Los Angeles based artist NYIKO blurs the lines of reality and envisions a catastrophic future for his city in his newest single “LA on Fire,” a collaboration with electro-pop producer Vaughn Oliver, aka U-Tern, out now via Trailing Twelve Records. With tantalizing synth and catchy electronic instrumentals, it’s hard at first to peg whether this new tune is an indie dreamscape or post pop nightmare? While upbeat instrumentals set the pace for a dance party, the lyrics foretell of cataclysmic fires that engulf the city of angels. The contrast of which create a fitting contradiction for an end of the world scene set in the entertainment capital of the world.
Serving as a metaphor for the all consuming aspects of chasing fame and as a reminder to the very bleak reality Angelenos face each year due to increasingly bad wildfires, NYIKO’s lyrics evoke visually rich imagery. Whether in the abstract or in the physical, such as the spark that ignites a lust for fame or the spark that starts a devastating wildfire, the new single is a dynamic look into the messes we get ourselves into and the surrounding damage that ensues.
“There was a solid week when the sky in LA was a surreal orange and the air quality was hazardous. In that space, we decided to explore the potential impact of a wildfire ripping through the city,” notes NYIKO. “It’s a terrifying thought, but like any disaster movie, it’s ripe with visuals and metaphor. In the abstract, the fire can be interpreted as the pressures of trying to “make it” – the all-too-common dream of becoming a celebrity that people have when they move to LA. A spark, or opportunity, can ignite the path for success, but on the flip-side, people can become consumed by that dream to the point where they’re creatively and professionally burnt out.”
The single’s dramatic lyrics and heavy message are diffused through U-Tern’s lush musical arrangements where sparkling synth opens the song and leads into NYIKO’s deep croon. As vibrant spectrums of musical harmony and dynamism pulsate, the beat builds to a crescendo like the arch of a great disaster movie.
While “LA on Fire” speaks of our inevitable undoing, it’s not without a call for change — if we can change our attitudes and actions, perhaps the flames of our ego, and from climate change, can be doused.
“The call to action is two-fold,” notes NYIKO. “At its face, and while the future of our environment is bleak, we ultimately still have the power to manage and reverse some of the effects of climate change. The second call to action is to shed light on America’s obsession with fame. For many folks, especially in LA, it’s become an addiction. You can go “viral” overnight and once you get a taste of that, it’s hard to stop chasing it.”
Words: Patti Sanchez