I travelled to Los Angeles and the USA for the first time in 2019. Although I had not met Carlos Niño in person, we connected via Instagram where he saw a video of me playing a piano motif (titled ‘The One’ in this sequence) that he really liked and expressed a wish to record. This was around 2017. We tried a few times to get me over to Los Angeles, but the timing was always off. Through a performance organised by a creative collective called The Nonsemble at The Ford Theatre we finally got the opportunity to meet, play together and subsequently go into studio to record some improvisations as he guided the recording process. Having been aware of some of his work – in particular his collaborative projects as Carlos Niño & Friends, as well as with his friend and long-time collaborator, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson – I knew that, with Carlos as producer, the artistic direction of the album would likely take me to a place I’d never considered going. A fact that had me both curious and terrified (as one tends to be when stepping into the unknown) Lol!
Initially keen to record the song that he had seen/heard me play on Instagram, our performance a few days before the session drew him to the song Rainbow off my sophomore album, Exiled (2018). On that zen-like California afternoon in Andy Kravitz’s cozy studio in Venice Beach, he encouraged me to play around with various iterations of Rainbow. “Try it this way”, “How about adding that?”, “Can you breathe into the mic?”, “What if you focus on the last section?”, and many other explorations that eventually went through a few cuts, edits, yays and nays to become this body of work. Rainbow Revisited was birthed through that session, another session a couple of days later, and a series of many small synchronicities that led up to that moment. A particularly special moment for me was when he invited me to play something from home, which lent itself to me recording a song originally written by my grandfather that we often sing when at family gatherings. The song is called Nomayoyo.
So much has happened since that session in late 2019. Many changes in our personal and collective universes. Losses and gains, births and transitions into the next life, Mother Nature’s ever-constant cycles reminding me that through all the chaos there remains, just beneath, this perfect order in Her ebb and flow. And most importantly, reminding me to feel for Her and to listen. She speaks! If Rainbow in my initial birthing of it, expressed a discontent with what we have accepted as freedom in South Africa and, possibly, around the world, I’d like to think that Rainbow Revisited is some kind of a response. Where the idea of ‘the rainbow nation’, with all the baggage it carried, had hijacked the innocence and mystical nature of a rainbow, I now reclaim its meaning through going back, going inward, healing, and rebuilding with the hope of a less heart-breaking and more fulfilling tomorrow.