DJ Drez’s music has been moving bodies for more than two decades. His sound is an organic blend of mystical hip-hop, reggae roots and Indian raga that has been known to instigate an ecstatic dance party one instant, and soothe a group into a meditative savasana the next.
If you’re a fan of Drez, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the mysterious, seductive voice of Marti Nikko gracing dozens of the albums, tracks and remixes he’s released over his prolific career. A longtime collaborator of Dr. EZ (and also, his wife), Nikko steps into the spotlight with her debut album, Dreaming In Sanskrit, coming in February 2015 from Black Swan Sounds.
Featuring the production and turntable expertise of DJ Drez, it definitely bears his funky signature, but the record is undeniably Nikko-centric. Marti’s enticing, fiercely soft voice floats above a diverse collection of musical styles and patterns ranging from dub roots to Indian hymn to Balkan beats and back again, but the unifying thread is a spirit of love and devotion.
Dreaming In Sanskrit was born from some personal challenges confronting the Nikko/Drez family in 2014. An invitation from a friend helped guide Marti through those troubled times, leading her to return to a lifelong source of comfort: music.
“I was invited by MC Yogi to come sing on his new album and, where I might make excuses for things like that, I said “yes” right away. I just stopped hesitating and started saying yes, and yes and yes. He invited me to sing at [Wanderlust Festival] and I said yes…”
As Nikko stepped up, Drez stepped in to support her. They began by making one track, just for fun, with no intention to make an album. But as divine creations tend to do, the process took on a life of its own after the Wanderlust performance:
“When we came home from that, Drez played me a few more songs he’d been working on, and it really inspired more prayer. It wasn’t that I picked “we’re going to do a Ganesh song now. We’re going to do a Radhe Krishna song. We’re going to do a Hanuman song.” It was more of feeling the music and feeling our prayers. My prayers, my family’s prayers, our prayers of being human and what it’s like to live on this planet. To help encourage our love and peace and growth.”
Reflecting the intimate, personal space in which it was forged, Dreaming In Sanskrit is intense and gentle, vulnerable and joyful. Nikko’s mantra-inspired lyrics married to Drez’s turntablist magic present an irresistible call to worship. Her stirring voice, perfectly matched to the music’s seductive vibe, is an alluring call to listen and adaptable to many moods: tracks for your next romantic mixtape; beats to bump on the dance floor; or ambiance for your yoga practice, whether you’re heating up or cooling down.
Nikko’s innate spark illuminates Dreaming In Sanskrit. Her soul-soaked vocals dance and play in the spaces impeccably arranged by DJ Drez, highlighting a natural chemistry developed and enhanced through years of performing, living and loving together. The result is a beautiful, eclectic collection of music made for all sacred movement and moods.
released February 17, 2015
All vocals by Marti Nikko
Produced by DJ Drez for Sound Ambassador
Sheela Bringi: Bansuri
Eddie Young: Cello, Bass
Jim Beckwith: Sitar
Manoj Chalam: Words
Domonic Dean Breaux: Flute, Sax, Chinese Flute
Marty Lieberman: Sitar
Marty Williams: Piano
Vijay Krishna: Tabla