Iranian singer Ciscandra Nostalghia doesn't like to talk about where she's from. “It's a personal thing for me. I moved from my mother's womb to Earth and ended up in a couple of places. Now I'm here for a short while,” she says.
It made sense, then, that a year and a half ago, she posted a request on Craigslist demanding a legitimate, “magical” musical collaborator who wouldn't waste her time. That very night, multi-instrumentalist Roy Gnan drunkenly Googled “vocalist available Los Angeles.” He found Nostalghia's ad and, although she had included neither music nor photos, immediately emailed her.
Sitting in their no-frills North Hollywood studio recently, Gnan says he has no idea why he responded to her post. “He likes bitches,” Nostalghia says, giggling.
Four days after he sent the reply, Nostalghia messaged him some music. “As soon as it started playing, the hair stood up on my neck and arms,” he says. My first thought was: 'Don't fuck this up!' ”
They formed Nostalghia and for their first album, I Am Robot, Hear Me Glitch, set up shop in Gnan's bathroom, where they recorded all their vocals and most instrumentation. She sang in the bathtub, in the sink, even into the toilet. Grammy-winning producer Dave Way, who worked with Fiona Apple and Michael Jackson, was at the helm.
“I like the grittiness of singing in a hot and smelly bathroom. It beats singing in a primo, chichi, froufrou studio,” Nostalghia explains. Not that she pays much attention to what other musicians do. “You know, I've only been to three concerts and I've walked out midway through all of them,” she says.
But it's not just others' music she avoids. She also seems to have trouble listening to her and Gnan's dark, Kate Bush-inspired soundscapes. Last year, after consuming four and a half grams of psilocybin mushrooms each, Gnan and Nostalghia turned on their album to enjoy a music-enhanced trip.
Thirty minutes into the experience, Gnan called 911 because Nostalghia believed she was going to die. “I really enjoyed listening to the record when [I hallucinated] I was an Aztec princess, but soon I turned into a demonic creature,” she says.
Many artists try to exorcise their demons musically, but not Nostalghia. The musical compatriots may explore their twisted psyches, but, for them, the origin — or the destination — is never as important as the trip.
Nostalghia play HM157, 3110 N. Broadway, tonight.