Please, No Labels

Musical couple explores ‘norms’ with debut EP

| 6/4/2014, 1:13 p.m.
"Etheral" hip hop duo 7hirdwav3 explores the bounds of music, society, and the 'norms' with their debut EP 'Thirdwave'.
Portland musical duo Neka and Kahlo – 7hirdwav3 are celebrating the release of their debut EP 'Thirdwave'. Interracial and lesbian, the couple embraces not only widely different world views but musical tastes to fuel a unique sound for listeners, including such genres as hip hop, rock, soul and gospel. Photo by

To hear what the Portland musical duo Neka and Kahlo – 7hirdwav3 is trying to say in their debut EP, it’s probably going to take an abandonment of some of your preconceived notions about music, maybe all of them.

At least that’s the hope of this interracial couple for their album which dropped last week after a long-awaited turn.

During an interview with the Portland Observer, Kahlo (real name is Mila Kokich), and Neka (real name is Shanekah), said the 'Thirdwave' EP was inspired by their scars, triumphs, enlightenment, and perhaps most importantly, their fans.

In 2012, Kahlo, was confined to a bed at OHSU, sometimes weeks at a time, while awaiting a desperately needed kidney transplant. The days were exhausting on not only her, but for Neka too, something the couple says strengthened their five-year relationship.

The duo says it’s all made for better music.

“We’re better together than we are apart, that’s something we realized through our trials here at the hospital,” Kahlo says.

A northeast Portland native and the rhymespitter of the group, Kahlo says the two never stopped recording for the EP throughout the months of treatment, even during the dismal days of dialysis.

“I was recording, I think, some of my better verses when I had tubes in my chest,” she recalls.

Neka on the other hand is not only the vocal songstress for the two, but provides the airy beats they both muse over. A lesbian product of the Pentecostal church, this southern California native says her eclectic influences lend to genre-bending that won’t be easily classified.

“A lot of people, like if you’re gonna do pop music, if you do hip hop, you’re gonna do hip hop, and we were able to bring some of our gospel aspects into the music. And you know, bring a lot of the diverse cultures that I grew up with in California, up to Portland, and be able to display that creativity in our music.”

As a brief classification, Kahlo describes their sound as “ethereal” hip hop. They are known for taking the issues they encounter in real life, like gay rights and gentrification, and formulating their tracks in the spirit of making good and unique music. A listen to the single “Alchemistress” is a shining example of the aforementioned (soundcloud.com/we-out-here-magazine/neka-kahlo-7hirdwav3-alchemistress).

“It’s really about being who you are,” Kahlo explains. “We all have masculine-feminine portions of our brain. And it’s the merging of that that births the child of the music, the things that make us feel young again and the real proof of your creativity happens when you’re able to put those things together.”

“In the end I think the idea is to make good music and music that is relatable, that’s not just for, you know, a niche audience, but for everybody,” says Kahlo. “I think our music is meant to sort of break those pre-conceived notions, and I think at the end of the day when people hear our music they’ll be able to hear two people being who they are.”

7hirdwave logo

7hirdwave logo

To download the project ‘Thirdwave’ visit 7hirdwav3.bandcamp.com/album/7-3. You can also “like” the group’s official facebook page facebook.com/7hirdwav3 and follow them on Twitter @7HIRDWAV3.

--Donovan M. Smith