By Miranda Chiechi
The Golden Dawn Arkestra, an avant-garde musical collective, is celebrating their first LP release Feb. 26 and 27 at the Mohawk. ORANGE spoke with lead singer and founder of the collective, who goes by the stage name Zapot and “human name” Mgawi, about the band and their new LP. He promises attendees that whether they like it or not, the new LP will definitely be something they've never heard before.
How many people make up Golden Dawn Arkestra?
It varies. The most we ever have these days is around 20. Between 15 and 20, and then if you include some of our collaborators to help with other things, it's actually even more.
Are you based out of Austin?
We basically come from all over the universe — we are all just particles of stardust. We have been all been around forever in different forms, but we have all managed to come together here in Austin.
When was the group founded?
This incarnation on Earth, we landed around the end of 2013.
Can you talk about your new LP Stargazer? What inspired it?
This is our first full length LP. Since the EP, the band has grown so there are new members and new influences. We have definitely been more influenced by, I would say, dance, electro, disco grooves. We studied a little in Nigeria with William Onyeabor.
What do you hope to achieve with your new LP?
In general, our goal is to bring joy and happiness to as many people as possible. I would say also to help people sort of transcend the physical realm that we are in and maybe take a moment to get out of the cycle that we have all got caught up in — especially with the technology that can be really helpful, but can be really addictive and keeps people distracted through worshipping their glowing screens — and bring people out of that into a more visceral, transcendental ecstatic.
And then also with some of the lyrics we've got on there, we're just trying to bring consciousness to the fact that the human race is not taking good care of its only Earth ship.
What can you tell me about what to expect at the LP Release at Mohawk?
We have new costuming that we will be bringing and debuting, and obviously the vinyl LP will be for sale. We have a couple of new songs. But in general, we love playing at Mohawk. It's a great space in a way because we are very visual and there's so many levels. A lot of times, certain things get missed if it's in a standard venue, but the way Mohawk is so leveled it's a great venue for us for people to see what's going on. So we are just really happy to make it our home for two nights and bring in some extra special little visual treats.
What kinds of costumes do you wear on stage?
We all have our own characters. We kind of all have our own superpowers of different parts of the universe, of different planets, and we all have our own stories so to speak.
And everybody comes up with that and that is somewhat fluid, that's why we are able to change the costume because we kind of travel through time and space eternally.
Why those costumes specifically?
It just kind of depends on the day and the year as to what our character and what our superpowers are. But each character comes up with their own general character, and we build off of that and we have various costumers who are helpful in putting that all together.
Can you tell me more about the meaning of “Golden Dawn” and what the band stands for?
I think I touched on it earlier, about wanting to help people transcend their physical limitations. I think specifically referencing the golden dawn, I wasn't necessarily intentionally trying to reference the specific Egyptian golden dawn or this Aleister Crowley golden dawn, but it was more an image that came to me sort of in a dream.
We sort of follow all the streams of mysticism and spiritualism and we really embrace a lot of the rituals in our performances — burning of incense before our shows and provoking Ra. We rely on a lot of different forms, from Native American to Egyptian, and try to relive that into our performance and then try to just bring people out of their technology loop and bring them into their own bodies — and as a result, hopefully bring them out of their bodies into this more ecstatic state.