A look inside Iya Terra

Iya Terra is a roots, rock, reggae band from Los Angeles, California comprised of five members who together, deliver a unique sound with a positive message through their funky reggae music.  Their first self-titled EP was completed at Castaway 7 Studios with the help of award winning engineer and producer JP Hesser and was released early 2014.  Iya Terra has since aggressively toured with Ital Vibes during the Link Up Tour, presented by WeShouldSmoke and have blessed the stage with the likes of Tribal Seeds, New Kingston, Fortunate Youth, Marlon Asher, The Expanders, Arise Roots, The Simpkin Project, and many more.  We had the pleasure and privilege to catch up with lead vocalist Nathan Feinstein to find out more about Iya Terra and what’s in store for the new year.

First off, we’d like to congratulate Iya Terra on a job well done on your first EP; we love every single track here at Top Shelf Reggae!

Thanks man! That means a lot. It’s a special thing for us because we put our heart and soul into that EP and it really paid off in helping us get our name out there.

Looking back at 2014, how would you guys summarize the experiences and relationships you’ve made during your “break-out” year?

I can probably speak for the whole band when I say 2014 was the best year of our lives, haha. It was nothing short of a manifestation of our dreams. In 2013, we were just putting the band together and thinking, “man it would be so sick to play some festivals, share the stage with our favorite bands, and get out on tour”, and in 2014 we were able to do that. We started the year out with the Good Vibes festival with Fortunate Youth, Tribal Seeds and the Expanders, played the Summer Meltdown with Matisyahu and Stick Figure, went on our first tour over summer with Ital Vibes, including Reggae on the Mountain with Julian Marley and Black Uhuru, hit a couple other runs with our homies Irie Junctions and Arise Roots, and ended the year really strong with a week-long run with New Kingston and True Press. Definitely really blessed.

We also give a lot of thanks for the relationships we’ve made over the last year. Along with all the bands I just mentioned, we’re thankful for having started work with our manager Rudy and the whole crew at Rude Entertainment, our engineer and producer JP Hesser at Castaway 7 Studios, our artist Jake Tedesco, our good friend Ozzie (aka @weshouldsmoke), the brothers of Uplift Apparel and Cali Vibes Clothing, and all the friends we’ve made along with the way. Thanks for making it a great year.

Iya Terra

When writing new music, what is the creative process for you? What inspires your music and most importantly your message?

Everything, really. Surprisingly it’s kind of the every day things that I see and the tedious schedules of conventional life that inspire me most; to get away from that, you know? I sometimes come up with the best lyrics after a long day of work when I just need to escape into this creative place where there’s no rules. I write a lot about ordinary people like myself, struggling, overwhelmed by social standards…and learning how to be free. I’m a firm believer that no human is meant to work a 9-5, and that if you’ve found your passion it’s so crucial to follow that. Crucial to your own happiness and crucial to creating a better world in general, filled with art, music and happy people.

I’m also really inspired by moments. Little tidbits of knowledge that people lend to each other without knowing it. For example someone could be having a rough day and a friend says to them, “Don’t worry, tomorrow’s another day”, and then boom. Without knowing it, they just created a lyric for me, haha.

It’s all about people helping each other, you know. We have to work together. I see this huge movement of consciousness happening in the world now. I love being a part of it, and that’s what keeps me singing.

We were blessed to attend the Unity Festival last summer in Guerneville, California where you guys completely rocked it!  What stood out instantly about your performance was the positive energy that you guys were emanating to the audience.  What is Iya Terra’s message and how does the band stay rooted to your mission?

Give thanks!! That was a special show for us. It was our first show with our new drummer, Blake, which probably contributed to this nice vibe that we felt during the set. It just felt good. Add that to the natural beauty of the outdoor venue (right on the Russian River) and you’ve got all the ingredients for an amazing show. Gotta big up Josey over at Unity Fest for that one.

It’s definitely all that positive energy that helps us stay motivated and dedicated. We take a lot of pride in being a really hard working band, and it’s the response from our friends in the reggae community and the fans at the shows that keep us striving every day. And on top of that, we just love playing music! Nothing feels better than being out there on the stage and just letting go. We love the vibes.

Iya Terra

With the many new genres of reggae music sprouting up everywhere and specifically SOJA currently being nominated for a Grammy award, what have you noticed while on tour, in terms of reggae making big waves and moving into the mainstream?

Well first off, let me just say I think that’s a great thing. We could probably be categorized as a band that falls into one of the newer genres of reggae. We take heavy influence from roots reggae music and classic Jamaican and Island artists, at the same time as being able to witness every day the new reggae artists that are touring and playing shows in this time. The fact that reggae music is making huge waves right now is great. In my opinion, it’s the most conscious and positive music there is, and if we can spread that message to the masses… I mean that’s our goal isn’t it? To change to world.

It’s a good thing that there are these huge reggae bands that can bring fans into the genre, and then that fan tends to dig deeper into the genre and get lost in the power that is roots reggae. It’s like a learning process. It takes time to fully understand the world of reggae and there really is an endless amount of knowledge and healing power to gain from it.

While on tour, you really get to experience it all because the fans and friends are so involved in the genre itself that everyone works together to make the reggae community the most tight-knit music scene that I’ve ever been a part of.

With the new year approaching, and the anticipation of your new album titled Full Circle, will there be any collaborations with any of the many talented and hardworking bands you’ve toured with?

Oh man, I can’t really say too much about the features on the album, ONLY because they’re not all completed yet…but I will say that we have a pretty solid line up of artists that are gonna bless this album with us. You definitely will be seeing the names of some artists that we toured with last year on the track listing. We are so thankful for that, and we can’t wait to release Full Circle.

Iya Terra

In the studio, is it mostly work or play? How do you blow off steam during long recording sessions?

Definitely got to say it’s mostly work, although you do have to have a fair amount of play, haha. We’re a relatively low-stress band and we like to keep nice vibes, but when we get in the studio, it’s crunch time! We make sure we have everything nice and tight before we ever go in, so that the process is smooth as can be. We usually experiment with things like minute-meditations before tracking where the whole band will focus on putting positive energy into the music. We’re blessed to have the best recording environment I could imagine at Castaway 7 Studios. There’s always some natural light shining and some fresh ocean air in the studio, a little incense burning, and most likely a spliff going around, haha. So the days never get stressful, but we usually finish a long day of tracking up by going down the street to Surf Brewery in Ventura, CA for some good craft beers. Celebratory Vibes.

We want to wish you guys the best of luck on your new album and much success on your upcoming Youth Rising Tour with Ital Vibes and Synrgy, as well as a big up on the upcoming show with The Expendables!  Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Thank you so much!! We’re really excited for New Years Eve with The Expendables and to hit the road again with our brothers in Ital Vibes and the Synrgy boys.

Huge thank you to our fans, friends and family for making this whole dream possible. We couldn’t do it without you!! Keep supporting local reggae. Make the most out of your life, enjoy every moment and know yourself, love yourself and BE YOURSELF!

Also, if you like what you hear and you’re interested in providing a little extra push for us please visit our Full Circle Fundraiser page at: Igg.me/at/fullcircleIT Thank you with the utmost love and respect.

Iya Terra

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, much love and respect!

BIG up Top Shelf Reggae!!

For more information about Iya Terra, please visit these links:

Iya Terra “Love Is Crucial” music video

Photography by Diego Olivares

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