By Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of World Hood.
For a lucky many, the concept of community and music go hand in hand. Though for World Hood of Sacramento, CA the two are mutually inclusive if not interchangeable. World Hood consists of Anand Parmar or “El Indio” and Estrella Hood, the duo responsible for this afro-dub project of theirs.
Aside from being a married couple, having kids, creating music, and crafting beats, they also run the Sol Collective, a community center based in their home city of Sacramento. It’s at the Collective that they work with youth from the city with music-related projects and in turn, gaining the inspiration to make the music that they make… for the kids. BTR was able to speak with Parmar during his precious time at home with his kids while Estrella Hood was manning Sol for the afternoon.
The grander narrative behind World Hood encompasses the “boy meets girl” beginnings of Parmar and Hood’s relationship but Sol Collective as well. When Estrella Hood was obtaining her Master’s degree close to nine years ago, it was part of her thesis to, in the words of Parmar, “open up a cultural arts center” where “young people express themselves, have resources, from learning skills to music production to art and all that good stuff.”
As for Parmar and Hood, he explains that he met her while she was completing her lofty thesis and he was “in line with her vision,” all the while adding his “skill set to the vision.” Even before they started the group, the two were making music together because Hood knew that Parmar was a producer/beatmaker. After a while, they gained a precise momentum of playing live, becoming performers, and letting “the tracks build up.”
Parmar is originally from the African nation of Zambia and it was there that he first discovered hip-hop and punk rock from outside of his home, along with the influences he was brought up on.
“Growing up I had a lot of traditional background; a lot of traditional Indian music, a lot of bhajan, a lot of spiritual music was always played in my house. I was also around a lot of instruments from tablas to guitars to different percussion instruments and harmoniums. Just having that spiritual background in the music was our parent’s way of keeping our hearts open and our mind right,” says Parmar on his unique musical upbringing.
Parmar’s family eventually immigrated to California in search of a “better life” when he was young with “75 to 80 percent [of the family] coming here with us.” This theme of the American Dream and searching for a better life for the family found its way into World Hood’s music.
“You’ll definitely hear a lot of that, inspirational sounds in our music. My wife writes a lot of the music in Spanish so there’s a lot of her traditions in the lyrics.There’s definitely a lot of optimism and hope in the music,” says Parmar.
As he describes the ethos at a later point “It all intertwines” in regards to the “optimism and hope” that go into the band’s output as well as the ideals that the Sol Collective were founded on.
Parmar himself works at Sol’s in-house music studio where he teaches Sacramento youth how to record, produce, DJ, and “pretty much whatever they want to learn, whatever their interests are.” They don’t limit themselves to the confines of the Collective either, the two travel to different high schools in the area to teach their own set of skills. Parmar says that the kids are constantly pushing the limits of what they want to learn as the lesson plans they teach are determined by the demands of the students.
He cited one student saying, “Hey, can we record me banging my desk right here and put that in a beat?” That beat must have sounded like true democracy.
The Sol Collective seems to have an agenda while at the same time not really having one at all. On paper it sounds like a space designed like the Boys and Girls Club in order to keep kids “off the streets” and while that certainly may be a desired outcome of Sol, that’s not exactly what their life work is.
“It’s not so much an alternative, it’s just a space where we can have open mics, we have a variety of workshops, and it’s not just for youth too. It’s a resource center for the community. Just to open folks up to different cultures and art, especially for Sacramento; we’re one of the most diverse cities in the United States. [Saving kids from the streets] is definitely a part of it as well because we do work with youth that have issues in their environment. I feel we provide a space where they can be productive, learn a skill, and be in the lab knockin’ out tracks instead of doing something else,” says Parmar.
In providing so many events and workshops for the Collective, that in turn “fuels World Hood’s creativity and keeps us moving forward in our sound.”
World Hood’s most recent release was the Mundo Libre EP, translating to “free world”. The songs are largely in Estrella Hood’s native tongue, her parents being immigrants from Mexico. However, it doesn’t detract from the experience of listening to the record if you can’t understand what she is singing. Let Parmar break it down for you:
“I’m still learning a lot myself but pretty much a lot of the themes around the lyrics are spiritual and uplifting content and a lot of content of Estrella’s traditions in her culture. [If you can’t understand it] it’s like, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying but I do know what you’re saying’ or ‘I don’t know exactly what is being said but I feel it.’ We get that a lot and I think that’s why our music has reached so many people from all different backgrounds despite not knowing Spanish. The energy transcends all,” says Parmar. “World Hood is sounds from different hoods around the world.”
As Parmar and Estrella Hood strive for this “global connection” and with the work they’re putting in down at Sol as well as the music they’re putting out there, the world may just start listening back in turn.
Be a part of the World Hood by clicking here.
Check out World Hood’s music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.