NNAMDÏ Artist Interview: Endless Creative Inspiration for Worldbuilding

NNAMDÏ is the type of multidisciplinary artist whose playful approach to creativity renders him instantly disarming. The Chicago-based musician, whose real name is Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, makes art that is bursting — no, EXPLODING! — with vibrancy and color. No matter which medium he dabbles in, he sees each project as an entire package of visual and aural delights, and uses this complex language of creativity to inspire others in their own right.

NNAMDI Ogbonnay Interdisciplinary Artist Interview
Photo Credit: Dennis Elliott

“I feel like music can influence things greater than other art… I feel like it can influence doctors; I feel like it can influence world leaders. It’s important in all aspects of our culture and society, so I think my goal is to just influence, hopefully, through my creative power,” NNAMDÏ explains. “The more I dive into [my creative learning and expansiveness], the more I’m hoping it will encourage other people to dive into that in their own walks of life.”

On a recent nationwide tour following the February 2023 deluxe release of his 2022 album, Please Have a Seat (Secretly Canadian & Sooper Records), NNAMDÏ recalls high highs and low lows. Among the high highs are an example of how his work inspires other creatives; at multiple shows, visual artists made live art and drew illustrations of the performers, which they then showed them after the show.

“You put stuff on the internet, and you don’t ever know how it’s gonna affect people, so it’s actually cool to meet people and realize that… art has weight to it, and kind of affects people in ways that you don’t even think about when you’re making it sometimes,” says NNAMDÏ.

Present in all of NNAMDÏ’s projects, however, is the artist’s strong desire to worldbuild. He naturally has strong ideas — and he thinks of each release not just in terms of the music, but also its themes, color schemes, and all other visual components.

“It’s just cool to worldbuild… build different worlds that are connected,” says NNAMDÏ. “From album to album, they’re all different; they’re kind of like different planets to me, but I’m the connecting factor. It’s just cool creating universes for other people to explore and get lost and kind of be influenced by in their own ways.”

One need only look at the entirety of each project to see how the sonics resonate with the vibrancy of the colors or how the album artwork and music videos are in conversation with one another. If anything, as a self-described “visual learner” and “very visually-stimulated person,” NNAMDÏ has the fun challenge of learning to “tame that into something that’s more cohesive, rather than just explosions of madness all the time” and to figure out “what works together and what feels right with different songs and different textures.”

“Everything stimulates people in different ways,” NNAMDÏ says. As an example, he cites an article about fast food places and how they use combinations of yellow to entice customers — yet those same colors, when used in other environments for extended periods of time, might be overstimulating and intense.

“It all comes back to how you’re affecting people and what you want people to take away from art…” NNAMDÏ muses. “I think it’s important to be involved in all those aspects so you know how you’re influencing people, or at least what your intention is going to be, because can’t really dictate what happens after you put something out.”

NNAMDÏ – “Dedication” Music Video

“From album to album, they’re all different; they’re kind of like different planets to me, but I’m the connecting factor. It’s just cool creating universes for other people to explore and get lost and kind of be influenced by in their own ways.” – Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, aka NNAMDÏ


When NNAMDÏ was younger, one could see evidence of his explosive creative process in the wide array of projects he would actively participate in simultaneously. He recalls that at some point in his life, he was in twelve bands; he also is famed for hosting a DIY venue called Nnamdi’s Pancake Haus, where each show served free flapjacks. NNAMDÏ has since scaled down his focus to primarily his solo project and playing drums in the instrumental post-rock and jazz fusion band, Monobody — but one doesn’t need to look too far to see new things cropping up all the time.

Recently, NNAMDÏ and his fellow Sooper Records co-founders, Sen Morimoto and Glenn Curran, have worked with Steve Marek of the recording studio, Cybernetic Meadow Recording, to launch the pop culture podcast, Industry Bullshit. It will present class-conscious, labor-forward perspectives of the music industry.

As co-host Morimoto shares in a press release, “Our first episode lays the foundation for the show’s perspective as we discuss some of the class-based barriers to entry that operate to gate-keep access from working class artists. Industry Bullshit isn’t just a podcast for musicians and industry participants; we use this space to engage in culture, political, and social commentary more broadly in an environment where we can crack jokes and envision more just futures for the music and entertainment industry.”

The title, content, and approach of Industry Bullshit makes obvious one commonality shared among all of NNAMDÏ’s projects. Reflecting on his work through the years, he says, “I think humor is a throughline. [Even despite] all the serious stuff I talk about… I like to joke around a lot, so there’s always some satire, some humor, gags, and puns.”

One aspect that has changed through the years, however, is how NNAMDÏ relates to his own work. Early on, he could be seen as occasionally referencing his own projects as “weird,” but he has since stopped using such language for multiple reasons. Not least of which is that, perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, his work isn’t actually that weird at all.

“I do enjoy that word, and I feel like it accurately encompasses so many things that I am into, but… there were elements of trying to get ahead of what people might think of it by letting them know it’s not for everyone, when… you kind of need to let that person decide for them or not,” says NNAMDÏ. “There’s a little bit of that self-consciousness… a lot of people don’t like the stuff that I like, so I’m gonna preface it with this.”

“And [the work is] different, but it’s not different to us… It’s who we are; it’s what we’re doing,” says NNAMDÏ. “It’s normal. It’s normal, because we’re making it. It’s what we want to make; it what we think to make… maybe we’re making something that we don’t really see a lot of in the outside world.”

NNAMDÏ – “Anti” Music Video

NNAMDÏ – “Touchdown” Performance on The Colbert Report

NNAMDI Ogbonnay Interdisciplinary Artist Interview
Photo Credit: Dennis Elliott


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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