Listeners of Basi Vibe’s new six-track EP Somnus may experience visions of silk sheets, palm trees, classical keys and … morning wood?
Basi Vibe doesn’t just create music, he creates a feeling, a whole mood with his masterful storytelling via musical composition. Somnus is a wonderful collage of sounds comprised of Basi Vibe mastermind Sebastian Cardona’s silky smooth vocals and self-produced beats and lyrics. His work is jazz with a twist of funk and a splash of sexy R&B. His own accurate listening tip: “Put some headphones on to hear that thicc.”
Basi’s music has always seemed to be fueled by his desire to express himself in a way that consumes him completely. When he discovered he could sing, he focused on instrumentation. He wanted to have the capacity to sit at his piano and express himself exactly as he wanted without relying on someone else to interpret it for him. When he was feeling creatively stagnant, he made it a mission to infiltrate the creative scene and master this threshold of just doing something regardless of being 100 percent confident about it or what might happen. His academic career, his friendships and even his family life have all become catalysts used to propel his art. Basi is someone who knows his life is music, and you can tell. His work holds weight well beyond his 25 years.
His new EP is all about personal awakening and knowing when the time is really right to manifest your dreams. Basi Vibe is manifesting those dreams and seems to be fully awake. He is set to play Concerts In the Park May 10, 2019 alongside Souls of Mischief, The Philharmonik and Soosh*e.
Tell me a little about your new EP, Somnus.
Somnus is the Roman god of sleep. Prior to moving back to Sac two-and-a-half years ago, I felt like I had skills and talents that I was not fully utilizing. I recognized myself at that time as someone who was very lethargic and just going through the motions. I wasn’t doing all that could be done on a daily basis in the creative sense and in the artist sense. I was asleep, and this EP is a reflection of me waking up.
How would you say you “woke up?”
Seeing people I look up to like Soosh*e and James Cavern and realizing that I wasn’t on that level and that I wanted to be. Simply being around people who were doing things and setting a bar of standards I could strive for.
What were some of your inspirations for Somnus?
“Swoon” is kind of a love song. It’s a little teasy, flirty. “Palm Trees” is actually about somebody who felt like they weren’t growing enough in Sac, but realized it’s because of something internal, not because of the city.
A lot of people think my songs are thirsty. “Morning Wood” kinda is though. I wrote it and made the beat in the morning. That song is actually more purely me than any other song on the EP. I am very new to producing and making beats. This song features the first couple of beats that I created that I was genuinely proud of. All that production is me. This song is purely me. Also, just the title and not giving a fuck.
There’s a heavy jazz influence in your work. What’s your background like with it?
Specifically with jazz, I credit it to my aunt from San Diego. She used to put on this Jamie Cullum CD when I would visit. He’s like a jazz pop artist, and he takes these jazz songs and turns them into super cool interpretations. That was the first time I really experienced something like that. Before that, jazz to me was just like the jazz you hear on elevators. To hear someone flip it and turn it into something cool was pretty mind blowing for me and so that made me get into jazz and realize, “Yo, this jazz thing is sick.”
In high school, I really started to explore music. I can remember one thing that really nudged me forward. It was in a classroom my sophomore year in high school. The room was dressed up with lights and it was super dim and had a shitty sound system. It was a very student-run, after-school open mic. I sang “Firefly” by Jimmy Needham and my classmates went nuts and loved it, I hit this super high falsetto part and then they really went nuts. In my head I simply was like “I like this feeling.”
Aside from that, I was surrounded by music my whole life. My mom was in choir and my cousins played instruments and sang and taught me how to play some of my first songs on piano and guitar. At some point, I realized that I wanted to learn music on a more intellectual level and use it to support myself. I went to Sonoma State and got my [degree] in jazz studies with a minor in business.
On your website you say that you draw a lot of inspiration from your culture.
I draw a lot of inspiration from what has made me. I started to learn about my culture and ethnicity [Filipino and Native American] … I felt like that was the only remedy because I felt like if I didn’t know enough. That’s the internal ethnicity and culture side of drawing my inspirations. That’s me realizing that I come from so many cool things. My ethnicity is one of those, my religion is one of those. My hometown is definitely one of those. A lot of my inspiration comes from the city alone and looking up to people like all the people I’m performing with at Concerts in the Park. These people inspire me, It all drives me.
Did this EP help you feel more in tune with your identity?
This EP is an example of what happens when someone wakes up. It’s just an example of my story and me giving this to people so that if there is someone who is asleep or feeling lethargic in their life, this EP is for them. It shows people who are in that state of mind that there are beautiful things that come from waking up; that’s what these six tracks are all about.
Have you ever played for a crowd as big as CIP?
No! I’m pretty hyped. [I] applied the first time I moved back to Sac, and they denied me. I didn’t have anything to show for it. They hit me with the “thank for submitting but nah.” I didn’t even have a band. I wasn’t surprised, because I would’ve ruined that show. I wasn’t prepared. I don’t like to put anything out that’s not ready, I wasn’t ready then. I’ve been there for all the times that things weren’t ready and I’ve had enough moments like that. So here we are now, I feel ready and I’m excited as hell.
Tell me about your monthly residency at Highwater.
Every second Friday of the month I run an event called Vibe With from 10 [p.m.]–1 a.m. at Highwater. The format runs as an open jam session. For those three hours I’m playing music with a trio churning out funk, soul, R&B and vibing out. I call homies to come sing and play instruments. Horns come through and there are solos. It’s a dope session. Vibe With takes place after my May 10 CIP performance, so the plan is to turn it into the after party.
Basi Vibe will take the stage at Concerts in the Park on Friday, May 10, 2019, at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento. Also performing will be Soosh*e, The Philharmonik and headliners Souls of Mischief. Things get under way at 5 p.m., and the event is free for all ages! For more info, go to Godowntownsac.com. For more info on Basi Vibe’s residency at Highwater (1910 Q St., Sacramento), go to Facebook.com/basivibe.
**This piece first appeared in print on pages 16 – 17 of issue #290 (April 24 – May 8, 2019)**