Wanderer Session #41: Nina Yasmineh
Filmed in New York City
New York City is a monster. What do you give a place that has everything? What do you create in a place where love and dreams and hope and music are mass-produced on the sidewalk by the second?
I sat outside Union Square, by a dead fountain made green by spit and slime and moss. "I don't know mom. I'm nervous," said the woman on the phone next to me. "Waters! Ice cold! One dollah!" says this dirty man lugging around a cooler next to him. It was resting on angle. The water was spilling. The little, wet stream was flowing under a table full of paintings and colorful toys some men were peddling to some other men. Behind him was a boy holding a long plant shaped into a sword. On his other hand was a piece of green fruit. "Jewish? Jewish? You! Jewish?" he asks all the passerbys. There's an ambulance siren flaring behind him. Someone was hurt. Someone was laughing next to me. Someone was talking about football. Someone was talking about the government in Bolivia. Someone was kissing their mother, their girlfriend, their secret lovers. And there I was, moving left and right and left and right with my ears and camera, completely overwhelmed by this amalgamation of dreams and heartbreaks and sounds. I ran off to find Nina somewhere in this carnival before I got pulled in forever with all this people-watching.
Nina Yasmineh is an NYU student from Minnesota. She's tall. She has a real knack for catchy melodies. She's the childhood, musician friend of a dancer friend I think I've only ever met once. But that wasn't an excuse. I was forty-five minutes late and without her number. I finally found her leaning on the stone walls of her dorm, looking, perhaps, slightly ticked off. Understandable. I apologized without end since our first meeting. Christine, now living in Brooklyn, met us at some dog park. It smelled like sand and water and shit. No one cared. Nina played one of her songs here with little, skinny dogs and big, hairy dogs running past her legs and nibbling at the ends of her coat. One of them mauled me trying to get a bite out of my fuzzy, white microphone. Not a great start at all. I took Nina away from this absurd place, leaving Christine to play with her dog and the others to play with their dogs and other people's dogs.
We decided to film some songs at Washington Square Park. It was just a few blocks away from Union Square. I spoke with her about music and New Jersey. She spoke to me about music and Minnesota while we walked down suffocating streets. It's the only way to bond with a stranger in New York these days. In transit.
I asked her if she could play, "Something More." It was the first song I heard from her. I saw this music video of it on youtube. She was playing in Washington Square Park for some of the scenes. Here's her second take. A live one at that. I'm starting to really get disillusioned with clean, studio sound. There's just something about voices in the background or sirens screaming or babies or birds or trees swaying behind a beautiful voice that I'm really getting drawn to. I really like the stripped down recordings of Nina's music amidst all those busy sounds and images of New York City.
I watch this little souvenir of ours all the time now. It's actually a pretty rare thing for me to make a Session that I continuously watch these days. But this is one, I enjoy. I owe Nina that at least.
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