Dina Maccabee: 5 Things That Inspired ‘Go Ahead’

dina maccabee

New album The World Is In The Work is on the way.

Every so often we like to mix things up here on Overblown and stray a bit away from fuzzy, feedbacking guitars and aggression. Today, our detour from anger is San Fran native dina Maccabee and her unique take on indie folk music. Her latest track ‘Go Ahead’ is a minimal and intense track that focuses on her viola work, using unusual playing methods in a pop structure to create something that is both intriguing and hooky at the same time.

We chatted with Dina about the track to see where exactly the inspiration for it came from.

1. A Monastery

In southern Portugal, there’s a 400-year-old monastery converted into an artists’ retreat, called Convento Sao Francisco. The treasure inside is a huge whitewashed chapel with arched ceilings and windows overlooking the Roman ruins on the banks of the Guadiana river. The acoustics of the chapel are pure magic, just lightly plucking one string fills the room with a wash of sound. I had an opportunity to do some writing and recording in there, and it felt like the room was a lost part of my viola I never knew I was missing. I liked the way contrasting plucked and bowed notes created dramatic contrasts in the room, which made their way into this song.

2. Henry Flynt

It’s thrilling to try and reproduce your favorite music, but when you want to transform what you’ve heard into something original, and you get to worrying about authenticity and appropriation, it can be paralyzing. Henry Flynt is a philosopher from North Carolina who calls his music “Avant-Garde Hillbilly Music.” To paraphrase, instead of quoting fiddle music in the context of the European forms he was trained in, he wanted to appropriate avant-garde techniques into his endeavors as a folk musician. I think about this idea a lot, how to savagely appropriate pop techniques for making music that suits my own sinister folky aims.

3. Nick Drake

I love fingerpicking guitar music, especially in weird tunings. The viola, having only four strings, is not so well set up for covering bass lines and melodies simultaneously the way the guitar is. But I wanted to give it a shot.

4. Sharon Ellison

It’s so common for arguments to be more about power struggle and having the last word, than about actually resolving conflict, or understanding another point of view. I first heard Sharon Ellison’s ideas about non-defensive communication skills on a radio show, then I listened to her audio book, and it inspired me to want try approaching conflict from place of curiosity rather than fear. This song has a lot to do with her prompt, “Am I willing to be out of the power struggle even if [the other person] stays in it?” which came out in Go Ahead as “You think your might can make you right, but not if I refuse to fight.” It doesn’t mean to refuse by avoiding confrontation, but to refuse to be baited into meanness.

5. 2016

I don’t know if 2016 is officially the year ad hominem attacks became the national pastime, but it sure felt like some kind of awful milestone. I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of traveling outside the U.S. in the last couple years, and I had conversations that made me realize how ingrained certain American points of view are, and how different our psychology can be from ways of thinking in other parts of the world. “Now you hide behind your guns” is a metaphor of course, but I started to understand how peoples’ feelings on the guns as a symbol can be an extension of their world view, in terms of autonomy and personal safety, whether they are for or against gun ownership. I started to see why public discourse gets nasty so quickly on issues like that, not as a consequence of debating policy per se, but due to people feeling threatened on a fundamental, personal level.

Find Dina Maccabee on Facebook.

Follow Overblown on Facebook and Twitter.