With Relative Traumas Nadia Garofalo has taken her gift as a song-writer and poet, and merged the two together to create a striking collection. One of the most exciting projects I have worked on lately, due to the passionate truth of Garofalo’s writing, which Indie Blu(e) Publishing first discovered through our anthology SMITTEN.
Nadia Garofalo is a childhood friend of Indie Blu(e)’s author Georgia Park and when she submitted to SMITTEN (purchase HERE) we recognized that unique blend of songwriting ability and wordsmithing. We were so impressed with Nadia’s writing and her being an accomplished musician and human-being.
Singer, songwriter, musician, and poet Nadia Garofalo is a throwback to the days of Byron and all who felt deeply, intensely, piercingly. As a songwriter, Garofalo has the precision of a wordsmith – she knows how to infiltrate the soul and will rend your emotions with her refrain. This debut collection of poetry examines the exquisite pain of chasing your dreams throughout the years, and storing within your blood the urgent need to live passionately. Her writing is raw, edgy, and unapologetic, with a tendency to revive the reader in the way that one is revived by putting their hands in cool water.
When you consider your life, imagining the ancestors before you who immigrated and brought their cultures with them, you forge memories without end. Garofalo condenses these types of observations alongside the humming piques of desire and complex relationships. Her confessional words might as well be sung for all the power they possess, imploring to the void for more. There is such a stirring rendition of urgent living here that it quickens the pulse, stirs what was once thought long dead, and awakens us to the potency that is poetry.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician and given that it’s a challenging job, did you think it would actually happen?
NG: I’ve tried to quit music a few times over the years but it just never seems to stick, there’s always something that brings me back. I think being in a band in high school, independent of any structural/school-related activity, was the first time I thought of it as any kind of future pursuit. Like maybe I’ll continue to play music with friends as a hobby and write my own songs when I feel like it etc.
- What part does writing play in your role as a songwriter and musician? What is your process and if you don’t have one, how do you start and finish writing something you are happy with?
NG: Writing is the center of pretty much everything for me, it’s how I work out concepts and feelings in a way that makes sense to me. I’m much more naturally a writer than a musician so sometimes the rhythm of words can feel almost instrumental to me, it can inform the instrumentation just as much as the other way around.
- How hard it is to get in front of a huge audience? What do you do to get through that and make it work?
NG: I’m a clinically anxious person but for some reason, I can feel completely comfortable performing with Ganser in front of a large audience, it’s like a switch goes off in my head and I just do “my job”. Its a lot more difficult for me to read poetry on my own, it’s just a much more intimate experience for me. In both situations, I do my best to keep my head clear and avoid anything that might make things harder for me by taking care of my mind and body as much as possible leading up to a performance. If I’m nervous I’ll give myself some time to write it out or take space to breathe.
- When you decided to put your poems together, what were you thinking in terms of the direction you wanted to take this? Did you have any concerns?
NG: I’ve been passing the idea of publishing a chapbook around in my head for a few years but 2020 was when I actually started the process of convincing myself to do it. It took another year or so of going through my notebooks to pick out and edit what I wanted to include. In terms of the direction, I wanted to give space and attention to what I was going through while those notebooks were being filled but with a perspective gained from looking back at it years later. It’s scary because it can feel very vulnerable to have these things out there for public consumption, I was always concerned it wouldn’t be good enough but that’s something I’m working on.
- Is publishing your poetry a different feeling than singing/songwriting and if so, how is it a different experience?
NG: I was lucky to have a lot of support in making this book but at the end of the day it’s just me out there with my name on this thing I made. One of the things I love about songwriting is the collaboration that happens between me and my bandmates, we are all working towards the same goal of making music we can all be proud of. With writing (especially self-publishing) I’m the one who has the definitive say in what the final product is and that can be great but also scary.
- What was your vision with Relative Traumas? What influenced you in terms of the layout and design?
NG: I wanted to create a book that felt as intimate as the material inside. I used the City Lights Pocket Poet series as a model for how I wanted my book to look, I love that you can carry them with you easily where ever you go. My earliest memories of poetry always had some element of illustration so I wanted to pay homage to that as well as bring in the work of some of my favorite local artists to accompany the poems and not completely lose the collaborative element in this “solo project”.
Nadia wasn’t sure if her first book was really something she should do. She’s a successful prop designer and buyer and has a cool life in Chicago with their flourishing music scene, hell she opened for The Smashing Pumpkins … it doesn’t get much better. But despite these successes she’s a very laid-back, humble and non-grandiose human and she was in two-minds about dipping her toe fully into a whole book of her own writing.
Despite this – she went ahead and Relative Traumas was born. A physically small book, it stands out as a pocket-sized collection of art and words – a little like the miniature Penguin editions, and the care and design put into it is very original and unique. Nadia somehow had time to create this alongside her full time job as a Pops Buyer in Chicago and touring with her successful band.
Her debut collection, Relative Traumas is a true testimony to Nadia’s pure ability as a writer of songs and poetry and life. She may not yet know how good she is (which is a bit adorable, in this world of unfettered egotism) but anyone who has read her, surely does. Indie Blu(e) loves that the world still have some living-breathing-true musicians who get on the road and do the grind. That those musicians have poetry in them and despite the knock-down-drag-out spectacle of life, continue to write that poetry. We hope we never grow tired of those kinds of souls, let’s always harken to the dark birds of song and post-punk revelry.
Relative Traumas is available via Amazon HERE and by asking your independent bookstore. You can also buy it direct from the author. If you love indie poets and musicians, song-writers and incredible musicians then Nadia Garofalo’s debut Relative Traumas is going to sate that hunger.
Social Media Links:
@Nadic on Instagram
Here’s a video of the band Nadia is in – Ganser (https://www.ganserband.com/)