There used to be a cursive-scripted tattoo swooping across the neck of Grammy-nominated bassist Meshell Ndegeocello that read “Rebecca,” in honor of her former significant other, author Rebecca Walker. Today, it’s inked over by a huge blocky “7,” signifying that the artist has — in ways both literal and figurative — moved on. She recently left her native Bay Area for upstate New York and started a household with her new flame, graphic designer Allison Reilly, with whom she just had a baby. She also reconnected with her jazz-funk roots via her recent recording “Devil’s Halo.” She returns to the area next week, recreating her 1999 classic “Bitter.”
Why would you ever leave your beloved Bay Area? I’m sorry to say, it seems like I work a lot more out here on the East Coast than I did in the Bay Area. And I met Allison, and was forced to move here. And she’s a really nice, brilliant, loving person.
And you two have a new son? Yeah! Atticus! Which I think is a great name. And my other son still lives in the Bay Area — he’ll be 21 in March, and graduating from an academy. But I love children. I’d prefer to be around children much more than adults, actually. And I like animals, too. I’m just really into beings who are at ease with themselves.
At what age does the corruption set in? I don’t know. I’ve heard stories of my friends who have kids in preschool, and it seems like a rough time even then. Once you encounter people who are really testing the limits of kindness, that’s when you start to build up a shield and close yourself down.
So now you’ve got frigid New York winters. How do you write then? That’s the aspect of winter I guess I like — it’s nice to have quiet. I live in Hudson, two hours away from Manhattan, and when it’s cold and quiet, it’s actually quite soothing. I like it — it allows me to hear more of what’s going on in my head.
Do you have your own recording room? Yes. I have the attic of our house. I find myself wanting to make music at the dining room table or in the bedroom — I’m kind of a mobile writer, so I sort of move around the house. But the attic is definitely where I can make the most noise. While everyone on the lower floors screams “Earthquake!” But no! It’s just my bass!
If you go
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday
Contact: (510) 238-9200; www.yoshis.com