Photo Credit: John Phillips

Photo Credit: John Phillips

Answering the Call - The Dharma Initiative

by India Pougher

You first heard their music in The Scene’s video on the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk. Hampton Road’s own, The Dharma Initiative, claims they’ve “answered the call” for anyone looking for music to excite their mind and body.

They’ve been crafting their groove-based sound since 2010, and have since put out two full-length albums, “The Constant” and “Get What You Want.”  The band’s indie/reggae harmony is made up of husband and wife, Megan Sloggie and Zach Moats (vocals and piano), Mikey Famiglietti (guitar), and Jeremy Nardozzi (drums).  Check out our Q&A with the band where we talk about their sound, their influences and their thoughts on Hampton Road’s local arts scene.




Tell us about how you guys formed as a band.

How did you guys get the name “The Dharma Initiative?”

Zach and I are huge fans of the TV show LOST in which there is a group of scientists called The Dharma Initiative who study electromagnetism, psychology, and such (real trippy stuff). We're also strong believers in cosmic order- or Dharma. We were at the point where we needed a band name fast. The two of us parted one day to go to our respective jobs and decided we'd think about band names and discuss them later that night. When we came together at the end of the day we had both separately decided The Dharma Initiative was the perfect name. I said to Zach "My best idea is The Dharma Initiative" and he said "Mine, too!"

How would you describe your overall sound?

Our sound is constantly evolving and we all love so many different genres of music. We play structured songs w/ intricate composed jams, but with some loosely written jam sections as well to really allow us to focus on the heart of the songs themselves while giving ourselves the opportunity to improvise a bit as well. We have aspects of electronic, pop, rock, funk, reggae, etc. It's all about groovin'. Lately when people ask what kind of music we play we've been calling it "dance party".


The Dharma Initiative’s music was paired with The Scene’s video on the 757 Makerspace.  What are your thoughts on how these songs compliment the focus of the video and what do you think of the 757 Makerspace?

I loved how the video started with the upbeat nature of Confidence Man. It went well with the mood of the video. I think Markerspace is great for people who might otherwise put projects off for lack of all the tools and space they need. It's encouraging to just get out there and do it instead of just talking about how you wish you could.


How has the local area influenced you guys and your work as musicians?

Hampton has been so good to us. Zach and I moved here in 2012 and things have really taken off for us in the local circuit. Our drummer Jeremy Nardozzi lives in Gloucester, our guitarist Mikey Famiglietti lives in Smithfield, and Zach and I were living in other Hampton Roads cities, but once we started to realize that Hampton was really receptive to us we put our focus here a little bit more. Since then we've been able to grow so much because of the support of the fans and the venues here that we are thriving in the other cities now as well. We pack houses from Richmond to Virginia Beach regularly, and we even have some good regular spots in Charlottesville now, too. We're always working to expand our fanbase, but I'd say we definitely have Hampton to thank for nurturing us into the full grown force we have become.


Who are your biggest influences as musicians?

Our influences range from classical music to rock 'n' roll and everything in between. To name a few~ Thievery Corporation, Phish, Jacob Miller, RAQ, Pink Floyd, Rubblebucket, Santigold, Grateful Dead, Tycho


All-time favorite bands, and why?

I think I'll let us each answer this individually as we are all over the board.

  • Zach~ Radiohead
  • Mikey~ Grateful Dead or Tycho
  • Jeremy~ Skillet

For me it's Phish (the other guys in the band also agreed Phish is a top 3 for them). They taught me to listen to music in a way I did not know was possible prior to seeing them. I was always a music lover, but my passion has grown exponentially since the first time I saw Phish. My ears were never the same. 


Tell us what you’re listening to right now and why.

Zach and I have really been into Andrew Bird lately- his songwriting, melodies, lyrics, all of it- it really just resonates with us. Especially on a drive through the mountains on a beautiful day.


What are some of the things that you guys do outside of music?

A short list of our outside interests individually and as a group would include travel, craft beers, the beach, art, the spirit, food, benevolence, vegetarianism...


Describe the craziest thing to ever happen while performing live.

I think the craziest thing that ever happened to us happened just last week. We were scheduled to play Downtown Hampton Block Party with Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Madrid Express, but the show got rained out. A couple of the bars downtown decided to host us inside and after Dharma played a set at Hampton Taphouse, we got word that Col. Bruce was about to play next door at Marker 20, but he'd forgotten his guitar and needed to borrow Mikey's! So we all loaded out and after our show we went down and watched The Colonel play Mikey's guitar all night. Wild!



You can hear more music by The Dharma Initiative and keep up with shows and band announcements here.