Solo vocalist Naomi learned what it's like to be an immigrant trying to work on a recent tour in England.
"I got stopped at customs on my way in," says Naomi. "They were asking me, 'What are you doing in this country?' At first I was, like, 'I'm just on vacation.' And then they were, like, 'Really. What are you doing here?' And then I said, 'I'm a musician. I have shows here.' They got upset because I think you have to have a work permit to do that, even though I was not planning on getting paid anything, and I had no expectation that it was any kind of job. They were uptight about it and were really mad and made me go sit in the corner."
British customs officials took Naomi's passport away and told her someone would be with her. Naomi says she sat near the medical quarantine section of the airport for three hours, missing her connecting flight, which she called "a giant fiasco."
"Finally they just said, 'We'll let you come into the country, but we could deport you for this.' It was really heavy and serious. I didn't expect anything like that to happen."
Naomi flew to England by herself with her laptop as her accompanist. "San Diego was feeling kind of small, and so I kinda wanted to either move somewhere that seemed like it had a lot more activity musically that I could really be interested in, or I wanted to tour," she says. "I decided to tour."
She was able to book shows through the Internet and by calling venues across England. The only problem she had was when a show she thought she booked in Manchester never materialized. The venue owners believed her story and let her crash with them for the night.
"Actually it was really hard [to book shows]. I've heard that's one of the hardest places to get shows and that a lot of bands don't even go there," Naomi says. "I think it's partially because the music industry's huge there and there's a lot of competition to get shows. When I was there it seemed kind of insular. Not that they weren't aware of things in the rest of the world but that they just didn't care because there was so much stuff going on there."
Naomi will play the Ché Café May 21 with Bunky and the Robot Ate Me.