Kimee Massie sweeps the floor of Nadia Salon, a full-service hairstyling emporium located in the Pittsburgh neighborhood Shadyside. The lights are low, and if you ignore the Schwarzkopf hair dye display, the pink spray bottles at every stylist’s station, and the art-deco Marilyn Monroe print hanging on the wall, the room does resemble a yoga studio. The unsprung parquet floor, the mirrors, and the low hum of pre-class energy overpower all the jars of barbicide, and push aside any hints of this being a place where people requested highlights or buzz cuts hours before.
After Kimee finishes, she sets up her mat in front of the sinks. The opening track of Melvins and Lustmord’s album Pigs Of The Roman Empire seeps out of the speakers into the room, all intermittent war drums and tectonic rumbling. BLACK YO)))GA, an hour-long yoga class set to the music of Bohren & der Club Of Gore, Om, Sunn O))), Catacombs of Doom, and other drone and ambient metal bands, has begun.
“I always start my classes by saying, ‘You’re letting go of judgment, competition, and expectation.’ You know? You’re here for yourself,” Kimee tells me after my first session of BLACK YO)))GA. She, her husband Scott Massie, and their friend Chad Hammitt are chatting with me in a coffee shop. We’re all radiant, and I’m prattling on about how great I feel, how connected I feel to my body, how spiritual and lifted I am. The three of them smile and thank me. This is the first interview I’ve ever given where my subjects can actually see I’m wearing sweatpants.
Chad doesn’t play bass, but he looks like a real bass player’s bass player, broad shoulders and raven hair. Kimee and Scott are dipped in tattoos all they way down to their feet, where they both have matching “O)))” logos. “We got them in November of last year, right after we started BLACK YO)))GA,” says Kimee.
Scott is the “Head Mother Fucker In Charge” of Innervenus, a Pittsburgh metal/heavy/punk/doom collective that puts out records, books shows, and promotes bands. Kimee is the collective’s art director and “cult leader”; Chad handles packaging design and manufacturing.
After Kimee became a certified yoga instructor in 2012, she and Scott began tossing around the idea of BLACK YO)))GA. The idea was to conduct a vinyasa class and set it to a different type of music, something separate from the New Age that so many other yoga studios use to soundtrack their practice. “We touched a bit on trip-hop in the beginning,” says Scott. [...]