Tag: Lorde

Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  Interestingly, the Los Angeles-based pop artist began her career as a touring member of the acclaimed New Zealand-based synth pop act The Naked and Famous — but Shadows went solo, because she felt she had a voice that demanded to be heard on its own terms.

Since then, Luna Shadows has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach, as she writes, performs, records, produces, edits and engineers every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting .  .  . ,” and compared by some critics as Lana Del Rey taking Lorde to the beach.

Adding to a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based artist’s work has amassed over 35 million Spotify streams with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz and landing as high as #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts. Her live debut. which took place at the renowned Los Angeles indie music showcase School Night was a sell-out — and she also has received airplay on a nubmer of radio stations globally, including  including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1. And amazingly, she accomplished all of that without the support of a label.

Now, as you may recall this past year has been a momentous year for the Los Angeles-based pop artist: She recently began collaborating with two highly-acclaimed mainstream indie pop producers — s Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released her first single of the year, “lowercase,” a track imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays, recriminations and accusations paired with a sleek and hyper-modern, trap-leaning production. “god.drugs.u” continued in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor but while centered around a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning.

“practice,” Luna Shadow’s third and latest single of the year continues a run of sleek, hyper modern, radio and club friendly bangers, as its centered around the sort of synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Shadow’s plaintive vocals and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. And while being a rumination on love and loss meant to remind the listener that every love affair throughout your life is essentially practice for the next one, it’s also a reminiscence on the one that might have worked — but somehow didn’t. And instead of harboring bitterness, the song suggests that it’s all a part of being human.

“Like all songs in this series, this song involves a breakdown or barrier in communication both in the digital and physical worlds,” Shadows says of the song. “In the most literal interpretation, ‘practice’ is an imaginary conversation with a bridge jumper, beginning with a retroactive plea for them to check their Twitter mentions as they might’ve seen the outpouring of love left for them before they made an irreversible decision. The chorus is a sentiment that someone once expressed to me in a dark hour: that love is a process, something in constant refinement, something never damaged beyond repair, somewhere that you can always return. This message reached me at a necessary moment, and I wanted to forward it musically with the hope that it might reach someone who needs to hear it right now.”

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Kiwi Sibling Duo Purple Pilgrims Release a Feverish and Haunting Visual for “Sensing Me”

Purple Pilgrims is a New Zealand sibling duo, comprised of Valentine and Clementine Nixon. The sibling duo tracked their full-length debut 2016’s Eternal Delight in the wilds of Tapu, New Zealand. Interestingly, the duo’s sophomore album, Perfumed Earth, which was released earlier this year through acclaimed indie label Flying Nun Records found the duo returning to the same wooded sanctuary in Tapu, but according to the duo in a  calmer, more contemplative headspace. “Internal white noise subsided and we really started to appreciate the peace of our environment,” the duo says of the recording process of an album that they’ve described as “kind of like a rebirth.”

Perfumed Earth found the Nixon Sisters fashioning what they’ve dubbed “a very modern/mobile band” that combined local recordings with inspired long-distance overdubs from a vaster cast of collaborators that included their frequent collaborator Gary War, who contributed bass and synths from hotel rooms while he was touring America with John Maus; Jimmy Mac, Lorde’s keyboardist, contributed drums; Joshua Kennedy, former Surf City guitarist contributed guitar work; improvisational experimentalist Jeff Henderson contributed saxophone on “Delphiniums In Harmony / Two Worlds Away”; and Roy Montgomery contributed expressionistic guitar work on “Ruinous Splendour.” The material was then mixed by Thomas Healy, utilizing his sizable collection of vintage tape machines to create an overall sound that’s spacious and sensual, swooning and spellbound while being a major sonic step forward for the Kiwi sibling duo.  

Perfumed Earth’s latest single is the atmospheric  “Sensing Me.” Centered around twinkling keys and synths, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, subtly twinkling keys and simple yet dramatic percussion the song is spacious enough for the Nixon Sisters gorgeous harmonies, which manage to mesmerize, seduce and soar through the arrangement — while expressing an aching yearning and longing.  

Directed by W.A.M. Bleakley, the recently released video for “Sensing Me” was shot on 16mm Kodak film, and the end result is a moody yet gorgeous fever dream featuring the Nixon Sisters. “’Sensing Me’ is a Love Magic incantation and telepathic ritual,” the Kiwi sibling duo say of the song and its accompanying video. “Through hyperbolic emotional shorthand we regard the grey area between love and obsession, fantasy and reality. A claustrophobic dream of elation, desperation, regret and double meanings. The video was directed by the wonderful W.A.M Bleakley and shot on 16mm Kodak film. The characters become more and more disarrayed as internal clashes overwhelm them – becoming divided within and against themselves, and ultimately disembodied. When psychological boarders on supernatural – both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious all at the same time.”

IMUR is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based trio, comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (production, guitar, DJ) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass, production) — and with the release of their debut EP, 2015’s Slow Dive, the Canadian trio received attention across Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for an attention-grabbing sound that draws heavily from 90s R&B and soul, electro pop, electronica and experimental pop.

The members of IMUR released their full-length debut, 2017’s Little Death, an album that thematically explored and discussed drugs, heartache, strength, vulnerability and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. The album amassed millions of streams across the planet, eventually landing on the Spotify Global Viral Charts — perhaps as a result of the album’s material being featured in ad campaigns by Patagonia and Lululemon and on TV shows like Wynnona Earp and Workin’ Moms. Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the trio played Bumbershoot Festival‘s main stage, sharing with the likes of Jorja Smith, Solange and Lorde. And they closed out the year with a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Electronic/Dance Artist of the Year and Best Electronic Song Award in the Canadian Songwriting Competition.

Since then, the act has released Little Death‘s follow-up, last year’s Thirty33 EP and a single, “Fever,” which was released earlier this year. The trio’s latest single “Lips, Tongue and Teeth” is a sultry and unapologetically sexual club banger, centered around shimmering and wobbling synths, thumping beats and an infectious hook that seems to draw equally from R&B, contemporary electro pop and classic house music. Interestingly, the song is a defiantly feminist anthem that generally says women should proudly be sexual beings, getting the pleasure they desire and need.

As the trio explain in press notes, the song’s unapologetically sexual nature in some way represents Jenny Lea’s personal and artistic journey in which she went from conservative banker to confident, world-taking badass. The song was penned as the first of a series of songs focused on female empowerment and autonomy  — with this particular song having an audacious and brash message of defiant sexual expression.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Luna Shadows Celebrates Inclusivity and Californian Skater Culture in New Visual for “god.drugs.u”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  The Los Angeles-based artist has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach, as she writes, performs, records, produces, edits and engineers every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting . ..” Her work has also been compared by some as Lana Del Ray taking Lorde to the beach.

So far Luna Shadows work has amassed over 35 million Spotify streams, with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz, reaching #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  Building upon a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer has also received airplay on radio stations worldwide, including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — and she played a sold out, live debut show at renowned Los Angeles indie music showcase School Night. Amazingly, she has done that without the support of a label. 

2019 looks to be a big year for Luna Shadows. She recently began collaborating with two highly-acclaimed, mainstream indie pop producers Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released her first single of the year, “lowercase.” Centered around a sleek production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocal samples, twinkling keys, Luna Shadow’s plaintive and sultry vocals and an enormous hook, the track was imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays and accusation.

Featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and atmospheric synths paired with Luna Shadows’ sultry delivery, her latest single “god.drugs.u” continues a run of slickly produced, trap-inspired songs — but at the core of the song is a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning. 

“Sometimes, I find that it’s easier to identify what something isn’t rather than describing what it is. “god.drugs.u” is essentially a process of elimination love song which breaks down my personal experience of love, one which is most often rooted in present moments rather than chemical or spiritual experiences,” Luna Shadows explains. “It isn’t a declaration of what anyone else should feel, it’s simply a personal reflection on my experience of love which is very here and now. I am a person who spends a lot of time stuck in the past and worrying about the future, so the moments where I am truly present best represent my experience of love and serenity. This song is a meditation on the moments where I’ve looked at someone (or some place) and felt a deep sense of peace & fulfillment, if only for a split second.”

Produced by Kitty Disco and Ride or Cry Co., the recently released video for “god.drugs.u” was directed, produced, styled, edited and stars a nearly exclusively female-identifying cast and crew and members of the LBTQ+ community.  Stylistically shot at Venice Skatepark, the video is a celebration of Californian skateboard culture through the lens of fashion, inclusivity, authenticity and diversity starring five local skateboarders — Briana King, Victoria Taylor, Hilary Shanks, Jennifer Charlene and Claire Weaver. “Los Angeles is a place that represents unconditional love to me. This city has been here for me when my whole world came crashing down. Like the other installments in my video series, I wanted this visual to be an ode to an iconic LA location presented in a brand new light,” Luna Shadows explains in press notes. 

“The concept of skateboarding came to mind – a risk-taking, safety-defying sport in which the rider cannot afford to focus on anything other than the present moment – a sentiment that sits comfortably with the lyrics,” Luna Shadows continues. “I’ve loved skateboarding since I was a young girl but always felt excluded from the culture, so this video was an effort to be more inclusive & to showcase one of many versions of femininity which does not conform to the tradition image of skateboarding.”

Luna Shadows is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach with the Los Angeles-based artist writing, performing, recording, producing, engineering and editing every note of her own work — and for sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting . ..” and has been compared by some as Lana Del Ray taking Lorde to the beach.

So far Luna Shadows work has amassed over 35 million Spotify streams, with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz, reaching #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  Building upon a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer has also received airplay on radio stations worldwide, including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — and she played a sold out, live debut show at renowned Los Angeles indie music showcase School Night. And amazingly, Luna Shadows has done that without a label.

Recently, Luna Shadows has begun collaborating with two acclaimed, mainstream indie pop producers, Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load.

2019 may be a big year for the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, as she signed to +1 Records, who will be releasing her first single of the year “lowercase.” Centered around a sleek radio friendly yet club-banging production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocal samples, twinkling keys, Luna Shadow’s plaintive and sultry vocals and an enormous hook — and while infectious, the track is imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays and accusation.

“‘lowercase’ is a song about recognizing your power through awareness in a situation where you were made to feel incredibly small by another. This takedown is detailed through a central metaphor, a reference to the millennial digital communication ‘you break down to lowercase, the capitals you take for only you.'”

 

 

 

Interview: A Q&A with VALLEY’s Michael Brandolino

The members up-and-coming, Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based indie rock/indie pop act VALLEY Rob Laska (vocals), Karah James (drums), Michael Brandolino (guitar) and Alex DiMauro (bass) played in a number of various bands, initially playing in high school bands covering some of their favorite artists before getting serious enough to write their own material.  Interestingly enough, the members of the up-and-coming Canadian act can trace their origins to when the members’ previous projects were accidentally (and perhaps serendipitously) had their recording sessions double-booked at a local recording studio. The studio encouraged the band to try playing together — and as the story goes, instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth, each individual person decided to work together, eventually developing their self-produced and acclaimed debut EP, 2016’s This Room Is White, that amassed 10 million streams, partially as a result of the EP’s smash hit track “Swim,” which received airplay internationally and garnered placements on a number of TV shows. 

Last year, the members of VALLEY released the Maybe Side A EP, which featured “There’s Still A Light In The House,” a track that amassed over 1 million Spotify streams and received airplay on US College Radio. Building upon a growing profile, the up-and-coming Toronto-based indie quartet will be releasing their full-length debut Maybe through Universal Music Group later this year, and the album’s Andy Seltzer co-written and co-produced first single “Closer To The Picture”  thematically deals with the vacillating and inherent cycle of anxiety and self-reflection in the deafening digital noise of 21st century living.

VALLEY’s latest single, “A Phone Call In Amsterdam is a slickly produced bit of anthemic, radio friendly pop featuring shimmering synths, a rousing hook and a tight groove that sonically reminds me Plain White T‘s “Hey There, Delilah” and St. Lucia — while thematically focusing on an experience that should be familiar to most of us — that moment when you realize that you have feelings for a dear friend, who you desperately want to tell; but you’re afraid of rejection and ruining a good relationship.

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The up-and-coming Canadian band is currently touring with up and coming singer/songwriter and fellow Canadian Lennon Stella to support their most recent EP and new single, and the tour includes a stop tomorrow night at Irving Plaza, arguably their biggest area show to date. I recently spoke with the band’s Michael Brandolino via email about their new single, their tour, their influences and more. Check out the tour dates below, and the interview below the jump.

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MON 25 MARCH
Theater of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA, US
TUE 26 MARCH
Irving Plaza New York, NY, US
THU 28 MARCH
Metro Chicago, IL, US
FRI 29 MARCH
The Rave/Eagles Club Milwaukee, WI, US
SAT 30 MARCH
Fine Line Minneapolis, MN, US
MON 1 APRIL
Bluebird Theater Denver, CO, US
WED 3 APRIL
Fonda Theatre Hollywood, CA, US
THU 4 APRIL
Fonda Theatre Hollywood, CA, US
FRI 5 APRIL
August Hal lSan Francisco, CA, US
SUN 7 APRIL
Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR, US
MON 8 APRIL
Neptune Theatre Seattle, WA, US
WED 10 APRIL
Vogue Theatre Vancouver, BC, Canada
THU 11 APRIL
Vogue Theatre Vancouver, BC, Canada
TUE 16 APRIL
Top Cats Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH, US
WED 17 APRIL
The Auricle Canton, OH, US
THU 18 APRIL
Cobra Lounge Chicago, IL, US
FRI 19 APRIL
Fubar St Louis, MO, US
SAT 20 APRIL
The Kio House Memphis, TN, US
MON 22 APRIL
The End Nashville, TN, US
FRI 14 JUNE
– SAT 15 JUNE
Liquid Arts Festival 2019 Hamilton, ON, Canada

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WRH: As the story goes, the members of the band met when a recording studio accidentally double- booked sessions and encouraged y’all to play together. Curiously, how does your previous project(s) differ from Valley? And when did you recognize that you had a musical and creative chemistry that couldn’t and shouldn’t be denied?

Michael Brandolino: The projects we worked on before Valley were kind of the stepping stones we needed to find our sound I’d say. We spent the years before Valley covering our favourite bands in high school and collecting our favourite sounds for the future.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

MB: I’d say it’s very much a combination of our parents records and records that we discovered in the most formative years of our life. We’re always thinking about the overall story and how to tell it in the most honest way. We believe a lot in honesty and a freeing dynamic, while blending a lot of different sonic textures. For example, on this record we did a lot of acoustic guitar panning that sit quiet and create pads that sit under blanket under the song, which is something we learned from Coldplay but then we contrast that with a ton of drum machine samples from the 80s and 90s that glue these two different worlds together. We’re always thinking about bringing stuff like that into one headspace. It’s really important to us when shaping a record.

WRH: Who are you influenced by?

MB: We definitely have a very diverse list of influences ranging anywhere from John Mayer to Coldplay to Bon Iver and Ariana Grande. All those artists have put out records that have marked really important periods of growth for us as a band and personally. Super thankful to be living in an age where they exist.

WRH: Who are you listening to now?

MB: Currently really into Lorde’s latest record, love Bon Iver, Still Woozy, Lennon Stella of course, The Japanese House record, Fleetwood Mac, Ariana Grande! We’re all over right now. So many great albums have been put out this year.

WRH: Is there anyone in the Toronto scene, who we haven’t heard about in the States that we all should be hearing about?

MB: Hands down this band called Babygirl. They’re good friends of ours and we look up to them so much. Incredible story tellers and songwriters. We have a feeling you’ll be hearing about them soon…

Recommended first listens: “Overbored,” “Soft,” “Wish I Never Met You.”

 

WRH: You’re currently on tour with Lennon Stella. How has the tour gone so far?

 MB: This tour has been absolutely incredible. We feel so lucky and fortunate to be on this run with Lennon. It’s our first major U.S run and we’ve been learning a ton. Watching Lennon every night and seriously has one of the most beautiful voices out there right now. Her songwriting is way beyond her years in so many ways and cannot wait to see her career unfold. So lucky to be a part of her humble beginnings.

WRH: Speaking of your tour, it includes a March 26 stop at Irving Plaza. Is it your first-time playing NYC? And what should NYC music fans expect from your set and from the show?

MB: We’ve played Rough Trade in Brooklyn before, but this is definitely our first time playing the Plaza right in the heart of the city. New York is so damn special to us. We wrote a lot of Maybein the city and lots of lyrical and production soundscapes take place throughout the album. It’s gonna be a special night, we can feel it.

WRH: Your self-produced, acclaimed EP, 2016’s This Room Is White amassed over 10 million streams – perhaps a result of “Swim,” receiving placements on radio and TV. Building upon rapidly growing buzz around you, your full-length debut is slated for release later this year. So far, the album’s first single “Closer to the Picture,” which was co-written and co-produced by the band and Andy Seltzer has received over a million streams and US College radio airplay. How does it feel to attain that kind of attention in such a relatively short period of time?

MB: It’s a pretty cool feeling, although we always feel like we could do better. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that every release does better than the last. Closer to the picture now one of the smaller songs on MAYBE according to Spotify analytics. Our most recent single “A Phone Call In Amsterdam” has performed the best, and we’re brainstorming ideas on how to exceed that number with our next single titled “Park Bench.” We feel blessed with any success we’ve had but always are looking to do better. There’s always room to grow!!

WRH: Your latest single “A Phone Call in Amsterdam” reminds me a bit of Plain White T’s and St. Lucia. What influenced the song? And what’s the song about? 

MB: “A Phone Call in Amsterdam” was one of the earliest songs that we wrote for Maybe. I remember the initial idea was conceived around July/August of 2017 around the same time we also wrote “There’s Still A Light In The House.”

“A Phone Call in Amsterdam” in terms of concept came later. This one we really wanted words and feelings to flow freely in its early conception. Subconsciously the meaning came out of nowhere which kinda made me go “oh that’s what I’m writing about I know exactly where this is coming from in my life.”

It’s very much a love story set in a time and place from the perspective of a dear friend of ours. Though it’s wrapped up in distance, both physically and emotionally. The paradox of wanting someone in your life and being scared to tell them how you really feel but also not wanting to ruin something that is already good the way it is, by saying the wrong thing.

Your most current tour has you on the road for the better part of the next month, before a big festival date. After you’ve completed the tour, what’s next?

We’re planned to release another single, two music videos, and then the second half of our record MAYBE. We’ll be doing another hometown album release show in Toronto, date to be announced! We have some festivals lined up but we are also very eager to start writing and demoing again so will probably run away for a month in the summer and write.

New Video: Franz Ferdinand Releases Surreal and Mischievous Visuals for Re-worked Version of “Glimpse of Love”

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based indie rock/post punk act Franz Ferdinand, and as you may recall, the Scottish band, which is currently comprised of founding trio Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals), along with newest members Julian Corrie (keys, synths, guitar and backing band), who joined last year, replacing founding member Nick McCarthy and the recently added Dino Bardot (guitar) can trace their origins back to 2002. With the release of their first two singles “Darts of Pleasure” and “Take Me Out” the members of the Franz Ferdinand quickly saw commercial and critical success — with “Take Me Out,” becoming the band’s signature song, as it eventually peaked at #1 the UK Singles Chart, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, their eponymous, 2004 full-length debut received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album and won the Mercury Prize, helping the Scottish indie rockers to establish themselves at the forefront of the early 2000s post-punk revival movement.

Their 2005 Rich Costey-produced sophomore effort, You Could Have It So Much Better was released to critical and commercial success with the album peaking within the Top Ten Charts in multiple countries, and as a result, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album with album single “Do You Want To” receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. However, with 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the members of the Scottish indie act moved away from the post-punk sound that first won them international attention to a much more dance floor oriented sound — all while continuing an impressive run of commercial and critical success. They promptly followed that up with a remix album of Tonight, titled Blood, which was released that summer.

2013 saw the release of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action but they managed to follow that effort up by teaming up with Sparks to form indie supergroup FFS, which released their self-tilted album in 2015. Franz Ferdinand’s fifth, full-length album Always Ascending was released earlier this year and with album singles “Feel The Love Go,” and “Lazy Boy,” the band continued forward with the quirky, disco-like take on  the Gang of Four-inspired sound that first won them international attention but with a loose, adventurous vibe; in fact, the album’s latest single “Glimpse of Love,” finds the band subtly nodding at house music, thanks to the use of twinkling and arpeggiated keys — but within an expansive, groove-friendly song structure. Interestingly, the version of the song that accompanies the recently released video is a re-working of the album track, re-corded as live and mixed by Serban Ghenea, who has worked with the likes of Rihanna and Lorde.

Directed by Alice Kunisue, the hilarious and surreal visuals for “Glimpse of Love” was shot just outside of Paris and features the members of the band primping, brooding and flat out being ridiculous.

Live Footage: Rafiq Bhatia Performing “Breaking English”

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?’”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English‘s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.

New Audio: Rafiq Bhatia’s Atmospheric and Soulful New Single

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?'”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English’s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.