INsiders Guide: Chin Injeti, The F16s, Bonander, Chris de Burgh.
In an ode to ‘letting go’ and ‘taking life as it comes,’ multi-GRAMMY and JUNO Award-winning alt-hip hop and RnB artist Chin Injeti soars with this, his newest single, “Sparrow” — available now!
With Injeti handling all instruments, with the exception of the song’s extra synth parts — “They were played by my friend, Anthony Craig Bell, a producer from Philly who produced Jasmine Sullivan, Jill Scott, and many more,” he shares.
“‘Sparrow’ is my little ode to freedom,” Injeti continues. “It was the perfect ‘escape’ when I was held ‘prisoner’ in my basement, as I wrote it in my home studio while I was in quarantine.”
It was within those restricted confines of self-isolation that Injeti unearthed a refreshed sense of inspiration and a steady stream of new songwriting and production projects — including the release of new singles, “Falling,” featuring Esthero on vocals and Delhi 2 Dublin’s Tarun Nayer on tabla, “For the Love of Life,” featuring Teon Gibbs, “Golden,” featuring Thieves Like Us, and now “Sparrow.”
With over 500,000+ streams across platforms like Spotify, YouTube, and more, Chin Injeti’s presence on the scene pre-dates such platforms; he fronted the iconic ‘90s JUNO and Much Music Video Award-winning band Bass is Base, was awarded SOCAN’s Songwriter of the Year Award, and enjoyed years of producing, creating, collaborating, touring, and performing with the likes of DJ Khalil, The Fugees, The Roots, Jamiroquai, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Esthero, Bedouin Soundclash, and more.
Injeti has also created and taught curriculum for Vancouver’s NIMBUS, discussed the healing properties of music as a featured speaker at TEDx, and been long recognized for his life’s work as an inspiration, teacher, mentor, leader, innovator, singer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, collaborator, student, and yes, icon, with a star on Vancouver’s prestigious Walk of Fame.
“Sparrow” is available now.
The F16’s have been dominating India’s music scene for over a decade, developing their own unique brand of eccentric and danceable alt pop. Deemed an ‘artist to watch’ by Rolling Stone early in their career, The F16’s have held up to the high expectations, becoming a mainstay at major festivals and venues across the country. After two EP’s and a full-length, the four-piece return in 2021 with their EP ‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’ and upcoming single ‘Easy Bake Easy Wake, now out via House Arrest. The project is a paradoxically joyful celebration of the human condition under duress, scored by some of the finest pop music India has to offer.
Carrying on with their own distinct flair for smooth and vibrant alt-pop production, ‘Easy Bake Easy Wake’ is a surreal and sultry summertime jam that fits in perfectly amongst these warming summer days. Tying in with the EP’s overall themes of disillusionment, lyricist Josh Fernandez croons about the contradictory allure of stardom – and the rejection it brings. Meanwhile the rest of the band embrace a heavier and more detailed sound, pushing further towards a maximalist approach. As the song nears the end, it’s shimmering nonchalant funk falls off the rails, down a cliff, and into the chaos below. But somehow, ‘Easy Bake Easy Wake’ remains innately danceable throughout.
‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’ reportedly sees the band pushing their sound to the furthest reaches of their influences. When the world was in lockdown the group holed up to write and record their EP, moving in together and bringing Harshan Radhakrishnan’s studio with them. Starting each day of the EPs production listening to Frank Sinatra and classic jazz tracks is an influence that shines through in the nostalgic groove and skilful brass arrangements on songs like ‘Trouble In Paradise’ and ‘The Apocalypse’. Throughout the day the four would listen to a varied mix of genres from psych rock to post-punk to trap music, with artists like Vince Staples and The Strokes on repeat, accounting for the diverse eclecticism of the record.
While the EP continues the Indian quartet’s long-held reputation for crafting escapist, pop leaning indie rock, it also reflects the fact that we can no long remain oblivious to the social, environmental, economic, and political injustice that plague our world. It shouldn’t be surprising that the members of The F16s saw last year as a year for the ‘awakening of the oppressed,’ especially in their native India, where the pandemic managed to further magnify the stark inequalities between the oppressed poor and working classes and the greed, negligence, incompetence of those in power. And as a result, the dreams of a ‘swimming pool and a yacht’ on ‘WKND FRNDS’ is completely shattered — and revealed to be vapid and silly.
Speaking about the single, the band said ”Musically speaking, ‘Easy Bake, Easy Wake’ was the one from the EP that took its time in getting done. Sections were being switched out intermittently till we landed on the winning formula. In contrast, the video was a whirlwind from conception to completion. While we felt the need to keep it DIY, we acknowledged that an educated outsider’s perspective and process mattered. Lendrick and Prayoon had previously worked with Josh and his solo project, and their work spoke for itself.
We gathered more friends and pulled a favor or two to find ourselves in the woods near the shore, sprinting in yellow jumpsuits as we batter into each other in chase of metaphorical wealth encased within the confines of a surprisingly convincing golden egg. Let’s just say the band weren’t built for it and were out of commission for a brief moment. Exhausted, yet exhilarated for what was to come.”
‘Easy Bake Easy Wake’ is now out via House Arrest. This is the second single from The F16’s upcoming EP ‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’, set for release October 22.
Enigmatic and alluring, Bonander is set to release her visionary debut album, Things We Don’t Talk About through Icons Creating Evil Art on 10th September 2021. The full-length follows leading tracks ‘Backseat’, ‘Martha’ and ‘Gone In The Wind’.
Bonander is the shorthand for Elliner Sterner Bonander. Sporting the role of musician, arranger and producer, the native Swede is a woman unchained. Injecting darkness into the candied vein of pop, her upcoming LP demonstrates her sheer femme-power, unpicking existentialist tropes through a feminist lens.
Things We Don’t Talk About is a monumental debut in summation; where cinematic strings meet playful synth melodies and dense bass lines caress vocals that catch on the wind.
In addition to the daydream, analogue warmth of forerunners ‘Backseat’ and ‘Martha’, Bonander’s penchant for darkness erupts in tracks such as ‘Silent Lights’ and ‘Ms. Mitchell’. The album is broken up by softer ditties such as ‘Statue’, ‘Slumber Love’ and ‘Ode’, which unlock her more vulnerable side.
Traversing her perspective of the world and relationships through music, Things We Don’t Talk About, Bonander encourages the listener to join her discourse of uncomfortable topics. Meanwhile, the album brings noise to those who have fallen custom to silence such as her homage to the first female sniper in ‘Annie’ and all-consuming, explosive number ‘Ms. Mitchell’ for one of the first acknowledged astronomers Maria Mitchell. “All tracks touch the same topic: the complexity of the female identity, an identity we simplify, harass, abuse and forget in our everyday life,” she says.
Bonander’s music carries a prominent darkness that leaves no one untouched.
D I S C O V E R
Chris de Burgh
Re-imagining the fabled tale of a folklore favourite has been the latest creative challenge for Chris de Burgh, and his new album, The Legend of Robin Hood, finds the iconic artist at his imaginative best.
Available now, the compelling release breathes music and lyrical life into a centuries-old and much-loved classic, re-telling the story with cinematic vision coupled seamlessly to music of emotional depth and power.
The concept for the 27th studio album by Chris emerged from his involvement in ‘Robin Hood’, a stage musical about the infamous Sherwood Forest nobleman and his band of outlaws. Chris was invited to contribute storylines and melodies to the musical, which will be produced later in the year in Fulda, Germany, by Spotlight Productions, a theatrical company that has already mounted eight successful musicals.
“Since I was writing songs for this,” he explains, “I thought ‘Why not expand the story and put an album out, too?’”
Chris was eminently qualified and able to do that on any number of levels. Most significantly, with his 2010 album Moonfleet, based on the book of the same name, he had crafted a highly successful musical interpretation of an already existing story.
None of which necessarily made tackling Robin Hood any easier…
“I learned a great deal from Moonfleet — particularly how to set out a story in sequence,” he says. “If I had a problem advancing the story in song, I’d just go and read the book again. This time, we didn’t have a book. There is no book! I had to create my own story, my own version of this classic tale.
“In my story, Robin Hood is not a hero, but circumstances and injustice to others turned him into the hero that is now known all over the world. He initially comes across as an obnoxious young man in his late teens, but he subsequently shows a different and compassionate side and the qualities of a born leader.”
As has only very recently been suggested by a respected historian, Robin Hood is thought to have been a key target of King John, his son King Henry III, and their powerful justiciar (law-maker) Hubert de Burgh — who, almost incredibly, is an ancestor of Chris himself.
Given the inconsistencies concerning the dates in which Robin Hood is thought to have lived, Chris tells his version of the legend as if it were many years after Robin’s death — and in the setting of a candle-lit tavern where a small audience has gathered to hear it conveyed by a StoryTeller and enacted by his musicians, actors, and singers.
It has the romance and magic of a minstrel entertaining and enlightening the listener, and that is precisely what has made Chris so unique and peerless throughout his long career.
The tenth Chris de Burgh album to be produced by Chris Porter, The Legend of Robin Hood is, like Moonfleet, another aural extravaganza, played flawlessly by seasoned, talented musicians across a plethora of musical styles — from Medieval, ‘traditional’, nursery rhyme, folk and Celtic-infused to rock, classical, and choral.
Regardless of its central theme, the album stands up on its own as a new collection of vintage Chris de Burgh material, with instant, sing-along crowd-pleasers like “Live Life, Live Well” and “Open Your Eyes.”
It includes a new and reworked version of live favourite “Light A Fire” — from his 1982 album The Getaway — and the show-stopping, message-bearing anthem, “Legacy.” “You’ve always got to leave your audience singing and waving their arms in the air,” says Chris, “and I think ‘Legacy’ will do that.”
As ever, Chris has written songs with a view to live performance. “We’ll certainly be performing the album in its entirety on stage when circumstances permit us to safely tour again,” says Chris.
Available now via Justin Time Records, The Legend of Robin Hood is an album of evocative escapism, and a tonic for our troubled times.