Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: BISHI

The artist talks her third studio album, Let My Country Awake, and picking her collaborators ahead of the project’s release.

Bishi Language is an Ocean Portrait by Frederic Aranda

Photography by Frederic Aranda

Bishi Language is an Ocean Portrait by Frederic Aranda
Photography by Frederic Aranda

Having experienced great success with her previous albums, artist Bishi is looking to unveil her third. With Let My Country Awake heading towards a warmly-received release, fans are gearing themselves up for a drop filled with Sitar-infused sounds and Bishi’s ethereal vocals. And, what better way to tease a new album than by dropping some its most sweet-sounding singles? With tracks “Language is an Ocean” and “Passport is a Palace” giving listeners a sought after insight into the project’s tone, the anticipation surrounding it continues to grow.

When speaking on her album came to be, Bishi explained, “I have co-produced this one with my friend Jeff Cook. I’ve also played all of the instruments. The title track of the album, ‘Let My Country Awake’, is a setting of a Tagore poem and is part-inspired by The Good Immigrant. During the pandemic, releasing music has become a more visual-based experience, be that through experimenting with VR, mixed reality or live streaming. I’ve acquired many new skills over lockdown programming in these mediums.”

In the run-up to the release of Let My Country Awake, the artist sat down with Wonderland to talk creating her third studio album, how the pandemic affected her sonically and her choice of collaborators. Head below to enjoy our interview with Bishi…

Talk us through your beginnings in music! When did you first realise your passion for the industry?
I first realised my passion for music as a child. I grew up with Indian Classical musicians who were superhuman in their talents but also kind, modest and warm. They liked each other and supported each other. All of these qualities had a massive effect on me.

Do you have any artists that you look up to in particular or any that you’d love to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Missy Elliott, St.Vincent, Terry Hall, David Byrne, Lyra Pramuk, Noveller or Bicep. Any one of these artists would be a dream come true.

Congratulations on the upcoming album, Let My Country Awake! Talk us through its sound.
I would describe it as Sitar-infused choral electronica. Like Meredith Monk-meets-Grimes with electronic sitars.

It is your third studio album! How will this one differ from others you have put out?
I have co-produced this one with my friend Jeff Cook. I’ve also played all of the instruments. The title track of the album, “Let My Country Awake”, is a setting of a Tagore poem and is part-inspired by The Good Immigrant. During the pandemic, releasing music has become a more visual-based experience, be that through experimenting with VR, mixed reality or live streaming. I’ve acquired many new skills over lockdown programming in these mediums.

BISHI Neon Sitar by Frederic Aranda
BISHI Black Widow by Frederic Aranda
BISHI Neon Sitar by Frederic Aranda
Photography by Frederic Aranda
BISHI Black Widow by Frederic Aranda

And, can you talk to us about the album’s lead single “Passport is a Palace”? What is the meaning behind this track?
The first single, “Language is an Ocean”, is about our ever-shifting definitions of language and identity. “Passport is a Palace” challenges our sense of belonging, how we shouldn’t be shamed by the stereotypes that people project onto us. “Let My Country Awake” is a setting of the Tagore Poem of speaking about freedom away from colonial oppression.

Do you have a favourite track from the album?
I see the album as a whole piece, with each song having its own meaning. It’s like a song cycle.

You have also collaborated with the likes of Nikesh Shukla and Darren Chetty for the upcoming album. How did you decide on who you would collaborate with for the album?
They were all writers and their essays featured in The Good Immigrant. Their essays really resonated with me. Had I not been so strapped for time, I would have interviewed more of the writers.

You also have a tour that will take you across Europe and the UK! How are you feeling about it? Did you have to do much preparation for it?
Yes, I practice until I pass out. It helps me to be in the moment, especially when I’m on stage. From the technicalities of live looping my sitar and voice to the live coded light show, from movement to visual design, I am hands-on with all the aspects. I like to imagine worlds and bring them to life.

What are you most excited about when it comes to the future? Are there any other projects that you would like to start on soon?
I’m looking forward to growing as a composer, producer and technologist. I’ve created a new composition and five-channel video piece for Coventry, City of Culture and a new choral piece for voice, piano, sitar and electronics for 200 children in East London. The sky is the limit.

NEW NOISE: BISHI

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