While new music Fridays are dedicated to soaking up the sweet sounds of newly released tunes, they are also a good time to ponder what might be coming up next. And, when it comes to releases to get excited about, dropping in the not-so-distant future, Bhi’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Famous is one that we are particularly excited about, especially as it coincides with the forever-important AAPI month.
“I wrote and recorded all of these songs in my home studio,” says Bhi of his new album, set to drop in July. “Then I brought in producer and mixer Sam Kassirer to help get them over the finish line. He’s an amazing keys player and is great at adding texture.”
Ahead of the release of his album and the music video for its track “Helpless”, the artist sat down with Wonderland to talk his globally-inspired sound, his favourite collaboration to date and personal favourites from the upcoming project. Head below to enjoy our interview with Bhi…
Hey Bhi, how are you? How has life been this year?
I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been focused on finishing up the album since the beginning of the year, and it’s always a good feeling to finish up a project.
Let’s start at the beginning, how did you first get into music, and what sparked your interest?
I started playing the guitar at around the age of seven, but I didn’t take it seriously until I was 13. I got injured during a baseball tournament and was out for six months, and I started playing all day, every day. It truly was a compulsion, and my guitar became my best friend. It was something I could lean on.
And your Tamil-Sri Lankan, do you think that your heritage inspired you in any way?
I think indirectly, it has. I grew up with a majority of my family in different countries around the world. My parents have 13 siblings spread across the world. Sri Lanka, England, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana and Trinidad. So my worldview was always pretty broad, even as a kid from St. Louis, Missouri.
You’ve collaborated with a range of people over the years, what has been the most stand out moment for you?
I think performing with Chris Cornell every night while we were on tour. His vocal style and songwriting have had a huge influence on me, so having him bring me out to perform with him was pretty incredible. Soundgarden was maybe the first AAPI rock band, with founding members Chris, Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto. Kim has been a major influence on me as well, and seeing an Indian American in a major rock band was a big deal to me growing up.
And now you’re about to drop your album, talk us through the production process!
I wrote and recorded all of these songs in my home studio. Then I brought in producer and mixer Sam Kassirer to help get them over the finish line. He’s an amazing keys player and is great at adding texture.
What song do you think means the most to you?
“Up All Night”, partly because I wrote it during a difficult time when my father-in-law’s health was failing before he passed away. But on the other hand, it is entirely relatable to anyone with children or anyone who has taken care of a loved one in their time of need.
And what do you hope people take away from your music?
With this particular collection, I hope that it can bring some comfort. These past few years have been marked by so much loss – both for me personally and the world as a whole. It felt cathartic to write about it, like a search for life after death.
You’re releasing this to honour AAPI month, what made you do this? What does it mean to you?
I think the ultimate goal for Asian Americans is to just be seen as equal. Not just in the entertainment industry, but in American life in general. We are still seen as the perpetual foreigner, even for AAPI who have been here for generations and served in the military for generations.
Who would you say inspires you?
I’d say great writing inspires me. Whether it’s music, a novel, TV, or a stand-up comedian. If something is written well, there is no denying it, and in an industry where looks and superficiality reign, it’s inspiring to see someone who truly knows their craft.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
I’m really excited to release this record and get these songs out in the world. A lot of them were written during a dark time but they are meant to be hopeful and cathartic.