Bhi Bhiman doesn't draw back from tough matters in his music. And together with his new album, he's placing a twist on a well-known medium to encourage the discussions his topic matter deserves.
The singer-songwriter selected to launch his newest physique of labor, Peace of Mind, not as a standard album, however via a podcast of the identical identify on the Critical Frequency podcasting community. He'll current the music via the 9 episodes that dissect his musical decisions whereas additionally strolling via the album's inspirations with a commendable roster of friends. Snippets and stems of the tune will filter via conversations with writer Dave Eggers; Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's voting challenge; commentator, writer and producer Reza Aslan; and others as they unpack the political, cultural and sociological themes that form Bhiman's work.
The music itself is "Pink Floyd meets Curtis Mayfield" as Bhiman describes it, a heady breed of protest psych-rock that follows the DIY spirit of Tame Impala and the War on Drugs. "They’re an enormous affect, not solely of their music, however how they create and the way they do it by themselves, and it’s largely how I did this album," he explains.
Below, Bhiman tells Billboard concerning the inspirations for the challenge, the way it's modified his listening habits and what different musicians can be taught from his experiment. New episodes of Peace of Mind hit each Friday on SoundCloud, Apple Music and different streaming platforms.
I like that you just’re doing one thing new with an album format whereas tapping into an entire new potential for podcasts. Where did you get the preliminary concept to do that?
The preliminary concept got here from my spouse [Katie Ross], who’s additionally my supervisor. She’s an enormous podcast fan and really concerned within the podcast enterprise already with loads of true crime podcasts. I used to be a slower adopter. She believed within the concept earlier than I believed within the concept. I didn’t have the total imaginative and prescient of it. The album was finished a yr in the past. I wrote the album earlier than; it’s not like I made the podcast and am writing songs simply to suit the factor. I wrote the songs at the start, they usually all needed to do with a political theme. It’s one thing I’ve at all times written about. I’ve at all times had politics or social commentary in my music. This is tremendous pure to me and proper in my wheelhouse. Each tune has these completely different themes — immigration, voter suppression, Russia, and so on. Because of the recognition and the power of political podcasts and society and tradition podcasts, it sort of suits in there someplace. It’s enjoyable to experiment. It’s enjoyable to see the place it’s going.
What’s releasing about utilizing a podcast as a automobile on your music that you just wouldn’t get if you happen to had been to simply launch the songs your self in a extra conventional manner?
Part of it was out of not ever having been actually approached critically by a label. I’ve finished some fairly massive issues: I’ve performed Carnegie Hall, been on Jools Holland on the BBC, toured with Chris Cornell and finished plenty of various things. I haven’t been approached critically by a report label. If I didn’t assume I used to be any good I’d’ve given up a very long time in the past, however I feel I’ve one thing to supply, a perspective to supply in the identical manner Hasan Minhaj has a perspective to supply in comedy, or David Chang — he’s a chef and he’s as American as apple pie. You come to learn the way American they’re as a result of they’ve defined it to you. That’s been tremendous interesting to me: When I’ve felt misunderstood, I’ve gotten plenty of appears and stuff like that, however there’s one thing the place I’m not passing an American authenticity check typically in individuals’s eyes.
This was a manner for me to be like, “I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, my identify is Bhi Bhiman, this is the way you say it” — that was tremendous interesting, proper there, to me — and I might do what I need as a result of the podcast panorama is the wild west proper now. It’s model new. It’s tremendous thrilling. It’s addictive. It’s a method to clarify myself very clearly and let individuals know who I’m with out assuming I’m coming from possibly an offended place, let’s say. I’ve been enhancing these episodes, and there’s positively a really feel to them: the music is coming in, the stems are serving as sound design and musical beds for the interviews. There’s an honesty the place I’m looking for one thing and present individuals one thing in the best way Anthony Bourdain sort of did — completely completely different medium, however I’m coming from the identical place. But I’m taking a look at America, particularly.
Why do you assume that’s, that persons are gravitating towards podcasts on this second — and why they’d be open to discovering new music this manner?
The draw to podcasts for me, no less than, is that on this screen-addiction world, we’re simply taking a look at our telephones and we’re sort of incapacitated: You’re holding it in your left or proper hand, and what else are you doing? Having a podcast on and having your fingers and eyes free, there’s some zen-like factor that occurs when individuals hearken to podcasts typically. It calms individuals down typically, too. You can do different issues. You can use your fingers! You can’t take a look at your cellphone. It’s this bizarre dream state the place you’ve headphones in and also you’re simply strolling round listening to stuff. It’s very cool. That’s my concept… This barrage of reports, you’ll be able to’t cease when Trump does one thing. You’re on the mercy of no matter it’s, so you’ve loads of management over podcasts. Whether you’ve management in your life or not, you management your podcasts like a god. You can take somewhat little bit of management again of your life, I feel.
How did this strategy — releasing these songs in a podcast format — change the best way you devour, write or hearken to music?
The podcast has been proudly owning my life just lately, so I haven’t been writing loads of music, nevertheless it’s modified the best way I hear issues. There’s a meaningfulness: You know individuals will come away with one thing right here, as a result of a few of these interviews are very shifting. By finish of the collection, the album is launched — all 9 episodes — [and] it’ll be a reasonably far-ranging factor. We’ll discuss all of those completely different issues occurring in America. The podcast alternative was an excellent one. It made me pay attention much more intently.
Did any of those conversations go away an imprint on the songs for you?
It feels like I do know precisely what I’m speaking about after I’m writing these songs — and I do know rather a lot! — however with every of those interviews, I be taught a lot. I used to be the dumbest individual within the room each single time. I’m speaking to individuals like Dale Ho, the ACLU Voter Rights Project senior member, he’s combating for these gerrymandering and voter suppression circumstances within the highest ranges of courts — and I’m simply sitting again and listening and realizing [that] this has actually expanded my world to an important extent. These had been hour-and-a-half conversations with individuals I don’t get to have essentially in my day by day. I discovered a ton.
The potentialities with the place we will go along with this medium are thrilling. Is that one thing you’ve thought of if you had been ending up the primary few episodes of this challenge?
Yeah. I hope it opens individuals’s eyes to the quantity of energy you’ll be able to have. A whole lot of musicians are most likely pissed off and really feel like they’re not getting a shot, not getting heard the best way they need to get heard. Like I stated, you’ll be able to sort of take management of the narrative.