Prabir Trio Blends Indian Immigrant and American upbringing on debut LP, HAANJI.
Diverse, forward-thinking album tells the story of frontman’s immigration from India to Virginia by blending elements of Indian music into hook-laden rock and roll.
Haanji, the full-length debut from Prabir Trio, is a border-crossing record that blurs the boundaries between American rock & roll and Indian traditions. Influenced by alt-rock, classic British pop, Indian rāgas, garage grooves, and frontman Prabir Mehta's relocation from India to the USA as a wide-eyed 8 year old, it's an album about the personal evolution that many immigrants go through.
For Prabir, that evolution was catalyzed by music. Uprooted from his childhood home and transplanted to Richmond, Virginia, he fell in love with the guitar-driven sounds of the FM radio. Western music helped acclimate him to western ideals. It helped him understand his new world. Decades later, he remains a man caught between cultures, proudly based in Richmond — where Haanji was recorded at Virginia Moonwalker Studio, using the same soundboard once owned by iconic local venue The Flood Zone — yet still devoted to the family members and customs of his native India, too.
Joined by bandmates Kelli Strawbridge, Kenneka Cook, and Russell Lacy, Prabir funnels that unique perspective into Haanji. These songs find room not only for electric guitar, four-part vocal harmonies, and raw rock & roll, but also sitar, tanpura, his mother's harmonium, and his father's tablas. Gluing those ingredients together is the autobiographical songwriting of a frontman who recalls taking his first steps on US soil ("Immigrant Song"), learning about his newly-adopted home ("America"), discovering rock and roll ("Silverchair"), finding a place in his community ("Bamboo"), and falling in love along the way ("Sally Please"). It's a coming-of-age chronicle with a bicultural twist, filled with songs that are as unique as Prabir's own experience.
A longtime champion of Richmond's arts community, Mehta has spent the better part of two decades working with outlets like NPR's Morning Edition, the Richmond Symphony, the Science Museum of Virginia, and his own Gallery 5 non-profit organization. He's spent much of that time onstage, too, fronting the critically-acclaimed power-pop act Prabir & The Substitutes before merging the worlds of indie-rock and classical music with the band Goldrush. To him, music has always been more than an art form. It's the mechanism by which he — and human society as a whole — has grown and progressed.
Haanji highlights that progression, taking listeners on a journey from Prabir's youth to the present day.
I'm celebrating Diwali by releasing SLOWLY.
This is a song I wrote while in India a few years back, but I could never think of the final line to sum it all up. As I was leaving India and getting in my final hang with my grandmother, the topic of impermanence, her old age, and the pace of life came up. We chatted on how the world is moving at a faster and faster pace. I told her things need to get done quickly to ensure a better life for many. She pointed out that somethings should not be rushed though. I asked her for an example and she said (in translation from Gujarati) "I will love you slowly." Loving someone should not be rushed according to my grandmother. Cherish and simmer the love between each other slowly as the world moves on more quickly by the day. I miss my grandmother Hansa bhen every time I visit India, but her inspiration and dharmic presence appears anytime this song is hummed, sung, streamed, or performed live. I could not be more excited to share this one with you all.
SLOWLY will be released this Diwali weekend. Jai Ho and let love guide the way....quickly or slowly.
FRESH OFF THE BOARDS!
The new BAMBOO single is dope and my tortured love song about one of my favorite places on Earth. Kelli, Russell, and I have spent a lot of time at this spot and has become a part of our local regular experiences. If you ever come visit Richmond be sure to stop by the best bar and musical scene hang in town folks!
Enjoy the "Bamboo" song my friends!
This is the first recording with the trio. Many songs were recorded at the Virginia Moonwalker studio by our own Russell Lacy and these four made the cut for the first release. They are gritty, upbeat, hook laden, and ready for your ears. Kelli Strawbridge and Russell Lacy's performances bring these songs to life with a pulse that drives them onward beat by beat, second by second. Once the songs were completed they were given to Nashville mega audio freak, Linwood Regensberg for mixing and the finishing touches. Ed Brooks in Seattle gave these recordings a mastering to make them pop off your speakers. Brent McCormick's trippy art work wraps up the record to bring some visual flavor to what the audio has captured. I'm very proud of this set of songs and hope you get a chance to dig into them. We'll be playing a ton of shows in support of this release so stay tuned, watch for the bat-signal, and always let love guide.
Looking forward to seeing you at the next show!