New record confronts stereotypes with hard-hitting sound like Lou Reed fronting Led Zeppelin. See the video now at Rolling Stone India.
Clara May (L-R): Tom Silva, Jon Lewchenko, Michael Sinclair, Alex Gowland, Marcus Smith, Phillip Amererson. Photo Credit: Rachel Oftedahl.
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“American Desi” is the latest single and video from the latest album by Clara May
“Rich and alluring... a mini-melting pot of new American music.” – Chicago Sun-Times
“I’ve never heard an Indian song that had the grandeur and toughness of an early 70’s prog-rock ballad,” says Tom Silva, the Indian-American leader of Chicago rock band, Clara May. “‘American Desi’ is about the 20 million Indians who left India in search of a new life,” he says of the title track of the band’s new concept album, out today. “The words in English and Hindi evoke the feeling of not belonging, of being looked at by other people who define you and don’t understand where you’re from.”
American Desi, like its predecessor, explores themes surrounding identity and ethnicity, but this time from a more singular perspective. Silva recently discussed the record with MTV Desi and its story of how, at a time when immigration has become a flashpoint topic, the album makes the issue intensely personal by following a young man from the shores of Asia to Los Angeles to Middle America on a haunting journey of border crossings, loneliness, love and ultimately triumph.
“For every Indian who has become a success overseas,” Silva explains, “There are the millions who work in low-wage jobs without an education and without legal status. We never hear their voices. These people may never see their homeland again. This is the narrative at the heart of it.” It’s a story that may seem too heavy for a rock and roll record until you actually listen to American Desi. The album’s sound is heavy itself in all the right ways, making an epic noise with anthemic guitars, rattling bass, booming drums and Silva’s baritone.
Combined, it conjures something as offbeat but interesting as Lou Reed fronting Led Zeppelin as heard on the American Desi track “Badlands,” which features a drum solo in the great tradition of British drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon. The video for the album’s title track recently premiered via Rolling Stone India. The clip was directed by John Michael Bister, an accomplished Neuroscientist who hung up his lab coat to pursue his real passion: animation.
Silva explains, “We used archival footage, stop-motion and old-fashioned graphics to create a very tactile feel that juxtaposes Indian footage with iconic images of Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge as a way of suggesting the immigrant journey at the heart of the song.” Bister concurs, saying, “Once Tom suggested juxtaposing iconic American images with footage from India, the surreal, dreamlike aesthetic of the video really took off.”
Of the song’s sonics, Silva says, “I love the early 70’s British bands, but the biggest influence on this song was ‘Private Investigations’ by Dire Straits from 1982. It has a deep, brooding emptiness that is atmospheric, but also urgent. That’s why the song also has so much silence and emptiness – it’s to evoke that experience of having leaving home. That said, the swell in the second half of the song and the guitar work by Alex Gowland are meant to be defiant and convey the strength of these brave Indians.”
American Desi by Clara May is out now. Contact Josh Bloom at Fanatic for more information.
(S/R –Out Now)
04. The Last Word
05. You Called Out to Me
06. Long Shadow
07. KL Days
10. Perfect One
Clara May Links
Contact Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion