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HEEMS ANNOUNCES A SECOND NEW ALBUM SHARES LEAD SINGLE AND VIDEO “MANTO”

After returning from a nearly decade-long hiatus in January, Himanshu ‘Heems’ Suri announces his second album of 2024, VEENA LP, set for release on August 23rd via his own label Veena Sounds. Alongside the announcement, Heems shares the Sid Vashi-produced lead single “MANTO,” which features Vijay Iyer and arrives alongside a stark Nardeep Khurmi-directed video. Khurmi is an award-winning writer and director perhaps best known for his debut feature Land of Gold, which is how Heems was introduced to his work. The music video features the women in Heems’ family; elderly aunts who are the last generation of survivors, his mother, his sister, and his 2 little nieces. 

Speaking about the video’s origin, Khrumi shares:

“Hima sliding into my DMs after he saw my debut feature Land of Gold to tell me how much it meant to him was a career high point. I grew up with his music. Felt seen with his music. It was the first time I’d heard someone speak my language with my perspective. ‘MANTO’ started out as a love letter to one of Heems’s favorite artists, Joseph Cornell, and his film Aviary, and evolved into an exploration of inherited trauma and sharing our love for the women who made sacrifices in order to raise us. It was an honor to help bring out what’s in Heems’ heart.“

“These two inspirations, these parts of me creatively, Joseph Cornell’s The Aviary and Guru Dutt’s Mr. and Mrs. 55 were released the same 1955. This wasn’t that long after 1947’s Partition. So along with S.H. Manto and Amrita Pritam, all these thoughts were going around in my head,” Heems shares. 

In addition to its heartfelt storytelling, the video sees Heems wearing clothes by Stoffa, a New York City-based brand co-founded by Indian designer Agyesh Madan. Speaking on the crossover of music and fashion in the music video Heems shares “Getting fit for Stoffa was better than therapy. When two creative people spend enough time together they figure out a way to turn that into work, so work feels less like work. The idea of the outer borough flaneur came about with Agyesh’s eye for design, and also looking at Guru Dutt. 

VEENA LP is a confessional confronting trauma in many forms – generational, familial, and complex. The track “MANTO” digs deep into the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 with the same brutal honesty as the writer it’s named after. “I ask my dad why my grandma’s so quiet, I ask my mom why my grandma’s not smiling, I ask my therapist why I’m always wilding,” he raps on “MANTO,” over wrenching drama-keys from his self-proclaimed mentor and frequent collaborator Vijay Iyer.

“Inter- and trans-generational trauma is something that is starting to be spoken about more in psychiatry.” adds Sid Vashi, the producer of MANTO and the rest of the VEENA LP. VEENA LP in its entirety who also holds a background in psychiatry. “The way Hima discusses it on Manto is so visceral and I think it really highlights the emotional impact of historical traumas that can sometimes be overlooked in theoretical discussions.”

“MANTO”’s accompanying black-and-white video features a static Heems sitting in the middle of a chaotic Jackson Heights’ Diversity Plaza, where Heems previously brought Anthony Bourdain for an episode of the late chef’s acclaimed series Parts Unknown. VEENA LP follows Heems’ highly-acclaimed album LAFANDAR, which was released earlier this year and highlighted by Stereogum, HipHopDX, Pitchfork, Passion of the Weiss, and The FADER amongst others. 

Tethering VEENA LP together are voicemail skits from a who’s-who of India’s global creative community. No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar, frequent collaborator Riz Ahmed, and more check in, voicing appreciation for their friend’s work and constant mentions of his health, hinting at the burden that very same work is placing on him. “Several of the voicemails are real,” Heems revealed. Moments like these are most revelatory on the project. We see how a group of artists sharing a cultural background encourage and support one another as a community. Only Heems, a curator by profession, could put together such an ensemble, where Arooj (Aftab), Avan (Jogia), and Ankur (Tiwary) stand side by side. 

Pre-save/order VEENA LP and listen to “MANTO” above. See album details below, and stay tuned for more Heems coming soon. 

Heems

VEENA LP

Produced by Sid Vashi

June 26th, 2024

VEENA SOUNDS

1. VEENA 

2. RATATOUILLE

3. MANTO with Vijay Iyer

4. BOURDAIN featuring Mr. Cheeks

5. UNDERBELLY

6. RAKHI featuring Pavvan, Ajji

7. FLOWERS featuring Navz- 47

8. JUHI with Hasan Minhaj

9. DAME

10. BANSHEE featuring Cool Calm Pete 

11. RIGHTEOUS

https://youtu.be/cSxXrr455W8?si=HZ4mqakbkYRP4fs8 

https://open.spotify.com/track/7Gu0awrdJUvfRNDoXIIAMF?si=TZWlc3cWTxWBKeizpN2RFQ 

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