“There’s something about a clock and a heart beat as if they speak the same language; unease, desire, longing, and ultimately sadness all struck the same cloth. To stay is a type of death, the death of what you may never become. To leave is the death of a life lived, or the heartbreak of whom you may leave behind, on a shoreline, or at an airport lobby. Humeysha’s new music video for “For Love, From The Law,” opens with an image of artwork featuring a woman’s face in a sari, the ticking of the music over his voice pulsates a tension that is only soon revealed to show Zain Alam (singer/songwriter of Humeysha) staring at the photo. With a clock sitting close by the picture frame, unapologetic of its message to him, the scene rapidly turns to plumes, making use of fast pans that put you in a state of varying narratives between the two women on lookers and Zain.Just when he reaches for his guitar in the distance, he’s met with a hand on his shoulder. Perhaps the motive peaks out a little here, shoulder’s are often where we carry our burden. The sadness in Zain’s Kajal covered eyes when he looks at his guitar: it’s the face of his muse and his passion calling him simultaneously while his duty to loved ones is anchoring him to home, an Asian heritage story as old as the mountains and hills. Let me give you some brownsplaining for fun, i’d like to point out in many Asian cultures, white clothing is worn as a sign of mourning. It is the traditional color of funeral garb, and for extra credit, the word Humeysha in Hindi translates to forever or always. Still not sure what this video is about? How about a poem?
The great Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran once wrote,
“Long were the days of pain I have spent
within its walls (home), and long were the nights of aloneness;
and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?
How shall I go in peace and without sorrow? Nay, not without a
wound in the spirit shall I leave this city.”Luckily my meandering imagination was met with this response when Zain had this to say, “This is indeed a song about longing, struggle, and the triumph of building something anew. It was inspired by the hundreds of migration narratives I heard in India while working as an oral historian for the 1947 Partition Archive and the similarities to my own family’s story of coming to the West from Pakistan.” What does that indicate to me? Well, it’s actually what I find most compelling whenever I think of Humeysha’s contribution to Brooklyn. It’s the immigrant story. Brooklyn is the immigrant story. I get the spidey-sense, that Humeysha are adding a perspective to the Brooklyn–NY Indie Music Scene in a way that’s a product of the past and yet only made possible by the present. I remember a time immigration was synonymous with the name Brooklyn. Your parents immigrated here after all and probably told you to follow a sensible career path (a generation I was born into) but in 2016, with the South Asian Diaspora voice emerging steadily into the collective consciousness on television and film nationally, in New York City today, Desi-American musicians are making some powerful art and noise completely reflective of the coalescence I speak of happening right now in this modern age. (Humeysha, Half Waif, Dawn Of Midi, Red Baraat, Brooklyn Raga Massive, and so on and so forth.)
Perhaps it’s a measure of sixty somewhat years of increasing immigrating to America, but this balance of old and new, is maturing, it’s full on fermented, allowing the brilliance and ingenuity of a younger generation to emerge wildly creative and thirsty more than ever, however bound in many ways to a legacy they inherit. Varying narratives enhance experience, a blending of that narrative with the speed and spark of this city make for something I think we can look back on in ten years and say, “Hey, remember when Desi and Paki kids starting making Indie and Alt records that sounded so damn good?”