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Interview: Strong Asian Mothers


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99% of the time, behind every great musician stands an incredible mother. In Strong Asian Mothers’ case, this couldn’t be more true. The three-piece outfit, Kalim Patel, Josh Stadlen and Amer Chadha-Patel, pay tribute to their mothers’ strength with pure energy and musical mash-up magic.

Strong Asian Mothers

After all, their musical talents were all rooted by the special ladies in their life. Khushi was pushed into guitar lessons at school, and Josh expressed his dreams to his mum after seeing a pianist on television (then he saw his uncle play drums and apparently that trumped them), Amer was played Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan whilst in the womb…

“Apparently when they took him to a Nusrat concert aged two, he speed waddled from his seat to the stage and got down to the music in his nappy…” confesses vocalist, Kalim.

Filling the streets of London, the rhythmic sounds of Strong Asian Mothers are pricking ears, tapping toes and triggering notions of nostalgia. Blending the old school hip hop rhythms found in the most colourful street corners and throwing a flirtatious layer of slick vocals  on top, there’s a sensual movement to their tracks, an electronic flourish that defines now. Defines us as a generation.

“We started the band purely as a fun thing to do at parties and as a musical release that couldn't be fulfilled by other projects.”

“The aim was to write stuff that you would want to dance to, regardless of not knowing it beforehand. As we've grown we've taken those values with us but also developed an appreciation for strong lyrical content and compositions too, so I guess we just hope we're creating danceable and enjoyable music that still makes you think!”

The boys have been mates for way over a decade, they’ve established that “Amer's cooking could probably solve all the world's problems” and Khusi is the power napper of the three (“He once did it at a Champions League Semi-Final match at Wembley.”) Josh is a “prodigiously skilled magician”.

There’s something familiar about the trio. The class clowns with quick wit and boyish charm, the ones that the teachers can’t help but laugh at whilst trying to be stern. It’s easy to imagine, with a history spanning back to their school days, they dedicated their debut EP to their greatest memory. The heavy scent of Lynx Africa.

“The name harks back to our youth, everyone wearing that deodorant in secondary school, the pungent aroma of the boys changing rooms etc. It's the smell of our generation!” Kalim enthuses.

“The music is just a complete amalgamation of all the styles of music the three of us love and we wanted to create an explosive debut that really grabbed people’s attention!”

The EP sounds as though it could have been created in the early noughties, it’s playful and carefree. Underlying dub drops crawl their way to the surface, lyrics are fast flowing and breathe an air of cool. Where today the majority of music consumption is online, the boys don’t throw this aside, they instead retract to the timeless tracks that came pre-internet.

Having dropped a wonderfully sultry cover of En Vogue’s ‘Don’t Let Go’, angelic harmonies grow devil horns in their delicious delivery that teeters on delirious.

“The song is an absolute classic that stands the test of time and is the greatest sexy song about commitment ever,” explains Kalim, remembering, “We've been dancing, and secretly crying, to it for 20 years. We actually all separately tried tens of different solo attempts at re-working it, some quite bombastic, some really left-field! But our drive to cover it was so strong though that we never get bored! Eventually we just stripped it down to its groovy core and added bit of a Strong Asian twist.”

This ‘Strong Asian Twist’ they speak of may soon become a household term; an umbrella for all musical electro-pop finishes. Nimble shots of fire.

Judging their music by “its ability to cause a joyous physical reaction”, the band reference bouncing in doing so, commenting on the movement of textures in tracks. Genres provide no constraint, though the band are fully aware that they exist.

“Our sound and style is a direct result of crossing and blending so many others, and if that wasn't acceptable we probably wouldn't exist! As for genres we love, there are influences from almost everything in our stuff, the entire rock spectrum, Jazz and funk, huge hip hop influences and even elements of classical. We love all music!

“Except gabba, fuck gabba, that shit is nonsense.”

A “democratic trio” the music reflects each of the boys equally, there’s bridges between inspiration but a differ in taste. “We are always bringing in things that the other might not have thought of…” says Kalim. “It may be a style of production or a random sample of a goat.”

Latest single, and first off the forthcoming EP ‘Animals’, features both. A slippery bassline and skewed beats, make for an eclectic journey.

“Musically it began as a 'sketch' of sorts that Josh wrote when we challenged ourselves to make a beat every day for a month.” They explain, when the band started to put the track together, they added automated drums and reverbs, recorded squeaking toys and altered pitch.

The lyrics were written on Khushi’s experience of waking up post house party and hearing a woman shout “I FUCKING HATE YOU WHEN I’M SOBER!” In turn, “the song became a sort of harsh explanation to someone of something they should really have been able to see; debauched drunken nights and flings in which one person wants more than the other does.

“We love it because at points it resembles a classic R'n'B tune, but also has this crazy dark section towards the end that comes out of nowhere and despite constantly evolving, feels really complete somehow.”

The track wobbles in places, swirling in the stars and sounding drunk from hushed whispers to moments of shouting chaos. Clattering beneath almost stutter the reverbed words that run into themselves, it’s ironically intoxicating.

“It's a really perfect example of three strange minds coming to create a very whole and singular thing!”

There lies the magic of Strong Asian Mothers, three individuals undeniably connected by vibrancy. Turning their intrigue, curiosities and passions into effervescent burst, this isn’t a sugarcoat, but more of a dreamworld.

With a string of releases leading to the new EP, the plan is as follows: “then we take over the world Pinky and the Brain style. That, or we'll give up on rock 'n' roll cause it's too hard and just move to Costa Rica.

“The country runs completely on renewable energy which is savage and we could open a sloth sanctuary.”

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