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Hear Bengaluru Rockers The Grafted Branch Address Racism on ‘Hey Black!’

The swaying ballad marks the debut single for frontman Allen James, who dedicates the song to the Black Lives Matter movement

Anurag Tagat Oct 16, 2020

Bengaluru rock band The Grafted Branch. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Bengaluru-based singer and composer Allen James says he can tell you a thing or two about racism. “My own aunt married a Nigerian 30 years ago. You can imagine what the family would have gone through. But you don’t give evil a color,” says the frontman of rock band The Grafted Branch.

After starting up in 2018 and running through a few lineup changes, the vocalist has currently found the right bunch to work on the band’s debut single “Hey Black!” It was spurred on by the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year and the consequent scaled-up Black Lives Matter marches across the U.S. and the world. While the opening line of the song can be interpreted as James stating black lives matter, The Grafted Branch are also talking about the larger problem of inhumanity in their spirited rock ballad.

James says about the intention, “Let it pinch and poke everybody according to what their conscience says. The lyrics go, ‘For anything less than humanity, has a color called disparity/And it’s black but it’s not in the skin.’ Any inhumane act is dark and thus synonymous with the color black. It can be politicians cheating the public, it can be adultery, it can be murder.”

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Fully aware of the fact that Indians often talk about movements in the U.S. that grow popular via media but ignore their own issues, James says that the band’s catalog essentially addresses local and global communities about peace, love and harmony. “If you sandwich that together, you get a wonderful thing called humanity. Our content is only going to be around that,” he says brightly.

Recorded and produced by drummer and mutli-instrumentalist Jared Sandhy (from metallers Final Surrender and Inner Sanctum), “Hey Black!” is amongst 49 songs that James has written and is currently polishing up alongside guitarists Isaac Paul and Azariah John, bassist Avik Lahri and drummer Achish Jeremiah. James adds, “The collection of songs we have is versatile. I call ourselves a rock ‘n roll band, because it’s pretty varied. You might listen to this song and say it’s slow pop, whereas we have a song called ‘The Door’ and it’s perfectly classic rock. I have a couple of reggae-based songs and a hip-hop song I’m working on too.”

Watch the video for “Hey Black!” below. Stream on Spotify, Apple Music and JioSaavn.

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