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Exclusive Premiere: Indian-American R&B Artist Amir Kelly Reclaims Intimacy on ‘Eden’

The Los Angeles-based self-proclaimed ‘Blindian pop’ artist represents both Black and Indian music on the first release off his upcoming debut self-titled EP

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Anurag Tagat Nov 22, 2019

Indian-American artist Amir Kelly. Photo: Caleb Griffin

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Born to an African-American father and a mother native to Ambala, Haryana, artist Amir Kelly says he still visits his nanaji – his grandfather who moved to the U.S. in 1969 – to practice his Hindi and “hear stories about India.”

Kelly’s latest single “Eden” leans into elements of Nineties R&B and also includes a low pitched tabla portion adding to the beats. The singer mentions that he even used a shankha (conch shell) in the intro, blending it with an organ sound. He explains about using these sonic elements, “Both of these religious symbols hold a special place in my spiritual development. The shankha is a sign of warding away evil, and this song is all about sin and temptation. It’s also used historically as the start of a war commencement. Not only does this represent the war between lust and love, but the battle we see occur between the men and the women in the video.”

“Eden” is a seductive song that introduces Kelly in a sense, considering his only previous original release was “Maui” last year. Kelly’s soulful, honeyed vocals play around and subvert ideas of intimacy and masculinity. He says in a statement, “My body is my garden, and I’m very careful with who I let visit. Tension is at the core of it all. Just like the forbidden fruit, the song is decadent. It’s lust and love. It’s heaven and hell. Raw and polished. Smooth and choppy. It’s my truth.”

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In the video directed by L.A.-based filmmaker Giselle Bonilla – alongside director of photography Tehillah De Castro and creative director Caleb Griffin – we see Kelly at the helm, a central character watching this tension play out. The rest of Kelly’s forthcoming debut self-titled EP employs more Bollywood and Indian classical references sonically and visually. The singer – who cites movies like Asoka, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Devdas as his childhood obsessions – says, “We’ve gotten in the studio with tabla players, flutes, sitars, and more. It’s a fusion of my own, and my story is being told authentically.”

Watch the video for “Eden” below. Stream it here.

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