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Zarir Warden Wonders ‘What’s Going On’ With Debut Solo Release

The frontman of Mumbai rock band ONEmpire has two more tracks in the works, as part of an album project

Anurag Tagat Sep 11, 2020

Mumbai vocalist and composer Zarir Warden in a still from his debut release 'What's Going On'

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Part of one of the most sought-after covers band in the country, Mumbai pop act ONEmpire’s frontman Zarir Warden says they’ve always been lucky enough to make it their career, even as they ventured into writing and releasing original material, including 2017’s “Shine A Light.

Over the course of the last two years or so, Warden says he’s often mused about trying to write his own material and now he’s got “What’s Going On,” an emphatic plea for humanity that deals with inner and outer turmoil. He says about launching Warden, his solo project, “With me, I’ve got to really get into something that I’m doing or I just can’t do it at all. The time was right for this.”

Produced by Toronto-based Benjamin Pelchat (who also worked with ONEmpire on “Shine A Light”), “What’s Going On” brings together all the key ingredients to an emotive yet hummable pop tune, but Warden says there was more to it. “I wanted touches of gospel elements to be a part of it. So every song on the album, for example, has a Hammond playing or church organ playing,” he says, mentioning Toronto-based R&B singer Denver Haylee serves as backup vocalist on this track as well as two more upcoming singles called “Fire” and “What If.”

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He says about working remotely with Pelchat, “I wanted production to be good but I didn’t want too many samples and electronic elements and I wanted it to be as organic but as edgy as possible.”

As much as there’s references to the state of the world, Warden says he wrote “What’s Going On” also to deal with personal struggles. At the same time, he recounts a time when he received particularly bad news during the pandemic and didn’t want to come across as alarmist. “So it’s not meant to be ‘Oh my god, the world is ending!’ It’s meant to be, ‘What the hell is happening?’ Let’s just kind of come together and figure stuff out.”

Watch the video for “What’s Going On” below. Stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

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