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Joyful Mind

by Hejira

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London-based band Hejira allow us a second glimpse into their forthcoming new LP Thread Of Gold (22nd February, Lima Limo Records) with newest single ‘Joyful Mind’.

‘Joyful Mind' sits neatly in Hejira’s canon without retreading any of its own steps. As a single, it marks a band not only comfortable and confident in their own expression, but also open-eyed to new influences and inspirations, continuing to craft their sound and offer new surprises with every new release.

The track opens with a field recording of pilgrims celebrating the last point of their journey around northern Ethiopia - taken by the band on location - before gently falling into Hejira’s characteristic bittersweet, leftfield-aligned soul. Centred on captivating vocal hooks and subtly exotic string arrangements, it underpins the band’s love of the otherworldly, the mesmerising, and the unpredictable.

Both single and album describe vocalist, bass guitarist and co-songwriter Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne’s changing relationship with her homeland of Ethiopia after the death of her father. “It’s a reminder that you’re not defined by loss,” Rahel says. “It’s about the positive experiences you have with people that might not be around anymore.” The lyrical refrain “maintain a joyful mind” is based on a series of short Buddhist mantras, explains multi-instrumentalist and producer Sam Beste. The LoJong teachings - 51 in total - act as spiritual reflections for meditation: a perfect foundation for Hejira’s songwriting.

Shortly after her father’s passing, Rahel took the band with her on a pilgrimage to Addis Ababa, looking to reaffirm her own ancestral roots and cultural identity. Together, they subsequently undertook a deeper exploration into the unique, ancient and far-flung lands, peoples and musics of Ethiopia. Through this journey, the band members worked through loss and bereavement, through discovery and new experiences, through a moveable songwriting that took place across many years and many locations. The displacement, write the band, gave deeper meaning to their own identities, and through this search for new energies in their songwriting, has yielded the album Thread of Gold.

Hejira formed in 2010 after Beste, Debebe-Dessalegne and fellow multi-instrumentalist Alex Reeve set up their home studio in South East London. The line-up expands to include additional musicians both in the studio and onstage, not hired hands but musical ‘cousins’ to the ‘siblings’ of the core members. Years of performing together in jazz and big-band ensembles, and alongside such huge profiles as Amy Winehouse, Nitin Sawhney, Floating Points and Eric Lau has informed an instinctual and mutually inspiring compositional relationship within the band.

In 2017, following the release of their acclaimed 2013 debut LP Prayer Before Birth on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records, and EPs on Accidental and Floating Points’ Eglo Records, the band set up their own Lima Limo Records. The label - named after a winding mountain path in northern Ethiopia - has become a home not only for their own releases, but also for like-minded creative souls releasing music just as strange and wonderful as Hejira’s.

lyrics

Lyrics

It's only for a moment 
Then it's gone in a flash 
The best things they don't last 
They come and then they go so fast 

All the make believe and wonder
The stories that your father told
Dreaming in fool's paradise
Too bitter too sweet with a future 
Waiting to unfold

There was a time when you couldn’t tell 
It was all in the name of love
Oh how do we know 
What to take or leave
With each day a new way 
To see the world 
Growing with wisdom
Like the blossomed oak
Facing to the sun

Maintain a joyful mind 

Oh, the fear of time
Now you can hardly remember 
The moves that you danced in your prime 
But what will it take 
To remind yourself 
Forgive a little lie
Only then can you make up 
For all the lost time

I’ve got to know
Why did we decide to dig for gold 
When did we stop to grow so old 
And the world is changing  
But we remain 
All in our heads
Got to build a fortress 
To feel again 
A place for hope and wonder to reign 
For the dream to live 
To come to life 
Once again 

Maintain a joyful mind 

credits

released January 30, 2019

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Hejira UK

Hejira formed in 2010 setting up their studio 'The House of Dreams' in South-East London. In 2013 they released debut album 'Prayer Before Birth' on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records to critical acclaim. Their second album 'Thread of Gold' is out now ... more

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