HIRA’s previous musical offerings have toyed with multiple genres, and his ability to not only challenge stylistic categories, but production techniques too, exhibits him as a valued member of the Paul Institute. The collective of musicians spearheaded by enigmatic brotherly duo A.K. and Jai Paul continue to stretch the boundaries of popular music.
Immersing himself amongst his Paul Institute peers, British-Indian artist HIRA takes in snippets of influences from his immediate surroundings, twisting them to create something that’s universally relatable. “Being surrounded by such a variety of talented artists, we’re so different from each other but there’s some unspoken value that we share,” explains HIRA. “It’s nice to have a home like that as an artist. That whole thing about surrounding yourself with people that are better than you, that’s how it feels for me.”
Speaking on how his influences affect his output, he says, “I’m always somewhere in between feeling a sort of duty to keep the styles that paved my way alive, while imagining what the future could be.” In a concoction of stripped-back noughties R&B and hyper-produced ’80s pop, the HIRA machine has gracefully absorbed his influences, whisked them together and fed them back, presenting us with the blueprint for pop music’s future. It’s both tinged with a sense of the Paul brothers, whilst undercut with an introspective flavour that is uniquely HIRA.
In turn, “Reminisce” displays HIRA as a talented musician with a penchant for creating cultural collages that play with structure and musical form. Starting off in full production before thinning out into something more delicate, his mixture of bright vocals, joyful princely guitar and atmospheric synths are carefully manipulated to boldy depict the continuously altering state of memory. “I wanted to capture the way in which we can look back on a moment in time with different ’emotional’ lenses, even though it only ever went down one way,” says HIRA. “Sometimes a memory can be frustrating to think about, another time you can look back with longing or something. I guess the production kind of mirrors that, where it starts off pretty hard and angsty… but towards the end it all softens out, hopefully capturing that shift in persepective over time.”
“I took it as an opportunity to explore different grooves and sonic scapes from my other stuff. Lyrically, I’d say it’s less of a narrative journey and more of a single moment kind of feeling that I was trying to capture.”
HIRA often blurs the lines between visual and audio artistry (as a visual artist he’s contributed artwork to Jorja Smith’s Be Right Back EP). “I’m not sure if the connection between music and film is always a conscious thing, things just tend to linger around and surface in whatever way,” he explains. “It’s just the way things seem to appear when I’m writing a tune. The ultimate dream would be for the tables to turn and have one of my tunes in a film, I hope that happens some day!”
“Reminisce” is a puzzle that provides a sun-soaked backdrop for summer, while also taking us into the space of questioning consciousness, summing up the precarious emotional and physical space of being in your twenties.