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Ground Control Touring Welcomes Rahill

Ground Control Touring Welcomes Rahill

Posted 06/28/2023

Rahill Jamalifard is a multidisciplinary artist and musician hailing from Lansing, Michigan and presently based in upstate New York’s idyllic Hudson Valley. As a founding member of Brooklyn garage-rock mainstays, Habibi, Rahill garnered a reputation for alchemizing an eclectic range of influences, distilling them into captivating and heavy pop songs that gestured towards the modes and melodies of the Iranian/American household in which she was raised—a heritage she has continued to nurture via successive trips to Iran. This affinity for Iranian culture and music is increasingly present in her emergent solo output. Indeed, maps of her familial home cities, Shiraz and Isfahan, grace the insert of her upcoming debut solo LP, Flowers At Your Feet. The record arrives fresh off the heels of 2022’s Sun Songs, a collection of covers (more-so reinterpretations, really) of standards from an eclectic and personal pantheon of cherished songwriters. Sun Songs plays something like a statement of intent—documenting a diverse range of influences, some of which date back to Rahill’s years-long stint working at Academy Records in Brooklyn; Flowers At Your Feet, out 12th May on Big Dada. documents Rahill’s complete efflorescence as a singer/songwriter, while retaining the maturity, humility, and intimacy that suffused Sun Songs.

The album’s title intimates the deeply personal and often contemplative mode that these songs inhabit. Far from recounting the sturm und drang of heartsickness or frenzied new love (your standard singer/songwriter fare), Flowers At Your Feet finds Rahill tending, almost diaristically, to memory — reflecting on childhood and family, sifting through time, ultimately arriving at a state of quiet grace and self love.

Peppered throughout Flowers At Your Feet are artifacts lovingly culled from Rahill’s private cosmogony: field recordings, audio from home movies, references to film and poetry, allusions to sports legends. Lead single, “I Smile for E,” a paean to family and memory, features a recording of a beloved late aunt singing “In honor of you” in Farsi. Presented without overt explanation, these sonic novelties are nevertheless intuitively, universally familiar, prompting the listener to construct their very own memory palace.

This philosophy, this care for the past, for family and heritage, is distilled in the record’s art: a hazy photograph of an infant Rahill, damp hair precociously done-up in a wrapped towel, wearing a gold necklace. Regarding this necklace’s significance, Rahill states: “Passed down charms have such powerful meaning and sentimentality. Preserving stories and embodying generations of love. My grandma gifted me that necklace on my first trip to Iran when I was a year old. She’s someone who’s been ever present in life, and since her passing last year the value and appreciation of the charms have only deepened.”

Recorded in phases during the Covid pandemic, Flowers At Your Feet constitutes a close collaboration between Rahill and producer, Alex Epton (FKA Twigs, Arca). Two kindred and eclectic spirits, Rahill and Epton bonded over a shared appreciation for the likes of Stereolab, Curtis Mayfield, and Kool Keith. Epton, for his part, immediately identified the strength and potential of Rahill’s pre-existing solo compositions, some of which (including the lilting standout “From a Sandbox”) she’d written years prior. Still other songs were conceived spontaneously during the recording— “Bended Light,” a woozy cascade of rhyme and flow coiled around Jasper Marsalis’s (Slauson Malone) jazz chords, began as a vocal melody Rahill sent to Eptonvia voice note during a brief sojourn in Michigan. But regardless of their origin, these songs clearly live together: born of this present season in which Rahill has found herself.

This season might best be summarized as one of self-acceptance. Laid back and dubby, Flowers’ third track, “Tell Me,” includes a plain-spoken declaration of contentment, flipping the melancholy of Nico’s famous “These Days” rendition on its head, landing somewhere surprisingly triumphant: “I stay / keep it in my zone these days / sun coming out sometime / but I’d rather be alone these days / And though / no one’s trying to bother me / I keep a ball around /and I watch some mob movies.” Likewise, “Note to Self,” nodding infectiously to 90’s big beat EDM, documents Rahill’s lived experiences in her years pursuing romance and art, synthesizing that wisdom and pushing forward.

Among the extensive list of talented players who have contributed their time and talent to Flowers At Your Feet, “Fables,” features vocals and production credits from no less than art-pop revolutionary, Beck. Their friendship and creative collaboration—the consequence of a chance meeting at a mutual friend’s show (“kismet” in Rahill’s own words) and an extended period of correspondence—should, alone, intrigue the uninitiated. And “Fables” itself, complete with an ebullient, elastic bassline, functions as a pure marriage of sensibilities, an aesthetic alliance that proves Rahill is as versatile and ambitious as the company she keeps.

For Rahill initiates, as well as fans from the Habibi days, there is a vast world of multi-disciplinary art and ephemera here to explore. Ever the autodidact, Rahill works across mediums with singular ease and earnestness. Her visual art (including a recent collection of so-called “primitive” crayon portraits, I’m This I’m That I’m in the World) has been exhibited internationally. Her keen aesthetic eye has led her to collaborations in the world of fashion, most notably a live performance of songs from Flowers At Your Feet and “Haenim” (a track from SunSongs) in Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s SS23 New York Fashion Week show. All of which is merely to say, Rahill has been toiling ceaselessly, not in pursuit of fame, but authentic self-expression and community. With Flowers At Your Feet, she is prepared to share the fruits of her labor.

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