Violinist-composer and vocalist Rini and her band with hip-hop artist JSWISS. Photo: Leibman Productions
Out in New York City, violinist, vocalist and producer Harini S. Raghavan aka Rini was in the midst of the raging coronavirus pandemic about a year ago. Amidst the bleakness and uncertainty, the Chennai-born artist says she wanted to “give a bright take on the countdown of our lives.” It’s led to the creation of her spirited, soulful new song “The Countdown,” featuring rapper JSWISS aka Julian Caldwell.
Released as part of her Blue Carpet Sessions – there’s a different set of songs compiled into her most recent album, Blue Carpet Sessions, Vol. I – “The Countdown” packs in Rini’s Carnatic vocal and violin chops, JSWISS’ indefatigable flow about the relativity and fluidity of time over seriously dexterous jazz-fusion from guitarist Aleif Hamdan, drummer Maxime Cholley (who also co-composed the track) and bassist Sharon Renold.
The video – snazzed up with VFX to perhaps convey more positivity – was meant to be filmed in March last year until quarantine orders changed plans. Rini says, “So we had to postpone and wait until we could find a safe way to record it. The message of the song resonates with what is going on now and musically it has sections that are spacey and others that are busy that act as a metaphor of our perception of time.”
For JSWISS, it wasn’t just the fact that Rini was a past collaborator which led him to come in on “The Countdown.” He calls his work with Rini as one of the most exciting and unique ongoing collaborations” of his career, one that’s just further strengthened by this track. He says, “The concept of time is interesting because it moves at the same speed for everyone, but our perspective on it is constantly changing and it’s completely out of our control, which can all be empowering and scary at the same time. So when Rini told me the song was about the passage of time, I wanted to capture all of the emotions behind that in my lyrics.”
Rini, a graduate from Berklee College of music in Boston, started off with her 2016 EP Kural and has gone on to release four more records, including Alone In the Blue EP in 2016, Maya in 2017 and Echoes of the Ghats in 2020, arriving at a powerful contemporary Carnatic/electronic fusion sound.
Watch the video for “The Countdown” below.