Following the lionised 2017 electronica album ‘They Dance in the Dark’ and last year’s celestial album ‘The Happening’, (in response to Covid 19) Producer, Percussionist and Composer RENU returns on May 15th with her latest single ‘Stutter Step’. Originally a filmic rework of an original composition that won the international EXP___ contest in October 2020 — commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Chicago and Institut Français Midwest. RENUs original Intention was to create a Hip Hop track, this then morphed into a Glitch Hop cinematic instrumental track. Later she collaborated with French-Malian rapper & singer/artist Astan K for the B‑side.
RENU who is currently based in Berlin heard first heard the term “Stutter Step” on the US millennial TV series “Girls”. She subsequently found out that “Stutter Step” is a term used in basketball. RENU subconsciously looked towards America for inspiration for this track. “Stutter Step” was also influenced by the BLM movement and the killings in America last year, in a similar vein to other projects of 2020 such as the eponymous “You Do Better” featuring Tamika D. Mallory and “I Can’t Breathe” by RnA who like RENU also have some links with the former UK Asian Underground movement.
The current awareness around the topic of Anti-Blackness in the Asian community also shaped some of RENUs current output. She is aware of making art without cutting/pasting and appropriating black popular culture. For her, art/music are memories of music which are then ‘re-photographed’.
‘Stutter Step’ is the first in a series of singles, experimental music films and live music films which are all planned to be released in 2021.
Further releases include RENU‘s experimental rendition of a Baul song from a Lalon Fakir disciple from Bangladesh. The music will conjure images of a Baul speaking to us from the future. RENU acknowledges that people will either love or hate this rendition, as some Baul/Fakir purists will not enjoy the experimental endeavour.
A third release, unnamed as of now, features a singer who is based in Andalucia and is Roma & Syrian by birth. This piece, originally an instrumental created for a big choreographed production at Hebbel Am Ufer, in Berlin in 2021 and titled “LIU”, the release will be an experimental film and reworked with added vocals.
‘Rani Gumpha’ which was part of an exhibition ‘A slightly curving place’ was commissioned by Haus Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin in summer of 2020 is an Indian classically inspired sound design which was part of an ambisonic exhibition on the Rani Gumpha caves in India. RENU was commissioned to create the sound design for a sound/lighting bath and it was composed with Indian classical violinist Madhuri Chattopadhyay and featured narration from Bani Abidi (experimental visual artist from Pakistan, based in Berlin). The narration excerpt was taken from the book — ‘Dancing Odissi’ (Paratopic Performances of Gender and State) by writer Anurima Banerji.
Thematically this track is tied to how contemporary India looks to the past and how this past is a construct and one that is very different from contemporary India.
2021 brings further releases of film & music, including a live percussion performance using samples from Jeanne Lee‘s iconic album — ‘Conspiracy’.
Also in 2021, RENU will deliver her next major album. The album will thematically and musically discuss space, cosmogony, cosmology and the yearning for an unknown past. RENU will also examine what is known as old classical forms/music/art practices (Indian classical, flamenco) and place them in a contemporary setting/production.
For this album RENU has taken inspiration from Alice Coltrane - specifically the spirituality and very open faith of Coltrane’s earlier albums. RENU explores faith with an expansive tone, electronica that is experimental with classical leanings & live percussion treated with effects and live looping with Ableton — marrying electronic experimental music with pure instruments, a process that started with ‘They Dance in the Dark’ but this time in a group context as opposed to a solo one. The group will include musicians from Andalucia & India. What is interesting is that this perspective & treatment of the music will be minus the colonial gaze.
“I’m not a producer looking out saying how can I use this, I’m looking to what I use already. Everyone is hurting and fighting, and I want to get back to basics, spread some love without brushing things under the carpet – that’s the only way I can secure my well being.” — RENU
Stutter Step releases on 15th May 2021. Visit www.renumusic.me for more info.
DJ Isuru is a music journalist and broadcaster on SOAS Radio. He also runs the Mishti Dance event series featuring the best in Asian Underground, the next party will be on August 21st at Poplar Union.