Mysteries That Need Songs: BONZIE’s “Reincarnation” Explores Uncertain Future
Written by Vocalo Radio on July 26, 2021
With melodic soundscapes and crystal-clear vocals, Chicago-based singer BONZIE’s latest album Reincarnation attempts to make sense of the uncertain future we’re all facing as a result of the pandemic. “Up To U,” a track pulled from Reincarnation, was selected by Vocalo for our June 2021 In Rotation playlist.
“I think it became less precious. I was like, ‘I’m making an album. This is not life or death.’ There was a certain amount of freedom, ironically, that came from being quarantined.”BONZIE
“Reincarnation, to me, is both a connection to the past but also moving towards a future that’s different aesthetically or on the surface while the core is still the same,” BONZIE said. “For me, I’m always writing for the moment I’m in right now and I feel like now is such a specific time and process everyone’s moving through together.”
Nina Ferraro, who records as BONZIE, began working on Reincarnation in 2018, taking her time to independently write all 13 tracks. When the pandemic hit the U.S. in early 2020, the 26-year-old moved back to Chicago and finished the album in her home studio with the help of producers DJ Camper and Yeti Beats. Reincarnation was released in March 2021.
As BONZIE’s priorities shifted towards keeping herself and others safe from the coronavirus, the way she viewed her album changed too.
“I think it became less precious,” BONZIE said. “I was like, ‘I’m making an album. This is not life or death.’ There was a certain amount of freedom, ironically, that came from being quarantined.”
BONZIE said she’s always created art to better understand ideas and relationships that interest her. The way humans experience time — from the feeling 2020 lasted longer than a year to the acknowledgment of a new future changed by the pandemic — was one recurring concept she worked to come to terms with on Reincarnation.
“Time is always something I’m writing about and thinking about and frustrated with,” BONZIE said. “It’s these sorts of mysteries that need songs.”
Before she was using music to wrap her head around a world-altering global pandemic, BONZIE got her start writing songs to figure out elementary school. Ferraro taught herself to play guitar at 10 and started performing in coffee shops when she was 12, later releasing small projects under her own name as a teenager.
“Music has always been a way for me to process things,” BONZIE said. “It just grew and grew from there.”
Ferraro’s stage name, BONZIE, a word that has no meaning, came with her first studio album Rift into the Secret of Things, which she released in 2013 when she was 17. She said the letters are a subconscious combination of nicknames she used to sign her drawings with.
While she was in high school, BONZIE and her family moved to Chicago where she started mingling with local musicians and playing live shows at Schubas Tavern, Beat Kitchen and The Hideout.
BONZIE said her music has been heavily influenced by the city’s experimental post-rock and jazz scene. She’s especially inspired by the band Tortoise, which formed in 1990, and prolific Chicago producer Steve Albini, who she counts as a collaborator. More recently, she’s been listening to Saba, a rapper from Chicago’s West Side.
“There’s this feeling in Chicago where we need music because it’s what we love,” BONZIE said. “I don’t think there’s another place like Chicago anywhere. It has such a strong vibe and that definitely influenced me musically because I end up writing music that sounds good with wherever I am.”
With three albums under her belt, the 26-year-old says music is still the best way to express herself.
“My music is just more of genuinely who I am than any other way I can possibly express that,” BONZIE said. “My hope is that other people can live vicariously through my thoughts and the musical decisions I made during production and insert their own problems and go on that ride with me.”
Written By Kayleigh Padar
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