For Chicago-based artist Nina Ferraro, her understanding of the world around her has always been a key influence in her detailed songwriting. Penning tunes under the moniker of BONZIE, "I never liked using my own name. Maybe this came from internet culture, username culture, I don’t know," her ability to separate her artistic trajectory from the day-to-day life of Ferraro has forged a path built upon experimentation and integrity.
"I think the usage of your own name... contracts, government documents, school work... it’s just anti-everything I want to focus on when it comes to my own project," Ferraro explains. "So, BONZIE is the furthest thing from even an English word that I could think of, beyond like, a letter-less symbol. That was freeing to me!"
The birth, or rebirth if you like, of BONZIE lies with her new album Reincarnation. It's been a whole four years since her last album release but with this return there's a new found extravagence to her work. Her new single "Reincarnation", which we're sharing exclusively on EARMILK today, is the third single released from the album and is inspired by "a feeling of everything flipping over and starting again."
"Maybe it’s also the question of whether change is change at all?" she says. "Or if new is truly new, in this constantly respawning world? But it is a collective, galvanized effort, in any case, to grasp the sense of the newness that comes with change."
Built upon guitar strings and folk undertones, the single is crafted into a track that showcases the lustrous world of BONZIE and her intricately emotive musical output. Elevating her vocals to a sweet high, the track's backdrop floats effortlessly throughout, guiding a narrative of questions laced with intrigue. Paired with its mellow folk intimacies and pop sensibilities, "Reincarnation" merges acoustic sounds with clean-cut production to form a track layered with harmonies and lullaby-licks.
Teaming up with artist Yosuke Tani to create the visuals for the release, BONZIE's fascination with Japanese culture is evidently a key influence within her work. Tani's animation embellishes the track with pops of bright colours and compellingly visualises the emotions of BONZIE's lyrics through adorning each word with flourishes of bold hues. "Yosuke’s art is uniquely his," Ferraro says. "I love artists whose work is so specific to them, and when I saw his animation films, it was really clear to me that this was someone with their own vision.
His characters are hilarious, and they feel like they could almost be real... they almost jump off the screen. In the spirit of “reincarnation,” I feel there’s no one in the world who has his exact sense. Beyond that, he has an amazing knack for color—that’s just a gift—it’s like an inherent instinct. The color combinations he thinks up only adds to the jump-off-the-screen feeling of his animation."
Finding her love for Japanese culture from a young age by studying the language in high school and even more intensely at Fuji School in LA, Ferraro's ever-growing bond with the culture is reflected in her music. Inspired by the likes of early noughties anime, manga and video games, her consumption of Japanese media has contributed to the shaping her artistry. "I really appreciate some of the core cultural values Japan has when it comes to things like art and nature. Some of the ideas are really different from the culture I grew up in, so I appreciate being able to empathize with another perspective or way of thinking."
Taken from her new album of the same name, Reincarnation shares a body of work that reflects the turbulent couple of years we've all experienced. But not only that, there's a sincere personal aspect injected throughout the album that captures something special within our very own hearts. "It’s the only way I can describe what this moment feels like in the world in as few words as possible," Ferraro explains. "It’s also the only description that also feels healing and bright to say aloud! It’s a description of the record, but also an ancient concept that recalls other ancient concepts that reminds us that we’re part of a history that has been reborn many times. I hope that intention comes through."
With each release, BONZIE's artistry grows into something bigger. Navigating her way through each space that appears to entice her in, BONZIE's rejection of being a one-dimentsional artist has left her an innovator in genre fluidity and experimentation. Finding herself currently sat within the pop sphere, she tells us about the genre's versatility that enables her to mold her own trajectory: "Pop tropes locate us and find us where we are, whether we associate with them or not, they are what move and drive the social and cultural climate," she says. "That’s powerful, and I’d like to play with the idea of what “pop” is and what it can be more in the future."
If reincarnation is not only about life and death, but about finding something more within ourselves and living a number of 'existences' within one lifetime, then surely music can aid and vocalise those transitions within ourselves better than most other outlets? "We need music to be reborn!!" Ferraro claims. "More than anything, really! Making the record was incredibly rejuvenating and recalibrating, and the record reflects the refreshment of the ongoing renaissance!"
Reincarnation is out now via Beevine Records. You can listen here in full.