Pei [pron. pay], the solo project of former Gang Of Youths, Joji Malani, today announces his debut album Pei’s Pageant, out this October 10th via Broth Records and mastered by Grammy-nominated Ryan Schwabe (Pussy Riot, Shamir, Golden Vessel & more). With the release arrives ‘Themesong’,” listen here.
Where his debut solo single, ‘Honest,’ showcased Pei‘s detailed instrumental world (and drummed up fans at Rolling Stone, NME, and MTV [in Australia], and more), ‘Themesong’ adds a dynamic multi-layered sheen to his craft, building soft flourishes into a fury of orchestral splendor. Here guitars wash away to driving drums crossing with cascading fills; nimble trumpets, tubas, glockenspiels and soulful horns ride melodic highs, violin strings cascade with banjos and mandolins drifting into a collage of vaporous vocal samples flying left and right. ‘Themesong’ is a journey headfirst into Pei.
Speaking to ‘Themesong’, Joji shares “I literally woke up one day with the melody. I wouldn’t say I dreamt about it, but I woke up and was like, ‘Fuck, I can’t get this melody out of my head.’ It sounded like the M*A*S*H theme song. At the time, a friend I had made, who was best friends with the Mumford & Sons guys, wanted to start a football podcast with me. He’d been talking to me about it and I just thought, ‘Why don’t I write a theme song for this podcast?’ Obviously, that podcast never happened, I moved back here and I still never told him that I tried to write a theme song for it. Plus the banjo I bought from Fleetwood Mac! It was made for Lindsey Buckingham but then given to Neil Finn who I then bought it from.”
The artwork for ‘Themesong’ is inspired by an unexpected combination of both Robbie Williams and the Fijian 7 dollar bill, which features the Olympic gold medalist Rugby sevens team. Pei explains that “Robbie Williams was massive when I first moved to Australia. He was everywhere. I remember seeing the ‘Sing When You’re Winning’ poster at a local music retailer and for some reason that cover art has always stuck in my head. This song kind of encompasses a lot of what the Pei project will be. And for some reason, alluding to that Robbie cover art with a nod to the Fijian $7 note just felt right”
Pei – a Fijian word for baby – is a homecoming. In relocating from London to Sydney, where he had been based since 2016, Joji nestled up inside the home studio of close friend and longtime collaborator Tim Fitz (Middle Kids) after almost a decade of writing in studios and touring the world. Threading contemporary indie, pop and rock influences with the memories and influences of his Fijian culture with natural ease, Pei’s Pageant exerts Joji’s creative being through his Fijian identity – one that many have yet to meet. Produced alongside Fitz, the album features backing vocals from Hannah Joy (Middle Kids) arrangements from Macie Stewart (Whitney, Ohmme, SZA, Chance the Rapper), and mix engineered by Antonia Gauci (Daine, Troye Sivan, Kesha) among others.
Due this October 10 via Broth Records – home to recent impressive debuts from Coconut Cream, Meteor Infant, Morgues, Dutch Mustard, Alex Rzyan and more – Pei’s Pageant freely explores a variety of sonic influences from bright, rich production; orchestration that can swing between the exuberant and borderline ambient and country balladry and at the core, there is Pei’s vocals – heartfelt, direct and confident. More than just a passion project turned big with his band The Pageant in tow, Pei steadies for his world debut.