For many, watering dead plants is part of their daily routine, even if the leaves have been visibly dehydrated to a crisp for months. For independent music artist and UNC alumna Faith Jones, the same issue often applies to her personal relationships.
This idea of over-nurturing dying relationships inspired Jones and artists Vybhav Jagannath and Ky Russell – better known as VJDAMUSICMAN and iamkyami, respectively – to create and produce a new collaborative single, “Dead Plants,” set to release on March 12.
Jones said she and Jagannath have known each other and collaborated musically since high school. It wasn’t until the two wanted a third opinion on their first draft of “Dead Plants” that Jagannath reached out to iamkyami, who is currently based in the U.K.
When it comes to collaborations, Jones said Jagannath is king.
“He's really great at reaching out to people for collaborations,” Jones said. “Before working on this project, I still felt kind of green in my approach to songwriting, and it was very hard for me to be honest about friendships or relationships. But VJ really encouraged that with the song, and it put me in this place where I'm like, 'OK, I guess I’ll just be honest about it.'”
The three artists contributed their individual feelings and styles to the song, using group messages to push each other to be vulnerable while creating the mixed-genre track entirely virtually.
Despite their inability to be physically together or work in a studio, Jones feels the virtual recording and production process has been a rewarding experience, especially working with iamkyami, who Jones said made the track what it is today.
“It's been a really motivating thing to be able to have this experience now in quarantine,” Jones said. “It was nice to record my raw vocals in the comfort of my room. If I did something I didn’t like, I’d go back and do it again. I’m all about building autonomy – especially as a woman in music – I feel like it's very easy to be pushed around by men. So it’s been good to record on my own.”
Meanwhile, as a self-producing artist, iamkyami did not see much of a change in this new recording routine.
“Since I've been in the U.K., most of my songwriting and producing experience has not been in-studio,” iamkyami said. “I guess the major difference was that I was kind of just doing it by myself without having other people there or getting the opinions of other people.”
Because Jones and iamkyami both have unique skill sets and perspectives to offer, Jagannath said his decision to reach out to them for this track was completely artistically intentional.
All three musicians have their own projects in store. Jagannath released a single in February and plans to release his second album, "Kinks & Trauma," later this year, on which “Dead Plants” will be featured. iamkyami released her EP, "Life of Ky," in 2020, and Jones will be releasing her first self-produced EP in the fall.
Jagannath said his most recent music fits into a wide variety of genres, but Indian classical music was the foundation of his musical career.
“Until high school, I was set on pursuing Indian classical music,” Jagannath said. “But when I joined middle school and high school choir and a cappella, I saw how much potential there is for crossover and fusion. The techniques that are so built into English music today actually tended to come more natural to me because of all the complexities involved in Indian music.”
Jagannath is passionate about his culture and believes it has had a strong, positive effect on the music he creates.
“I am Indian American,” Jagannath said. “Growing up here and watching artists in the American music industry, I always hoped and dreamed for more representation for myself. I want to try to be that for other people in my position. I want people to listen to this music and say, ‘Look at that, there's an American guy out here singing songs just like everyone else. And his culture isn't an impediment. It's actually something that's helping him to be individual and unique.’”
Jones thinks many people will relate to her new song because they can resonate with the struggle of finding balance in a relationship.
“With all this time in quarantine, I feel like these draining interactions with people is something I’ve thought about a lot personally,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to make other people happy, and sometimes, it’s at my own detriment. And I think this song really reflects that.”
To pre-save "Dead Plants," visit the three artists' Feature.fm
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.