JOJI MALANI’S SOLO PROJECT DEBUT
‘HONEST’ OUT NOW VIA BROTH RECORDS
Pei [pron. pay] – a Fijian word for baby – is a homecoming, a returning to the roots and to the ground from whence Malani came. A founding member of ARIA Award-winning indie-rock five-piece Gang Of Youths, Malani returned to Sydney from London, where he had been based since 2016, following his departure from the group in 2019. After almost a decade of writing in studios and touring the world in the full spectrum of transportation modes, he nestled up inside of the home studio of close friend and longtime collaborator Tim Fitz (Middle Kids) and mix engineered by Antonia Gauci (Kesha, Troye Sivan, DMAS) to help bring Pei to life – tentative at first, prodigious, proliferate later on.
Throughout the Pei project, Malani elucidates his identity as a Fijian-Australian, gracefully weaving contemporary indie, pop and rock influences within memories of Fiji and overtures to Fijian culture. Representing one of Malani’s initial forays into songwriting as a solo venture, it’s fitting that ‘Honest’ should now introduce the wider world to the Pei project; the genesis of all that was to come.
Restless and caught in a near-constant state of tinkering with itself, ‘Honest’ overflows with a creativity that was once dormant but has now grown irrepressible, and hums with the quiet, matured confidence of finding your own place in the world. While the constant is Malani’s vocals, mesmeric in their warmth and direct delivery, and a bucolic combination of plucked guitar, banjo and whistling, grainy percussion and string sections – transforming from swelling ambience to a chugging turbine – inject ceaseless vitality into the mix. Around this backbone, notes of distorted electric guitar, pitched-down vocals and mercurial, warping samples corrode the edges, eating away at ‘Honest’s pastoral centre.
Of his debut Pei single, Malani shares that “It’s hard to be honest about what we’re going through and how much it affects us. It’s not even the big stuff. Losing a job or the end of a relationship can distable us in ways we don’t expect and sometimes we’re too embarrassed to admit it and subdue the feeling. But it manifests itself in other areas of your life and you can turn to things and become unrecognisable to those around you all for the sake of filling that void. I had two friends who were going through hardship but couldn’t be upfront with how it was affecting them. It was painful to watch them struggle and turn to things that you hadn’t seen them do before. We have all been there and this song is about relating to being in that spot and being real with each other. Because that’s a big part of friendship.”
Malani’s Pei music is released through his newly minted record label, Broth Records. With community, independence, discovery and a DIY ethos at its core, Broth Records is dedicated to fostering a new generation of ambitious and diverse bedroom music. Following Sydney four-piece Coconut Cream and Gomeroi singer-songwriter Meteor Infant, Morgues, DutchMustard and AlexRzyan, Pei is the third act to be unveiled from the independent label’s roster, which releases music in conjunction with leading distribution company The Orchard. Stay tuned for more Pei on the horizon.
‘Honest‘ is out now via Broth Records, buy/stream it here.