Alt. pop singer-songwriter Sukhmani explores the complexities of belonging and identity in her poetic single, “Not Your Exotic,” out November 19th. This single follows the artist’s most recent release, “Divination,” and peels back to an even deeper layer of her already enticing artistic identity. The mix beautifully showcases Sukhmani’s rhythmic brilliance – in addition to her angelic vocals – with a masterfully layered, textured percussion line. Her hypnotic background vocals caress the melody in a silky blanket of colourful harmony and offer a captivating depth to the rich soundscape.
This project is an important moment for the artist in which she speaks out on her experience as a woman of colour navigating how to exist authentically between cultures. It warmly offers an opportunity to celebrate every facet that makes each of us unique and inherently connects us. “A common cultural practice I grew up with was welcoming guests to our home on auspicious occasions by spilling mustard oil at either side of the door,” says Sukhmani, “I want to invite listeners into the song as guests and family, always willing to meet each other openly, and celebrate together as one.”
Sukhmani appeals to listeners in the verse, “Girl, recognize me as my own, honour the way I’m kissed by the sun // tell me your stories and take mine on // no, oh there is no other.” At its core, this track implores listeners to honour diversity while acknowledging our inherent oneness. Sukhmani hopes that “listeners can see the song as the invitation for togetherness and inclusivity that it is,” calling us to take a look inward and reflect on our own misperceptions.
Sukhmani was born with a rhythm that is undeniable. Listeners feel the heartbeat of her music before realizing it is pulsing through their body. As one of the first female tabla players to emerge from the U.K., she has toured and recorded as a percussionist for years, playing on stage at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
Sukhmani was born into a Punjabi immigrant family in the United Kingdom and grew up in Leeds where she was surrounded by the sounds of her Punjabi Sikh family, the Afro Caribbean community, and the city’s thriving music scene. She now brings her rare understanding of rhythm and percussion to her own music, delivering sultry vocals over deep, driving beats.
Sukhmani has accompanied artists such as Ajeet and Snatam Kaur on tour as a percussionist, where she “brings deep beauty, passion, and artistry to her playing.” In her transition to singing and songwriting, Sukhmani’s music connects with and empowers listeners to be fully and unapologetically themselves.