Reincarnation out now: https://ffm.to/reincarnation
Since first arriving on the musical landscape, BONZIE has endlessly found new forms of expressing her vast imagination. A Chicago-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, she’s explored everything from post-rock to folk to fantastically surrealist pop, executing each with extraordinary grace. Over the years, she’s also drawn acclaim for her captivating live show (“Delicacy and drama, surrender and anger, made a riveting combination when BONZIE performed,” wrote New York Times chief popular music critic Jon Pareles following an especially magnetic SXSW set). On her third album Reincarnation, BONZIE again redefines the limits of her musicality, ultimately creating a listening experience not unlike lucid dreaming: immersive and infinitely spellbinding, yet touched with a transformative clarity.
The follow-up to her 2017 sophomore effort Zone on Nine, Reincarnation was co-produced by BONZIE alongside Darhyl “DJ” Camper, a musician known for his production work with R&B and hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, Big Sean, John Legend, and Teyana Taylor. In a departure from her past output, the album alchemizes elements of electro-pop and art-rock and even gospel music, unfolding in potent rhythms and shapeshifting textures. Also featuring production work from Yeti Beats (Doja Cat), Reincarnation unveils a kinetic new sound already hailed as “The Weeknd meets Evanescence.”
A fearlessly singular body of work, Reincarnation serves as an exquisite showcase for BONZIE’s newly emboldened songwriting. To that end, the title to Reincarnation refers to the radical sense of possibility she’s espoused in reflecting on the current state of the world. “I feel that there’s room in the world for rebirth—that it’s possible for certain things to go away after this moment in time, and for something different and new to come back in its place,” says Nina Ferraro, who’s created under the moniker of BONZIE since age 17. “It could be like the shedding of skin off a snake.”
Throughout Reincarnation, BONZIE sets her self-reflection to a stormy but luminous sonic backdrop, a fitting counterpart to her chameleonic vocals. On the lead single “alone,” for instance, her voice soars and warps in its channeling of pensive isolation, blending beautifully with the track’s fingerpicked guitar tones. The meandering dreamscape that is “alone” has already been praised by NPR as a pick in Bob Boilen’s All Songs Considered, and was deemed as one of the “Best Songs of 2020” by The New York Times.
On “Lethal,” BONZIE summons a sweet radiance in the song’s crystalline horns and lilting string work, then twists the mood with her penetrating refrain (“Either you want to die or you don’t want to die”). And with its elegant collision of so many mesmerizing details—trembling rhythms and glistening synth, a stunning mid-song shift in tempo, Camper’s cascading background vocals—“Slated” perfectly echoes the tender confusion within its lyrics.
Elsewhere on Reincarnation, BONZIE embodies everything from gloriously defiant hope (on the album’s effervescent title track) to wild-eyed romanticism (on the opulent and epic “Heavy Rain”). In shaping that brilliantly wayward sound, BONZIE took a deliberately fluid approach to every aspect of the album-making process. “We never did any pre-production or strategized what we wanted to do with the songs,” says Ferraro of her collaboration with Camper. “We just jammed together and recorded as we went along, and it all happened so naturally. We’d create the production and it would feel like flying—like we’d just discovered how to fly.”
A decidedly self-possessed artist, Ferraro first uncovered her restless creativity after teaching herself to play guitar at age 9. She soon wrote her first song, and at age 12 began taking her music to the stage, quickly becoming a fixture in Chicago’s club circuit. After making her debut with Rift into the Secret of Things—a 2013 album that led Vogue to laud her “talent for moving seamlessly between gentle folk-inspired verses and edgier rock-n-roll riffs” and inspired SPIN to praise her as “a young Chan Marshall”—she went on to share stages with alt-rock icons like Blonde Redhead and Iron and Wine, and recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Joanna Newsom, PJ Harvey) on a double single released in 2016. Next, BONZIE co-produced alongside esteemed musician Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Conor Oberst) in the making of Zone on Nine, an album featuring musical contributions from Adrian Utley of Portishead and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes.
For BONZIE, the daring originality of Reincarnation is the natural outcome of a lifelong refusal to tread familiar artistic ground. “I don’t think you ever really learn or grow by staying in the same space,” says Ferraro. And with the release of Reincarnation, she hopes to ignite a similar sense of adventurousness in her listeners. “I’d love for people to feel what I felt in making the record, which was a deep curiosity and an ability to see everything from a new perspective,” Ferraro says. “Hopefully that’s where all of humanity is headed now: to a place of being willing to throw away everything you’ve learned, and look at the world with completely fresh eyes.”
Music and Lyrics by BONZIE
Produced by DJ Camper and BONZIE, except track 5 produced by Yeti Beats and BONZIE.
Guitars, piano, vocals by BONZIE
Backing vocals by DJ Camper
Engineered by Morning Estrada, Will Golden, Neil Strauch and BONZIE.
Recorded in the Himalayas. Mixed by NealHPogue for 411 E. 9th Ave. Mastered by Mike Bozzi at Bernie Grundman Mastering