For a song to be truly appealing, it must evoke a sentiment or emotion. This could range from happiness to rage, romance to revenge, and sympathy to nostalgia. The last of these feelings is particularly popular as it transports the listener to a favoured time in the past. With this in mind, alternative hip-hop group, GEN64 from Toronto, Canada, based their branding on nostalgic elements and retro aesthetics, making them the foundation of their unique approach to music. Members of the band include Producer DEYS (Syed Hussain), Lush Lightyear (Shivam Singh) and Mani (Osman Yusuf) – both of whom are vocalists and songwriters. Their latest hip-hop number Comme Des Garcons, released on July 9, is a true exponent of this nostalgic vibe and the global outlook they are known for. This track – their first with Surrey-based label Snakes x Ladders – was inspired by a pair of shoes from the iconic Japanese brand of the same name, which one of them happened to be wearing one day. Mani explains that the simplest of things can sometimes lead to a flow of creativity. He shares, “we immediately came up with melodies and flows. Lush and I started writing while DEYS mapped the beat and added touches to compliment the flows. We recorded the song and I mixed it all in a few hours.” The result was an upbeat sound, reminiscent of warm summer days, quiet holiday romances and a beloved pair of ‘Comme Des Garcons’ shoes.
The group prides itself on producing, writing, mixing, and mastering their own music, which allows them to experiment across genres yet maintain their signature sound. ‘64’ in their name is an ode to popular video game console of yore, Nintendo 64 – a childhood memory that ties the trio together. The three first met in high school and began collaborating under the moniker ‘Childhood’, generating buzz around their fresh and genuine content. A decade later, the group has evolved to its present avatar. “We hope to establish ourselves as innovators in the music industry, especially among the South Asian diaspora across the globe,” says Mani. GEN64 is known for blending sounds from hip-hop, R, alternative, electronic, afrobeat and other genres, taking inspiration from the likes of Childish Gambino, Young Thug, 070 Shake, Majid Jordan, BROCKHAMPTON, and others.
Describing their latest offering, Comme Des Garcons, as the epitome of their approach to music and the creative process, DEYS shares, “we just like to have a good time and make good music – there’s not much more to it. I think the more fun we’re having, the higher the quality of our content is. We know we’re skilled and each of us brings something unique to the table, and we’ve been doing this together for so long, and in such an organic manner, that whatever we make fits into our overarching sound.”
Their collaborative process and single-minded vision enabled them to complete the initial version of this song in a single day, right from production of the beat to breakdowns in between, including the song writing and the initial mix. It then took a few weeks of listening and fine tuning the mix to get its final version ready.When asked about the process of making the song, Lush responds, “it wasn’t too different from our previous songs. If we can lock in to the vibe of what we’re making and create the whole song in a day, that’s generally when we make our best music. Typically it’s a 5-6 hour studio session that’ll allow us to make a song, and then in the weeks following we can perfect certain things. As long as the song idea and the important parts are laid down in that first session, we’re good to go!”
As with most independent artists, the members of GEN64 find it challenging to continually get exposure. They feel that in order to stay relevant and appreciated in the long run, it is necessary to keep making good music andspreading it far and wide. To this end, increasing their exposure in India has become an important goal, especially because of their common South Asian heritage. “We don’t have a wide audience in India at the moment and feel like the market would be really receptive to our music. We’re definitely hoping this song can be the catalyst for that,” explains Lush.After the release of Comme Des Garcons, GEN64 is working on its next track – a summer anthem with an afrobeat vibe. If the appreciation they have received for Comme Des Garcons is anything to go by, the next track seems one to watch for. Comme Des Garcons by GEN64 can be streamed on all major platforms.