From the debut album “Startisha,” out 12 June via 37d03d.
Directed by Scott J. Ross and Naeem
Cinematographer/Editor/VFX: Scott J. Ross
Production Company: SWARD Productions
Remote Producer: Stephanie Ward
Remote Stylist: Trudy Nelson
Remote Colorist: Arianna Shining Star
Spirograph animations by Scott Lunny
Baltimore-born/Los Angeles-based artist Naeem (full name Naeem Juwan) announces his debut album, Startisha, out June 12th on 37d03d, alongside lead single, “Simulation” (Feat. Swamp Dogg & Justin Vernon). Startisha introduces Naeem as a restlessly creative artist. Impressionistic and genre-bending, Startisha exemplifies artistic, daring and emotional intelligence while exploring new ideas and sounds, and philosophically excavating the artist’s histories. This music comes straight from Naeem’s heart, representing the journey he’s taken to get to this point as well as what lies in the future for him.
“I had been reading a few books, such as Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art, and they helped me solidify feelings I’ve had all of my life about surviving a society of institutions that presents fictions as fact, and often use these fictions to diminish my worth, or to convince me to join their gangs,” says Juwan. “I wrote this song to remind myself, and hopefully everyone that hears it, that nothing is real, and our greatest defense in this life is our own creativity, and finding great faith in whatever sigils and icons we choose to guide us.”
Juwan has spent much of the last decade stretching his creative legs in a variety of ways: he’s hit the road with artists ranging from the Avalanches and Bon Iver to Big Red Machine and Mouse on Mars, took part in a PEOPLE residency in Berlin, and was selected as the music resident in 2019 for New York’s Pioneer Works space. Through it all, he’s been building the songs that make up Startisha, a record a half-decade in the making that featured Juwan pulling from creative circles all across the U.S. to craft a truly unique document of sound.
Studio work on Startisha started four years ago after Juwan linked up with producers Sam Green and Grave Goods in Philadelphia. After sessions in Philadelphia and New York, Juwan decamped to Minneapolis and holed up in Vernon’s home studio, where Startisha continued to come together with contributions from Vernon, Ryan Olson (Gayngs, Polica), Swamp Dogg, Velvet Negroni, Francis and the Lights, and regular collaborators Amanda Blank and Micah James.
In Juwan’s words, Startisha presented an opportunity to move on from past work under different monikers, and strike out under his own name, with the experimentation in the music a parallel to the personalization of its subject matter. The challenge was to “write songs from a personal place, and to write love songs – both things I’ve never done before.” Throughout, he sings about the ideas of self-care and the attention economy, the love for his boyfriend, and personal memories of growing up in Baltimore.