Nataal exclusive: Hejira debuts their video for I Don’t Belong To Anyone, inspired by the band’s trip to Ethiopia

From a deserted train station platform in south London to a winding, cattle-strewn road in the Ethiopian mountains, and from a simple black outfit to elaborate jewels and petal face paint, Hejira’s new video goes on a journey in more ways than one. I Don’t Belong To Anyone is an expression of self discovery and multiple identities born out of the band’s trip to Ethiopia last year. Frontwoman Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne spent a month travelling throughout her family’s homeland meeting distant relatives and fully immersing herself in the culture. She was later joined by band mates Alex Reeve and Sam Beste in Addis Abba where they recorded new sounds.

Invigorated by this shared experience, the first fruits is this rallying cry of a song full of field recordings and samples from old cassettes picked up on their travels. Squelchy bass and rattling drums underline Debebe-Dessalegne’s delicate but assertive vocals. Released last November, the song is given new dimensions by this video, debuting on Nataal now:

 

 
 

“It feels really good to celebrate every aspect of self and that's what this song and video does for me,” the singer says. “Coming back from Ethiopia I felt charged. I was totally in awe of the tribal styles and history of my heritage so when we came to the process of adornment for the video it was a really strange but special moment for me. It felt like I was embodying something new and ancient at the same time. It was as if I could feel the weight of my ancestors lifting me. This gave me a strong sense of dignity and pride.”

Hejira originally formed in 2010 and released their debut LP, the Matthew Herbert-produced Prayer Before Birth in 2013. I Don't Belong to Anyone is taken from Hejira’s most recent EP The Lima Limo Ceremony, which is also the debut release for Lima Limo Records. The new label has been set up by a collective of artists including Hejira, soulful singer Tawiah (read our story with her here), poet Rolf Dragstra and string duo Fran & Flora. Tawiah explains: “We've all been working hard on new music and know a whole network of amazing musicians and so the idea of a label for artists run by artists was born. We are figuring it out everyday as our way of sharing our music.”

The Lima Limo crew are hosting a series of monthly events at east London’s Servants Jazz Quarters with Fran & Flora and Sam Beste up next on 26 February. Hejira also play the Elgar Rooms at the Royal Festival Hall on 13 February as part of the Unpopular Music showcase in aid of Help Refugees, and join the line-up at Outlines Festival in Sheffield on 4 March.

 
 

 
 

Words Helen Jennings

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