Video: a haunting view on leaving home

On the anniversary of Partition, a new work of music conveys the struggle of venturing to new land. Clove caught up with musician Humeysha to hear more. 

Imagery from Haunted, courtesy of Humeysha

Imagery from Haunted, courtesy of Humeysha

Released at the anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan - a new work of music called Haunted, by Indian/Pakistani-American musician Humeysha, reflects the journey of someone venturing to new land for their lover, whether it is the wife who leaves everything behind to be with her husband abroad or the refugee who sets sail because they cannot stay.

Humeysha says: “At heart, Haunted is a love song. It is about the pleasure of a lover’s company in any location, just as much as it is about the pains of venturing with them to a new land.” This theme is particularly salient to South Asian history - many people fled their homes due to the violence of 1947 Partition and other instances of violence such as the anti-Sikh riots of the 1980s. But the associated themes of migration and refugees resonate with people all over the world. 

The video for Haunted uses symbolic imagery to convey the notion of following a loved one: a shadowy, enticing hand, gesticulating movements reminiscent of Indian classical dance, draws us into a desert landscape, representing the isolation of a new, unfamiliar environment; a couple mirroring each other's movements, further conveying the idea of following a loved one. While watching the video, one is reminded of the sacrifice that many make to leave their homes, out of love, in search of a better life. 

Humeysha - the artist otherwise known by his real name, Zain Alam - began his musical career as an experiment while working as an oral historian for the 1947 Partition Archive across northern India in 2014. 'Humeysha' denotes 'forever' or 'always' in Urdu and Persian, a word Alam had an affinity for from a young age.

In his debut, self-titled album, Humeysha processed personal accounts of Partition and general histories of South Asia, while pairing them with references to his own love life. The album incorporated sounds heard during his time in the subcontinent, such as vegetable sellers in Lucknow, coupled with soothing psychedelic guitar loops and elements of Qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music - styles that he was exposed during his childhood in the USA. 

Imagery from Haunted, courtesy of Humeysha

Imagery from Haunted, courtesy of Humeysha

The new music video for Haunted remains true to Humeysha’s original style, with its echoing guitar loops and kaleidoscope imagery. It conveys how the lover/follower bears the consequences of their journey, yet remains silent in their suffering. 

The work is a snapshot into some of the major themes expressed in Humeysha's upcoming album Departures. "It is more ambitious in terms of the song writing and sound," he says. "Not as much like an internal bedroom record, but a song that’s a little more fleshed out". While Humeysha's first album was conceived in the subcontinent, Departures reflects Humeysha's life as an artist in New York.

Humeysha's new album Departures is expected on 31 August 2018