Pei – the project of Joji Malani, former lead guitarist of Gang Of Youths – has shared its debut single, ‘Honest’.
The track, released today (May 19), is Malani’s first as a solo artist. It premiered on triple j’s Good Nights program last night prior to its official release. The project name is taken from the Fijian word for “baby”, and is pronounced “pay”.
Malani co-wrote and co-produced ‘Honest’ with Tim Fitz, the bassist for Middle Kids. The song marks a considerable departure from Malani’s work with Gang of Youths, incorporating more of a folktronica sound by combining finger-picked acoustic guitar with drum machines and vocoders.
An accompanying music video has also been shared for the song. The clip depicts a woman being initiated into a cult-like setting, which is interspersed with footage of Malani shaving his own head and being bathed in honey. Watch it below:
In a press statement, Malani explained that the song dealt with how it can be “hard to be honest about what we’re going through, and how much it affects us”.
“It’s not even the big stuff,” he said. “Losing a job or the end of a relationship can destabilize us in ways we don’t, expect and sometimes we’re too embarrassed to admit it and subdue the feeling.”
Malani went on to note that the song was inspired by two close friends who were going through very similar ordeals, yet neither were able to “be upfront with how it was affecting them”.
“It was painful to watch them struggle and turn to things that you hadn’t seen them do before,” he said. “We have all been there, and this song is about relating to being in that spot and being real with each other.”
Malani left Gang of Youths in 2019, having served as the band’s lead guitarist since its inception. He played on their first two albums, 2015’s ‘The Positions’ and 2017’s ‘Go Farther In Lightness’. Since leaving the band, Malani has founded his own label imprint Broth Records, announcing his first signing – Sydney band Coconut Cream – last year. Pei’s music will also be distributed via Broth.