Singer-composer Anna Katharina Valayil aka Tribemama Marykali is a force to reckon with – a voice that cannot be ignored. Her latest single ‘Bless Ya Heels’ is no exception and is a hard-hitting track that embraces femininity in all its glory. The vibrant video featuring the artist with fellow female companions fuses elements of the traditional and the modern with the women dressed in traditional sarees whilst challenging the concept of femininity as is seen in the scene of them smoking cigarettes (considered a masculine habit in society).
Feisty, spunky and bold – the danceable number has femininity at its core. Talking about what inspired the single, Marykali tells us, “My femininity inspired me to write and sing such a song, and it wouldn’t be complete without my Tribe.” The song made in collaboration with producer Da Architecht (Artie) was a product of 2 years’ worth of coordinating across countries.
With lyrics like ‘Wash your feet in the rain and pray,/Before you move towards my templs/ Bless ya heels/ You stand on sacred ground…I am a Star of Venus/ I am Goddess witch/ Badass bitch…Tribe mama from the core/Am diggin’ in the core now!’ , the single implores women to embrace how powerful they are and the strength in their identities. It also talks about how women are not limited to their bodies and must break out of moulds set by society, where they classify women as ‘good girls.’ Marykali adds, “This freak show called the ‘good girl’ must be played out every time in exchange for social validation from a group of people called the society. It treats women as something weak, pushing them into their bodies and locking up their minds and limiting their cerebral rights. The feminine side and its supreme creative energy that is worthy of being experienced is tactfully glass framed, kept and worshipped so we remain inside a box and never come out of it.”
Reflecting on how her multicultural roots have defined the musical sensibility behind the track, Marykali tells us, “I guess we have strains of Alternate RnB, Electro and Kerala Folk and Afro. The Afro influence is because I was raised in Nigeria and Artie loves his hip hop and Black Kofi and Kaytranada. We are huge fans of Avial – no one has ever turned indie without Avial– our brothers in Avial stand tall in our Indie lineage.”
As an artist, she feels that her moniker derives from the duality of her personality, “Marykali is my higher self. I am a Gemini and I understand this reality is founded in duality. The polarities of this reality must be balanced, so Mary is my colonised, socialised side and Kali is my innate spiritual side untouched by any race or religion or society, even a gender. She is Shakti!”
On the addition of the word Tribe Mama, she adds, “Humans are a tribal race, and I had formed two bands called the Wolf Tribe with an electronic sounding and The Tribe with an organic band sounding. They both didn’t work well together,r so I dismantled both. When I met Niko and Architecht, I still couldn’t give up that tribe side which is all about being cosmic and human. I was also a full-time mom and Marykali insisted I add ‘mama’, one was a virgin mom and the other the first divine dark mother of all life forms, how could I say ‘no’. Therefore, ‘Tribe Mama Marykali’ – a sovereign soul masquerading as flesh in this reality.”
In a sentence, she would define herself as an artist as – ‘Marykali is genre blending’.
On a parting note, we ask her what’s next for her. She answers candidly, “My husband has been watching me spend late nights writing music and in the daytime I am sitting alone on the kitchen counter with my headphones. It’s been going on for so many years even he is asking me what’s next. Well, I guess the Tribe will have an album coming out soon.”
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