Anjimile isn’t an artist who’s easily defined — and that’s just the way they like it.  

“Identity is hard to define,” they said. “There are so many parts of me that feel deeply personal—my blackness, my queerness, my transness—and yet, I can’t hide them. Not that I want to, but being defined by the qualities that mark me as ‘other’ is somewhat dehumanizing. At the same time, it feels really empowering to stand up and say that I’m a radical trans black good boy. So I don’t know. It’s complicated.”

Anji Chithambo’s moniker first gained widespread recognition with 2015’s widely and warmly received Human Nature; although, Anjimile released two preceding EPs before the full-band, full-length Human Nature. Human Nature offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the young songwriter’s mind: emotional, winding melodies swell and falter as Chithambo explores capitalism, mental health, identity, and more against subdued but insistent instrumentation. Now, they have the spare, ardent single, “Golden Hands” to share with us.

Anjimile’s music embodies poeticism. Stylistically, Chithambo parses spirituality through lines that seemingly fall in iambic pentameter; there are also skillfully paired rhymes, like the slanted one here: “I feel now all of your golden time/It’s all a part of the grand design.” The rhythm is optimistic but reserved; so it follows in the sound.

Armed with only a guitar and their voice, “Golden Hands” highlights Anjimile’s penchant for introspective lyricism—“I wanted to love/your lovely heart/full of our heaven above”—and quick flitting fingers across their guitar. The song opens with a stagnant strum, Chithambo’s voice strong but slightly withheld—like most of Anjimile’s music, “Golden Hands” is deeply personal, but appropriately inward, concealing the parts they’re not quite ready to share yet. The album art, in fact, is a tessellation of Chithambo’s hair. “Does it look like my hair? I didn’t think anybody would notice,” they said.

My music is a representation of who I am deep down inside, and the vulnerability that I express in my songs is the same vulnerability that I express in my personal relationships with my friends and family,” Chithambo said. “Before I could learn to be vulnerable as an artist, I had to learn to be vulnerable as a human. I’m still learning.”

“Golden Hands” is full of raw vulnerability that waxes religious. Between the juxtaposition of imagery in the lyrics—“I rinse your fingers/I wash your feet,” which is, intentionally or not, evocative of a Biblical story—to the punctuation, or lack thereof, and its implications: “God I hope we will some day meet again,” where a comma inserted after “God” makes it a subject, and the line, therefore, a plea. Chithambo said they were highly spiritual individual—noting the difference between spirituality and religious devotion.

“I believe in the power of love, and the power of truth, and the power of growing pains,” they said. They also described their music, without using genre names, as “all ways [sic] blooming.”

On the topic of growing pains, Anjimile discussed the tribulations they hold with the Boston music scene. They said they see the music community, as well as the city itself, as incredibly racially segregated. “It’s disappointing to see in music spaces. It’s depressing, honestly,” they said. Anjimile noted that they work to play shows with diverse bills that include queer, trans, and people of color. (Catch them at Break The Chains: “Boston’s dopest [and possibly only] all-ages queer dance party” on Friday, Feb. 2nd.)

“Golden Hands” was mastered—along with Connor Eichinger and Lee Schuna—with the help of Keenan Hye from Boston’s own Yohannes. The trio run Get Mastered and their contributions are indicative of the deep ties running through the Boston music community. Anjimile admires the work of their peers, many of whom are friends, including Justine Bowe of Photocomfort, Michi Tassey of Nature Shots, Eleanor Elektra, Hawthorn (“I bought a Hawthorn shirt the other night, the shit is mad soft. I’m wearing it right now”), and HipStory’s Oompa — “[Her] instagram name is ‘oompoutloud.’ And that’s a verb. An action. To ‘oomp’ out loud. To go for it. To reach for the stars and just fucking go for it. I am deeply inspired by her hustle. I’m tryna ‘oompoutloud’ right now.”

But the city still has work to do, Chithambo said. “I urge white indie hipster Boston to seek out local queer and trans artists of color. And book them. And promote them, and include them. And pay them.”

You can listen to “Golden Hands” here, and be sure to pick up the track from Anjimile’s Bandcamp, or listen to it on Spotify, iTunes, or Google Play Music.

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