Healing Potpourri, the vibrant indie pop project led by songwriter Simi Sohota, recently announced their upcoming album, Paradise, due out August 5th via Run For Cover Records. The album finds the Oakland-based musician unpacking two tumultuous years and pushing the band's sound in exciting new directions while collaborating with co-producer Sean O'Hagan (of Stereolab and The High Llamas) and engineer Jason Kick.
Today the band have shared Paradise's second single, "What Do I Do Now?" The track follows "Wind" (which garnered attention from the likes of Stereogum, BrooklynVegan, New Commute, and more) and offers a perfect cut of sunny keys and horns that highlights Sohora's ability to blend Brian Wilson-inspired chamber pop with a touch of warm psych.
Sohota discussed the new song saying:
"I started writing the chord progression for this one on my girlfriend’s childhood piano at her parents house. They ended up gifting that piano to us as a housewarming present when we moved to Oakland at the beginning of the pandemic and I wrote most of the “Paradise” album on it.
The lyrics are about a childhood friend who struggled with mental health issues and passed away due to an overdose. Since writing it I’ve had two more friends die under similar circumstances and it just really breaks my heart. The song is about feeling guilt from not doing more to help and about how much more was left unsaid. I hope that it will inspire folks to tell their friends and family how much they love them because the future isn’t guaranteed.
I wanted to contrast the lyrical subject matter with the most sugary and poppy production we could come up with. Jason Kick and I had this one nearly finished by the time we brought it to Sean O’hagan, who co-produced. He added some really sugary backup vocal ideas which I re-recorded with my voice.
The music video has this really nostalgic feel that reminds me of the feeling of thinking about a childhood friend, and the innocence of that. We worked with Sarah Phenix and Claire Donohue that have a company called Rainbow Tunnel that specializes in analog film techniques and they did a really amazing capturing the feel of the song."
Where Healing Potpourri's previous album, Blanket of Calm, was made by a large cast of Bay Area musicians, Paradise was created primarily by the more compact team of Sohota, O'Hagan, and Kick. But the result is actually an even more sprawling sound that seamlessly melds electronic instrumentation and colorful psych washes with Sohota’s knack for rhapsodic songwriting and gorgeous melodies. “There are more synths, it’s more experimental,” he explains. “Part of that was just trying to make a lush, full band sound with just me, Jason, Sean, and a computer, but the other part of it was just the swirling dread and fear and paranoia of the time.” Throughout the record Sohota’s lyrics wrestle with pandemic-era dread and social tumult, looking directly into the deluge of frustration and despair, but also refusing to be completely defeated by it. His words stand in stark contrast with the effervescent instrumentation, adding a new dimension to Healing Potpourri. “The lyrics aren’t about everything being fine," he says. "A lot of the record is about how bad things are and how I’m angry about it–but I realized that can be Healing Potpourri too.”