Listen: Kyoto Aainori by Vince and the Girl

Multicultural identities can be a difficult thing to navigate for some, but Saee Haldule-Bonvin seems to have eased into it with Vince and the Girl. Released together with partner and guitarist Vincent Bonvin, ‘Kyoto Aainori’ is a blend of Japanese, Indian and European music that is arranged in a way that’s bound to prick up your ears.

While the strings and guitar add a warm folk layer, Saee is effortless in delivering her wistful Japanese lyrics, with a seemingly Marathi folk cadence. The singer-songwriter (and actor) talks about how she takes her lived experiences from the Japanese culture.

“I have been connected to Japan since I was a child, visiting it for the first time when I was six. I also completed my undergraduate studies in Japan, living there for many years. During this time, I had the opportunity to research, experiment with and perform theatre and music there, thus developing strong roots that still connect me to the culture,” Saee says.

Although it was not intended to be sung in Japanese from the beginning, Saee explains that there was an “excellent synthesis of our various influences”. She adds over email, “What made it extra special was the fact that the very nature of the song is such that it prevents us from being fit into a slot, any slot; genre, linguistic or geographical.”

There’s more material in the works but Saee says that the current coronavirus pandemic has affected their plans for international collaborations. “We already have multiple songs in the works (Japanese, French, English and Marathi), but since they all have Indian aspects to them and are imagined in a way that they need to be recorded in collaboration with Indian musicians, we will have to wait until we can fly back (from Switzerland to India).”