There’s a certain freedom to existentialism, once we learn to embrace it. That’s the underlying message of Bhi Bhiman’s new album, I’ll Sleep When I’m Famous. For a lot of us, the past few years have been marked by loss. “This collection of songs is meant to acknowledge the elephant in the room: the fact that in one way or another death is always a presence in life,” Bhi says. “Not in a dark and depressing way, but as a radical act of acceptance that life will always include loss, and that what we choose to do with that fact impacts the trajectory of our lives. Will we focus on what’s truly important – deep human connection, family, community – or be distracted by fleeting desires and weighed down by loss?”
When the pandemic hit, like everyone else, Bhi was just trying to survive for a while. And then his father-in-law was dying and he and his wife were juggling that plus pandemic school plus the never-ending stream of bad news, and suddenly he felt inspired. “I’d often write and record in my little home studio after I put my daughter to bed,” he says. “One night, I started picking this melody and the lyrics just sort of poured out while playing guitar.” That became “Up All Night,” the first single off this new album, and the rest of the album poured out of him too.
The third and final focus track from this collection, “It’s Only Just Begun,” was inspired by the loss of Bhi’s young cousin – a brilliant kid who died by suicide in 2018. “This song is sort of a letter to him, to his friends, and maybe to my younger self. It’s just saying that when you hit a low point as a youth, you don’t realize how small of a moment that really is in the context of life. Especially as a teenager. Life has only just begun.”
“First rate, folk-based and undeniably unique” according to the Washington Post, Bhi’s genius has always been catchy songs that pack a deeper punch. Over the course of his career, the St. Louis native has collaborated with a diverse list of creatives including comedian/actor Keegan-Michael Key, author Dave Eggers, singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, rapper/director Boots Riley, and late iconic singer Chris Cornell. Bhi has been called, “One of America’s best kept secrets” by The Times UK, and “first rate and undeniably unique” by the Washington Post. His music has been praised by the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Billboard and the New York Times.