British electro-funk/soul collective WINACHI are all about fun and having a good time. Their infectious sexy grooves – which they describe as “swaggering Mancunian tenacity spliced with smooth Californian G Funk soul” – are guaranteed to have you shaking your ass with a smile on your face.
Based in and around Manchester, WINACHI originally formed in 2015 as The Winachi Tribe, and have undergone a few personnel changes over the years. They’re now comprised of founding members Liam Croker (lyrics and vocals), Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming) and Inder Goldfinger (percussion), along with Andy McKay (lead guitar), Richard Ritchie (bass) and Paul Lawrence (drums), all accomplished musicians with diverse musical backgrounds.
I first learned about them in Spring of 2018, around the time they released their funky dance single “Transition”. I instantly loved it, as well as all their subsequent releases, and have featured them on this blog more times than I can remember (you can find links to some of those reviews under “Related” at the end of this post.)
WINACHI has collaborated over the years with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and this past March, Liam, Antony and Inder returned to Los Angeles to work with producers John X (who’s worked with such artists as David Bowie, the Rolling Stones & Reeves Gabrels) and Joe Hirst (Ian Brown, Bloc Party). Together they recorded the single “Heaven In Hell.A“, which they released along with an entertaining video on Halloween. The song is the lead single from their forthcoming full length debut album Sympathy For The Future, due for release next year. The song and video were recorded and produced at the Earthstar Creation Centre in the L.A. community of Venice.
Musically, the features a delicious signature WINACHI dance groove, over which they layer thick drum-bass beats, spooky psychedelic synths, and lots of funky guitar. Liam’s distinctive vocals, which sit in a sweet spot between sultry and raspy, perfectly complement the music’s mysterious, yet lighthearted, vibe.
As to the song’s meaning, my take is that it speaks to the seductive nature of Los Angeles (Liam loves the city) and how, despite its many shortcomings, it’s also a magical place that can really get under your skin. (I lived there for eight years in the 1980s, and have a conflicted love/hate feeling for it myself.) He uses a demonic she-devil woman as a metaphor for L.A.’s seductive, intoxicating power: “The city’s heart is burning, hotter than the sun, The life you taste upon your breath is the proof you’ve had your fun. The city’s pulse it’s beating to the rhythm of her drum. You know she’s gonna love you, as long as you keep breathing. Once you’re in hell and under her spell, then you know that you won’t be leaving.”
The video, written and directed by Tom Muhl, shows the three members of WINACHI arriving at a party, whereupon they meet a man played by John X and a woman played by Frankie Clarke of L.A. band Frankie + The Studs. They give the guys little black pills that appear to be in the shape of a devil’s head, and soon after ingesting them they start tripping out, with the other party attendees appearing to be zombies with skeletal faces. The guys escape in a car, roaming the nighttime streets of L.A., where they continue to encounter more skeletal demons, and eventually, Antony become a zombie himself. The next morning, Liam is shown chilling on a beach, seemingly relieved that last night’s events appear to have been just a nightmare. But then, he sees the she-devil standing nearby, holding an hourglass and shrieking with macabre laughter.
Here’s just the track itself:
While in Los Angeles last March, WINACHI played a gig at the landmark club The Mint, which, other than for a couple of brief closures, has been in almost continuous operation since 1937. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Liam, Antony and Inder, and seeing them perform some of their songs that I love.