"A lot of the media and movies coming out these days are talking about this dismal apocalyptic future, but, I think we are already living in that space," Lal singer Rosina Kazi tells Spinner.
The Toronto-born Bengali frontwoman for the politically charged act says the disenfranchised should consider it an opportunity, though.
"People are always being shat on and having tough times," says Kazi. "But the point is not to look at it as something dismal, rather, to see the power in marginalized communities."
Such were the guidelines for Lal's upcoming self-titled album that drew inspiration from brutalities at Toronto's G20 protests, Arab Spring uprisings, and a general global socio-political malaise. Kazi feels that the have-nots groups involved in all these events have a hidden strength not recognized by Western capitalists.
"I'm not talking about the poor who have no food, but looking at it through a different lens, like what do members bring to their communities, and how skills can be bartered," she says. "I wanted to talk about the positive things we do as artists and communities."
Kazi and her bandmate Murr, a former hip-hop producer, met back in the heyday of HMV's superstore at 333 Yonge Street in Toronto. The duo were also inspired by a recent trip to India, where one of the highlights was DJing at an open-concept cafe where people could just come and plug in their iPods.
"Kids of all kinds and social levels showed up and danced," says Kazi. "Some of them don't even have shoes on. It was really cool to see how they reacted to our music. I want to see them in five or 10 years because they are still mimicking western b-boy moves. I want to see them evolve."
Lal's new self-titled album was not intended as a bleak exercise, but rather to celebrate life and to create something new in honor of the passing of Kazi's mother earlier this year.
"It's a tribute to my mom in the way that life is short, so you better have some fun and make things happen," Kazi says. "She was a strong supporter of the arts, and she threw massive house parties for every Bengali artist that passed through Toronto."
Murr's part in the album's creation came from a different kind of place. And he's not so sure he ever intends to go back there.
He says he listened to a lot of Brian Eno's Music For Airports album and watching lot of horror films, influences that can be heard on the opening track "Red Rooms."
"It was a very un-uniformed process," he says. "I will never make an album this way again."
This, despite the end result being a genuinely elegant and seductive album.
"There was no distinctive vision," he says. "We were making it with the intention of creating an immersive sound -- to create something encompassing was our only mandate. It was a disgusting challenge. Sometimes it's important to have an idea of where you are going with an album so that you know how you are going to do it live. This was a good process to go through, but we'll never do it again!"
Murr shouldn't be so quick to say never, though. After all, there's power in turmoil. He just needs to ask his singer.