Anjimile (Chithambo), whose gender pronouns are they/them/their, describes their music as candid, emotional, and spiritual; a melodic indie-pop sound characterized by their smooth, highly expressive croon backed by guitar and synthesizer.
Their 2015 debut Human Nature is noted as a “colorful, chaotic, melodic journey into the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings that we call the human condition.” And Good Boy, a 2016 self-release, is a lo-fi folk masterpiece chock full of vulnerability following a mental breakdown, and recorded on a smartphone from an addiction treatment facility.
Their latest album, Colors, debuted in July. With six albums and six years in the Boston music scene under their belt, it's clear that Anjimile is on track to break out big.
Music has always been a huge part of their life. They started performing at age nine as a member of the Plano Children's Chorale in Texas, a select choir for 'musically exceptional students.' "I loved every minute of it," they tell us. "And I continued to participate in chorus up until I graduated high school." That training is easily detected in their music now, with a voice that's honey-smooth and wide in range.
Anjimilie's early musical influences are also heard. "I grew up listening to what my parents listened to-- Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Michael Jackson. I love 80s and 90s pop, I'm also a big disco fan." they say. "When I was in high school I went through an 'indie folk/indie rock' phase and I've been in that realm ever since."
It was in the heart of that phase that Anjimile wrote their first song "Apocalypse Now," a tune that captures the excitement of leaving the Bible-belt environment they grew up in. "It’s hard to explain the process - it sort of just happened," they say. "I sat down with my guitar and it just came out of me and I thought to myself, fuck, this is a pretty good song."
Spirituality is a constant theme in their music. “I’m a total hippie. I’m a tree-hugging, mountain-climbing, barefoot, sunrise-loving, meditating star child.”
Anjimile's music also focuses on the pain—and the grace—of life. “I sing about my love for living and my appreciation for the beauty of existing. I sing about the pain of being a person, and the pain of personal growth and emotional development.” On ‘Human Nature,’ they sing about their choice to follow their dreams in lieu of a more traditional career. In the vein of 'Mr. Corporation,' they ask, “Study music? Whatcha gonna do with that?” And answer with exasperated wit: “I’m just gonna live in a box! I’m just gonna live in a cardboard box!”
Anjimile started out small. “My first off-campus show was a performance at an Australian meat pie shop in Eastie that I found on Craigslist called KO Pies," they tell us. "It turned into a summer residency, which was really awesome. I got paid in delicious meat pies.“
They recently finished three months as an artist-in-residence at the Industry Lab in Cambridge where they wrote, recorded, and produced Colors. "The album is heavily inspired by all of the cool things going on at Industry Lab," they tell us. "The lab is a co-working space filled with engineers and architects and entrepreneurs and small local tech businesses. There are people building synthesizers and espresso machines and arcade games. It’s wild. It’s awesome and it inspired the somewhat 'eclectic' musical feel of the album.”
Anjimile’s platform continues to grow. They recently performed at the Juneteenth celebration at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, noting the experience as a, "deeply powerful evening of programming focused on black liberation, celebration and resistance."
Their next big gig? It's the WERS Wicked Good Festival on August 18, a show that came shortly after they were selected as WBUR's Favorite Massachusetts Tiny Desk Entry. “I actually wasn’t going to submit to Tiny Desk this year," Anjimile says. "My friend Justine [AKA Photocomfort] who provides harmony vocals and synth in the video, was the one who encouraged me to just film something and turn it in. We did it in three takes I think. I was very, very, very surprised to learn that I won. I still am. I can’t believe it. It’s quite surreal. I’m really, really, really excited to play... Bleachers is headlining! I get to play on the same stage as Bleachers. I get to play at the same show as Bleachers. It’s an incredible opportunity, I can’t wait.”
Wicked Good Fest will be Anjimile's first large-scale performance as a solo artist, but they're no stranger to the festival stage. In June they performed at the first-annual BAMS Fest as the bassist for Billy Dean Thomas. "Billy is an active member of the QTPOC music community and consistently utilizes their resources, talent and intellect as a means to uplift and support the local queer black community."
In troubled times, it is especially heartening to see a queer musician thriving and building up a community. And with an abundance of raw talent—and years of performing under their belt—Anjimile is an artist to watch on their fast-moving journey to the top.