Warka, the musical collective helmed by singer-songwriter Jesse Ainslie packs a similar collection of enigmas. With the help of drummer Brad Porter (Brett Harris, The Auxiliary) and bassist Spencer Lee (MAKE, Protozoa), Ainslie is seeking a new beginning for an old mystery. Warka’s debut single, “I’m In Love Again” pulses with electronic beats and synthesizers, but is audibly informed by American roots music.
As the former guitarist for Phosphorescent and Castanets, Ainslie is well versed in the world of Americana, but after releasing a solo album under his own name he began to find the notions that constructed the genre confining, even problematic. “I was thinking about the word Americana and thinking about how, as a genre, it has a race problem. It presupposes white heritage. Part of me wanted to make something that touched those narrative traditions but broke open some of the associated tropes, and requirements,” Ainslie reflects. “I started thinking about Tina Turner and the electronic aspects of her ’80s records. I was listening to Sade and Kendrick Lamar, and the original score to the ’80s Blade Runner. I started trying to figure out how to make the computer a little less metronomic, and me a little more metronomic,” he explains.
The result is a slow burning album of apocalyptic rhythm and blues, fight songs for whatever flames we’ll have to walk through next.

It is a project that seeks to push through the fog and fearfulness of the present. The songs are inspired as much by late-night conversations about ancient empires, chance encounters with spirits, and dystopian science fiction as they are by day-to-day life. Even when the songs themselves sound heavy hearted, they’re still gilded around the edges with hope, like dawn breaking on the horizon. The lyrics sometimes seem to allude to present existential anxieties.