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How Bartees Strange helped Milwaukee’s Holy Pinto build his latest single

When we first met Aymen Saleh of Milwaukee’s Holy Pinto, he was a fresh transport from Canterbury, England, and drawn to raw, punk-ier sounds. These days, Saleh has sweetened those sounds and is as Milwaukeean as any of the rest of us. 

“Milwaukee's in all the music I do now, really, since I live here. It's all my reference points,” said Saleh, who underlined his cred — and a new connection made because of it — by snagging fellow England expat Bartees Strange to do the production work on his newest single, “us, married.”

“One of the first people to have bumped my music in the U.S. is an old friend, and he thought we’d make some cool stuff together, so he put us in contact,” Saleh recalled. “It was early last year, so Bartees was less busy than now. I went over to his place in D.C., and we worked in his basement for a week.”

The joined forces of Saleh and Strange just felt natural, and it comes through on “us, married.” Piano and synth draw us in, building on a driving rock vibe as the final close-up falls on the unavoidable ebbs and flows of relationships, and their subsequent ripple effects. 

Strange shared that Saleh’s intimate writing impressed him: “ album was a gift to work on, and spending time with him during the pandemic came at a time in my life where his music meant even more to me,” Strange said in a press release. “He went very deep on these sessions when he left my house, so even though I played a role in his song, any and all of the flowers belong to him.”

The new track heralds a full-length from Holy Pinto that will arrive in 2023 and also teases a broader soundscape that stems, in part, from listening to “a lot of CAMEone” — Milwaukee producer Michael Cerda, who has worked with Kanye’s loops (among others) and contributed to various hip-hop projects.

“His work, coupled with a friend lending me a bad-ass synthesizer, meant that I was messing a lot with keyboards,” Saleh explained, “and I feel like that left a mark on the song.” 

We look forward to hearing how the rest of these songs bloom, starting with a small tour Holy Pinto kicks off in Milwaukee on Oct. 4 at the Anodyne Walker’s Point Roastery.

Listen to ”us, married” below and on 88Nine. Or check out the video (also below), which was written, directed and filmed by Moriah Bame and Sean McDowell.
"us, married" by Holy Pinto