Sibling duo Jendayi and Gyasi Bonds have been the band Charlie Belle for most of their lives. Talented, outspoken, Black, and queer, the sister and brother are perhaps most of all, more experienced at music making than their peers.
International acclaim arrived when Jendayi and Gyasi were just sixteen and fourteen-years-old. NPR, Nylon, MTV, Vice, and Wired profiled the pair, and Jendayi and Gyasi appeared together on the cover of the Austin Chronicle, their hometown paper at the time.
Two new singles and videos in 2020 continued the forward motion.
“We’ve been a band for over a decade and we’ve been Black our whole lives. Now more than ever there’s a spotlight on what Black artists bring to the table in all genres,” Jendayi explained at the time.
Now, in a 2023 world, as adults living in Brooklyn, Jendayi and Gyasi are products of a time that continually challenges them to be exactly who they are. The maturity that comes with life experience sounds great alongside their musical history on the upcoming Charlie Belle single and video “What Is This,” scheduled for release on September 15.
The new song is a deeper groove than Charlie Belle has ever offered before, and lyrically, it reflects exactly who Jendayi is today.
“Helicopters flying… filming people dying. Got a roof and it’s downtown. I can hear the sirens.”
“This lyric is about the George Floyd protests,” Gyasi explains, before continuing with an insight that only a sibling could truly have: “The ‘roof’ isn’t just a physical place. It symbolizes Jendayi‘s mind and her anxious, scary, stressful thoughts.”
“It’s bittersweet watching him grow up,” Jendayi says of her thoughtful brother. “We’re so close in age, but just far enough away where I can see what Gyasi is going through from being on the other side of it. What a gift it has been to be on this journey together.”
Jendayi and Gyasi‘s journey is not solitary. They speak to us, too:
“Scared of something that doesn’t exist. Yeah I’m scared of something that doesn’t exist,” they solemnly sing on the “What Is This” chorus. This isn’t just Jendayi‘s mind now. It’s everyone at one time or another.
“Do you feel it too?” Jendayi wonders. “Because the first time Gyasi played this track for me, it gave me chills and I immediately knew we would release it. I was bumping along to it, scrolling through my notes app — where my old lyrics go to die — and I knew in my soul that this song was what these words had been waiting for.”
“With more life behind me, I can express myself with more intention,” Jendayi concludes, referencing the music that Charlie Belle made when they were so much younger. “It is so bizarre gaining recognition for shit you did as a kid, but I don’t want to replace the image people have of us, I want to add to it.”
“What Is This,” the latest single and video by sister-brother duo Charlie Belle arrives September 15.