July 19, 2023 — Empire Electric, the anticipated new album from No-No Boy—the acclaimed musical project of Dr. Julian Saporiti—will be released September 29 via Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (pre-order/pre-save here). Ahead of the release, new song, “Mekong Baby,” featuring vocals from Viet-American pop icon, Thai Hien, is debuting today. Watch/share the official music video, directed by Saporiti and his wife, Emilia, HERE.
Produced by Saporiti alongside his wife, Emilia Halvorsen Saporiti, and Seth Boggess, Empire Electric was inspired by Saporiti’s time at Blue Cliff monastery in upstate New York. A period of raw reflection and healing, the visit allowed Saporiti to open himself up, both mentally and musically, leading him to experiment with the American folk sounds, Asian instruments, electronics and field recordings that became Empire Electric. Across these 10 tracks—stories based on his own research as well as archives, oral histories and site visits—Saporiti explores his own identity as a Vietnamese-American, while also examining the complex topics of spirituality, intergenerational trauma and imperialism.
In addition to Julian Saporiti (lead vocals, instruments, programming) and Emilia Halvorsen Saporiti (lap steel, harmony vocals), the record also features P.T. Banks (harmony vocals), Hamilton Berry (cello), Diego Javier Luis (spoken word on “1603”) and Kristin Weber (violin, vocals).