Nearly 20 years into a career of singing, writing, and raga-inspired guitar-playing touched by elements of folk and psychedelia—for himself, and with Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s Karen O, who he co-wrote the soundtrack of Where the Wild Things Are with in 2009—the mystical Imaad Wasif has found a new groove. This time, the LA-based Indian experimental musician has taken the torrid title track from his most recent album, So Long Mr. Fear, and turned it onto its clunky, funky head with the help of Beastie Boys collaborator and Mo’ Wax label stalwart Money Mark for a more percussive, piano-laden, and Vocoder-vexing version, “Mr. Fear, So Long.”
While Wasif’s new collab with Money Mark benefits from the latter’s skills on piano and sundry keyboard elements in its mix, “Mr. Fear, So Long” never lacks for Imaad’s usual spacy psychedelic vibes and mushroom-y mood-swing-a-bility. “Reworking this gem of a song from Imaad was a complete pleasure,” says Money Mark, a keyboardist credited on the Beasties’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay. “Getting to play with song architecture might be the funnest activity I can think of and dissecting and re-thinking the possibilities of a super cool song like this gives me pure joy.”
Along with praising Mark, Wasif chose him as his new collaborator while on tour with Yeah Yeah Yeahs last year. “I was hoping that this collab would trigger new sonic ideas for me to start working on new songs. The only thing I remember us talking about was [David Bowie’s piano-heavy] “Station to Station,” so maybe somewhere in the back my mind, I was hoping that Mark would go that direction—that’d be a tall order for anyone…I’m not too interested in living in the shadow of the old rock archetypes and rehashing them. For me, it’s all about creating something new.”
Wasif left Money Mark alone with this new album’s title track, and only came in when the keyboardist/remixer wanted him to add new vocals and guitar. “He’s definitely a mystery man,” says Wasif, “but while you are with him, he’s completely revealed—present, focused, and engaged. His energy for exploration is inspiring and contagious. It’s baffling how he was able to transpose my primitive chord-ing into these sophisticated motifs and have them run seamlessly underneath the vocal melody without disrupting the source signal flow of the lyric.” Wasif compares Money Mark to Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, a “mad genius” who “hooked pure electricity into ‘Mr. Fear’ and reanimated the song in a totally new way: an alien funk with its dark vision Intact.”
As for how radical a re- and de-construction Money Mark is responsible for, Wasif laughs: “It’s on another planet! C’mon, that vocoder line? It's a euphoric listen. It’s got infinite lives, I think. I’m hoping that it gets the message of the song across to more people, a light of some kind to be felt or a minor reclamation of strength after the pandemic took it from us, a recognition of how fucked that all was.”
Hear the remix below.