MUSIC: AYSHAY INTERVIEW (SUPERSUPER! VOL 2 #002)
NY-based singer/composer Fatima Al Qadiri is the talent behind Ayshay [meaning ‘whatever’ in Arabic], a project that reinterprets traditional Islamic chants to produce hypnotic sounds. Having just released her latest EP WARN-U, what’s next for the 2k11’s most intriguing experimental artist?
SS: Tell us about the inspiration behind your reinterpretations of Islam music culture. What is it about these kinds of sounds that appeals to you?
A: I had two deeply religious grandmothers, one Sunni and one Shi’ite, who both listened to their respective sectarian anthems. It’s very humbling music, as is the main goal of most religious music. But it also inspires fear – I was secretly terrified of those acapellas. The fear factor is what I channelled when I attempted to re-interpret the sound. It was a bad time in my life when I recorded those songs… thankfully, there was a happy ending.
SS: It seems like the concept of experimentation is really significant to your work. Do you ever see yourself making more mainstream sounds? What kind of music do you like to listen to yourself?
A: ‘Mainstream’ is a difficult word. What appeals to the masses changes on a daily basis. I know I’m always going to make music that appeals to me, first and foremost. And I’m not constant with it – yesterday I did acapella, tomorrow it’s dance music. It’s whatever I feel like doing, hence the name ‘Ayshay’ (‘whatever’ in Arabic). I listen to YouTube videos mainly. It’s exciting stuff from all over the world, covering a wide range of countries.
SS: Acts like you, Nguzunguzu etc are bringing a lot of different styles of world music into a wider Western forum. Do you think it’s important for people to experience a more expansive scope of music from different cultures?
A: I think it’s the most important thing for people to listen to contemporary world music! Not the National Geographic-style world music for mature audiences, but the real, hard-hitting, bass-thumping jams. I have a blog called ‘Global.WAV’, on DIS Magazine that’s a decent guide to new world music.
SS: When we first spoke you mentioned that you are very much a studio musician over a live one – has your attitude towards performing changed since then? Can we expect more live Ayshay performances in the future?
A: You know, I’m a little old-school when it comes to the idea of performance. I studied music composition for a bit in college, and in classical music there is a clear distinction between composer and performer – and I’ve always seen myself as being the former. Performance is an art form all by itself. It takes years of devotion and practice, and at this point in my life I’m only interested in devoting time to making music.
SS: Is it true that you’re working on a full-length album?
A: No, I’m working on three separate EPs. One under my real name, called Genre-Specific Xperience – out end of October, it’s a genre-bending dance music EP. The following is called Future Brown, which is top secret…And lastly, the next Ayshay EP called Muslim Trance 2, which is the sequel to the original Muslim Trance mix I made last year. Both Future Brown and Muslim Trance 2 will be released 2012.
SS: We loved Nguzunguzu’s remix on the EP. Are there any other collaborations in the works?
A: Future Brown is a collaboration between myself and two female producers, but that’s all I’m going to disclose for now.
SS: What’s in the future for Ayshay? Where would you ultimately like to take the project?
A: I don’t think that far into the future. I just know I need to make music that’s challenging in some way, however small. If it’s titled Ayshay or something else, it doesn’t matter. I’m not building a repertoire for a singular concept, that’s not my goal.
Interview: Charlotte McManus