August 25 2014
Late summer days are tricky days. You’ve either started working or studying, and you’ve got back into your usual routine. Or maybe you’re, like me, waiting for it all to start. There are remedies for this restlessness; one of them is to gather information and really get “into the zone” about someone or something. Let me introduce a worthy topic of obsession, namely Yasmine Hamdan and her music. Her first solo album Ya Nass (i.e “Oh, people”) consists of melodic songs sung in Arabic, incorporating global and popular modern influences.
In the late 1990′s, Yasmine played an important and crucial part in establishing Beirut’s indie culture scene, which today has managed to charm large crowds internationally – it’s basically the music that melts the hearts of humans, vampires and zombies. See it for yourself, watch Yasmine perform ‘Hal’ (off Ya Nass) in this scene taken from Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flick ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’.
Yasmine Hamdan – Hal / ”Only Lovers Left Alive”
You may well know of Yasmine Hamdan already. Otherwise, here’s a little introduction and some eye candy.
Yasmine Hamdan’s voice carries years of musical and linguistic talent. She was born in Lebanon in 1976, almost straight into the Lebanese civil war’s outbreak. She’s lived and worked in many countries – Greece, Kuwait and France being some of them. The civil war obviously provoked a lot of moving and flight of people, and Yasmine got to overview many different areas and absorbed different Arabic dialects and other languages. The music surely became a safe house, and an important constant in her life. Her voice and music’s developed an exciting diversity, as it’s both soft and sweet and sharp and edgy.
In the mid 1990′s, she started out as part of a band project, along with instrumentalist Zeid. The band soon split, but the two of them formed the band Soap Kills a few years later which became a successful project that famously generated a break-through internationally. One can’t help but think that the merging of Arabic lyrics and electronic music empowered listeners to stand up for Beirut as a city full of hope and thriving young, creative people, as it rose from the destruction that the civil war had caused. After releasing three albums with Soap Kills, Yasmine moved on to Paris, where she began collaborating with Mirwais and CocoRosie, and pursued her music-making until finally going solo.
Yasmine created a link between the ancient classical Arab music, and the innovative development of it. Even though she’s lived in various places and travelled the world, she still finds Lebanon in her heart and cherishes her native language with a passion. Her biography as a musician shows that a country’s cultural foundation for art and music should be a lively arena for thought, discussion and innovation as it helps with the stabilization and the progress of people (and places) who’ve been through disastrous times.
Cure your autumn blues with Yasmine’s music! And why not try translating some of the lyrics to your native language if you, like I, don’t speak Arabic – the poems that emerge speak of the past and the present, and the struggles and victories of the human heart.
Behold the splendor! Both videos feature songs from the album Ya Nass, released internationally in 2013.
Yasmine Hamdan – Samar (official video)
Written by Yasmine Hamdan /Marc Collin
Produced by Marc Collin
Video directed by Harvey B. Brown
Produced by Alain Dib
Co-produced by (c) 2012 Satellite My Love / Kwaidan Records