Egyptians are quite incredible people. They have everything: the culture, the music, the scenes. So much of Arab music and art started there.
— Yasmine Hamdan
I don't think there is only one Arab culture or a pure Arabness. We are very multiple, especially our generation, which is very multilayered.
I studied psychology at university.
I think our societies - to certain extent, of course, and to different degrees, but almost with no exception - have always been struggling to come to terms with archaic traditions.
As an artist, you need to be true to yourself and free and not put yourself in a box that contradicts with what you feel is needed for a song.
When I started doing music, it was out of despair and boredom. I got passionate about it, and I felt that it allowed me to become somebody: an artist who explores her different identities.
'Al Jamilat' is not just feminist. It's an album with songs that feature women: women who are in love, rebellious women, political activists, women who are more submissive, women who are in charge.
The Arabic world was very interesting in the 1920s to '60s: there was something booming culturally, and I found my culture very desirable when I listened to these songs.
Back in Kuwait, I had started listening to a lot of English language music: western music, I would say - Kate Bush and Radiohead - and I loved Chet Baker, Etna James, a lot of singers and a lot of bands.
You do not start by working on society; you start by yourself to be a freer person and a more independent person.
When I go to Beirut, I don't drive. It's traumatizing to drive there.
I have a sense of mission in a way. I've always worked on being free, as a woman and as an artist.
I'm bored, normally, when I travel.
It's interesting to be at once an insider and outsider. It's a way of learning how to find your way freely without the need of conforming or belonging.
Imagine a singer with the virtuosity of Joan Sutherland or Ella Fitzgerald, the public persona of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the audience of Elvis, and you have Umm Kulthum.
With Soapkills, we were lucky. We started at a time of transition where things were not ready, nothing was available.
When the public doesn't understand me, it's a battle. So when I choose words, I choose them for their musicality, rhythm, and sense, and I choose the right dialect to express that.
I don't relate to what is seen as 'Arab culture.' I relate to what I explore myself, what is around me.
I met Jim Jarmusch when I started recording my album 'Ya Nass.' He was writing the script for 'Only Lovers Left Alive.' Jarmusch was always a great inspiration to me, way before meeting him. Working with him was fantastic.
My father is an engineer, and my mother raised the three children.
I am interested in exploring encounters where worlds meet and not where they separate.
We all have femininity in us.
I've always fought any form of censorship.
If you have a drummer who alternates between fast and slow drumming, it can negatively affect the music.
I had an Arabic background. but I lived a very scattered childhood. I didn't belong to any one culture, which meant I didn't have musical geographies in my head.
Faith is a very intimate process that involves being sincere and truthful to a spiritual presence.
I had the urge to face my own limitation, and I needed to be bigger. I needed to be more professional and be in a more competitive environment because I wanted to grow as an artist. That's why I went to Europe.
World music can be sometimes like the lumber room in which all the non-English singers are dumped. When you are singing in Arabic, no matter what your style of music or artistic proposition is, you are faced with some of that reality.
I have learned to create from a hybridized point of view. It's an asset - something rather liberating.
There should be no borders, race, colours, or ethnical considerations when it comes to music and creativity.
Because of the Lebanese civil war, I had a scattered childhood. I had to build my own connections to each country we moved to.
All of the Arabic women I grew up listening to or watching had a very strong character.
I always had this crisis: where do I come from? I was never an insider, never an outsider; I was always in the middle. But it means I never have borders in my head.
I sing 'Beirut' for what the city is for me, but I am also singing as an exile.
My family played a part in bringing communism to Lebanon.
I love Khaliji music; it's very inspiring.
When it comes to the lyrics, I write about my own perception of things and use characters for that.
There is something spiritual about art that connects us with ourselves and with others; it's really about coming together and creating bridges.
For me, a taxi is like a public space because so many people get in that space.
Women are a minority the same way gay people are.
The Arabic music I listen to is extremely edgy. Ironic, sarcastic, sensual, erotic.
I'm Muslim but not really. My family did not care. And I always managed to skip religion classes when I was living in the Gulf, even when they were obligatory.
Every time I go to Beirut, I see people and the quality of life going slowly from bad to worse, and from worse to even worse.
Change means resistance, and resistance means transformation and igniting energies.
When I imagine feminine characters in my songs, they're often bold, strong, passionate, militant, witty, sensual, dangerous. I see those characters as skillful witnesses, figures of change and awakening.
Music liberated me.
A lot of Arabic composers such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab mixed sounds and instruments from all over the world. It's important to be able to propose new ways and new sounds without being stigmatised, censored or put aside.
It's normal; Arab women have always been very active at the forefront of culture - as film producers since the 1920s; as singers, dancers, choreographers, writers for much longer than that.
Maybe I was blessed that my main drive was purely selfish. I needed to make something, make my life better, wider, have poetry in my life, have something that gives me hope on an everyday basis. That was my main drive all along, really.
When I started, I didn't know how to sing in Arabic - it's a very complex and sophisticated music full of codes and modes and quarter-tones.