Grammy-winner Arooj Aftab turns producer for American-Indian singer-songwriter Sheherazaad’s new tune Dhund Lo Mujhe


Lyrically, American-Indian musician Sheherazaad weaves a visible mosaic of what she calls “this circus of the insane, carnival of the sad” within the sophomore observe of her upcoming mini-album Qasr.

Musically, dramatic percussion, draped in reedy timbres of violin, chase Sheherazaad’s hauntingly intense vocals. “It suggests a really particular madness — that of the immigrant expertise. Nuances vary from non secular battle, homicide, sexual liberation, and past. The speaker who’s descending into insanity declares herself to be ‘this nation’s loopy queen’. It’s the concept of a girl being the poster little one of a wholesome India. In ‘Dhund Lo Mujhe’, you get a glimpse into her very unwell thoughts,” says the artiste from Northern California.

Produced by Grammy-winning Pakistani singer-composer Arooj Aftab, the tune is among the many album’s 5 melodies being launched underneath unbiased document label Erased Tapes. The primary one, titled ‘Mashoor’, was belted out final yr. It explored the frailty of fame. This one expands on the mannequin minority delusion — a reference to the stereotyping of American minority teams, notably these from Asia, as profitable and well-adjusted, demonstrating no or no need for social or financial help. “Maybe there was an aspiration to create a type of neo-folklore that strips down mythology which has been imposed upon my individuals. ‘Dhund Lo Mujhe has threads of this,”shares Sheherazaad.

Linguistically, the album’s alternative-folk ballads are stitched with Urdu and Hindi.Sheherazaad, who shares her disenchantment with English as an emotive language after encountering British colonial historical past, admits to a disorientation ensuing from lengthy stays in India, the place having a combined North and South Indian heritage sophisticated her expertise of identification and created a fracture in her recognized approach of vocal expression. “I began to really feel too American in a single place and too Indian within the different. Singing in English felt phony, however trying a conventional South Asian repertoire felt fraudulent too. It’s like I fell by means of the cracks; the cracks I’d ultimately make my dwelling,” she says.

Paintings of the album Qasr
| Photograph Credit score:
Particular Association

Born in what she describes a “fanatically art-centred, Asian-American family”, Sheherazaad absorbed the life portfolios of Lata Mangeshkar and RD Burman, whereas starting formal voice training in jazz and American Songbook from the age of six. She later skilled with Hindustani classical guru Madhuvanti Bhide, and studied Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu within the late 2010s.

In 2020, she self-released underground challenge Khwaabistan, which garnered assist from Arooj, however has been taken all the way down to be re-released in future, and planted the seeds for Qasr. “Qasr was engendered throughout a time of household estrangement, grief over a misplaced elder and the racial polarisation of my nation as I knew it. Arooj truly named the challenge, which I felt becoming. Translating to ‘fort’ or ‘fortress’ in Urdu, Qasr grew to become a monumentlike encapsulation of the actual strains of displacement, the push and pull of diaspora, and the depravity of erasure and forgotten roots. But in addition it grew to become an intangible dwelling, a private fortress throughout a time of personal-political upheaval,” she explains.

‘Dhund Lo Mujhe’ was born out of Sheherazaad’s go to to India throughout Covid, when her paternal grandfather was dying. “Initially, I’d developed a easy piano association with vocals, the place we then recorded some stay, livid strings that didn’t fairly match. Runar, my colleague in Oslo, took over strings after Arooj had lent new perception right into a extra tentative, playful, sparser string association. Then we added percussive parts as the entire thing took off, and topped it with Basma Edrees’s violin, which grew to become a co-lead character together with vocals in my thoughts. I preferred ‘Oh Sakhi’ as a binding lyrical phrase, as a result of there’s this colloquial really feel to it. The piece absorbed phrases in Bhojpuri and different Benarasi imagery, a present of being immersed in Varanasi whereas composing,” she provides.


| Photograph Credit score:
Zayira Ray

The need to interrupt away and create a extra radical, queer dreamscapepropelled the concept to undertake an artiste identify. “Scheherazade (as generally spelled within the West) has been my favorite character since childhood for her ferocious storytelling capability that saves lives. Additionally, in Hindi and Urdu, Sheherazaad interprets to ‘free metropolis’. I really like the concept of an individual, particularly a girl, being a ‘metropolis’ entity in and of themselves,” she says.

When requested about how she feels to be an Indian-American musician, she says, “It’s fairly lonely generally, until you discover tribespeople, as I wish to name them. It’s like wandering into unchartered waters. You see people who find themselves doing glimmers of what you do, however you don’t fully know the place you’re going or why. There are these large forces pushing and pulling you in a number of totally different instructions. Generally, you go together with the tide and generally you combat towards it like hell.”

Qasr will likely be launched on all music platforms on March 1.

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