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N3rdistan In Meknes: A Concert To Be Remembered

It all started when a friend of mine sent me a picture of the concert’s poster. I was already bummed for not being able to go to L’Boulevard, specially that I really wanted to see the likes of JadaL and Betweenatna. As soon as I saw who’s coming to play, I had a rush of excitement just like a kid in a candy store. Not surprisingly, people came from all over Meknes to be there. The French Institution’s Theater barely held the number of fans who came to see the band. And let me tell you, they had a reason for flooding it. The concert was pure awesome. Even people who didn’t know who they were listening to  finished the concert screaming: N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN…

The band started with a Nizar Qabbani inspired track, it was almost like Walead was reciting poetry in the most artistic manner you could possibly imagine, when everyone thought that was it, the beat started and the crowd went wild when a more rap-y version of the poem  emerged from the band’s amplifiers.
The next two tracks were also from what I’d call ‘The Gods of Arabic Poetry’, Ahmed Matar and Gibran Khalil Gibran. When I asked the band about the reason why they chose to take their lyrics from such great poets, they responded by: These poets are the same ones who gave our forefathers the strength to  change their communities. These pieces of poetry are still relevant today, for example, Irhalo by Ahmed Matar or  Hawaamish ‘Ala Daftar An-Naksa by Nizar Qabbani are basically the unofficial anthems of the Arab Spring. It really comes natural to us to take inspiration from them.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

Next thing on their playlist for us was The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale by Al-Asma’i. The witty lyrics and the combination of Walead and Houda, AKA T Queen, rapping their way through one of the most twisted pieces of Arabic poetry ever written, accompanied by a sick drummer is way beyond anything I’ve seen in awhile. It kinda reminded me of their weird name, N3rdistan.  When I asked Walead where did the name really come from, he took it very humorously and stated: Well, i was walking one day, at about 6:45 (Sebâa L’lareb was his actual description) and I saw an N and an S, somehow along the way, that turned into N3rdistan, and here we are today, playing in Meknes.

After a couple more tracks, the band hit us with what Walead calls ‘Eletro 9bi7‘.  It was an over-compressed mixture of Drum&Bass and Rock, plus some sampled voice covers called Occupy. When questioned about how they categorize themselves in terms of genre, the band haven’t really much to say: We call it N3edistan Haha. We don’t really follow certain parameters or a certain genre. If we liked a beat or a combination of strings, we’ll go along with it. I, myself, had some past experience with Rap, Metal and Electro, other members like African Music, Reggae, Drum&Bass and so on. We really just try to merge everything together and come up with something that we like.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

After that ‘Eletro L9bi7‘, things settled down a bit with a clearly political track that was, and I quote: A message to every political institution out there. The track Mirage Policy (Siyassat Sarab) is a full-on rage attack on every political figure I could think of. Talking to the band, they said jokingly : Well, the only place that isn’t really concerned about this track is N3rdistan itself Hahah. but seriously, it’s a message to every political institution out there, in and outside of Morocco. We do not support any political figure or entity, as by definition, they stand by everything we fight against.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

At The end of the concert, the crowd went all crazy and begged for a another track. ‘Encore, encore, encore…’ everyone screamed. the band complied and they sang The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale again. The track didn’t loose its charm one bit.
When Walead was introducing the band members, the multi instrumentalist  took the mic and told us that it’s Walead’s birthday. To his surprise, no one got out of the theater till they sang happy birthday, his reaction was PRICELESS to say the least.

I did catch up with the band after the show, like I’ve mentioned before, and they happily answered everything I had to ask. Besides from the answers above, we had this mini conversation.

OM: How was the concert? did you like the crowd?
N3rdistan: It was one of the most energetic gigs we had in awhile, the crowd was insane and responsive and that’s the way we like it.

OM: Are you planning on coming back anytime soon?
N3rdistan: We hope so, we liked the crowd and the whole thing was just a bless.

OM: let’s talk about you guys for a bit, when did the band, in it’s current form, start?
N3rdistan: In 2014, we just got together and started making music. (Houda’s speaking now) I just saw a lighted room with good music coming out of it and came in Haha.  I got in after the idea was already formed by Walead and here we are.

OM: Speaking of making music, what’s the typical studio day for N3rdistan?
N3rdistan: We just hang out there, brainstorming till something comes up.

OM: Do you guys have any albums or tracks coming out soon?
N3rdistan: Yeah, We have a 4 tracks  EP coming out in October, and an album coming out in 2016.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

Undoubtedly, The concert was one of the best I’ve been to and the band is just amazing and down to earth. Hopefully we’ll see them soon at Visa For Music.

AURORA: A Young Emerging Artist.

Aurora‘s talent in writing and singing are as obvious as her young age. This up-and-coming artist has already established her fanbase, which is basically everyone who listens, listened or will listen to her. As soon as one listens to one of her tracks, falling in love with her is just an action waiting to happen. Her dark interpretation of music and her heavily meaningful lyrics will compile  anyone to bookmark her name in their emerging artists chart.
I’ve got a hold of Aurora to ask her a few question about pretty much anything I could think of, and she happily and calmly answered every single one with as much passion as she usually spends is her performances. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you, AURORA.

VM: Hi Aurora and thank you for the interview, We would like to know more about you. Tell us who Aurora Aksnes  really is.
AURORA: Well. My name is Aurora, I live in Norway, a few hours from Bergen. I’ve been writing songs since I was 9, I love to tell stories.

VM: What got you into music? did you want to be a singer your whole life?
AURORA: I didn’t want to be a singer, and even now I considered myself more a musician and a storyteller than a singer. I’ve loved writing songs since I was 9, mostly for myself. I didn’t really want to be on a stage… I just needed to write songs. And then MADE management found me, and here I am.

I considered myself more a musician and a storyteller than a singer.

VM: In other interviews, you’ve pointed out that you’ve been playing piano since a very young age and fell in love with it. who or what pushed you to learn how to play it?
AURORA: my older sister used to play piano – before she stopped. And that was when I started to play. nothing pushed me to learn it. I think that is the reason why I love it so much. My parents never pushed me into doing anything. But they supported me. I think I just loved the sound of it so much that I just kept playing.

VM: What is the typical studio day for Aurora?
AURORA: Well, it depends! Every day is quite different actually! But music is always being created, and it’s wonderful. I really love being in the studio.

VM: Concerning your songs, you go from the romantic but uniquely unusual ‘In Boxes’ to the very artistically lyrics-ed ‘Runaway’. do you think there is any different between the two? how would you describe each one?
AURORA: Well, I think all of my songs have a certain darkness to them. And of course they are different! All my songs are different stories, and they deserve to have their own style. In boxes is a bit more morbid and creepy, and runaway is more longing.

VM: Your latest single ‘Murder Song’ just came out, and I have to say the acoustic version is one of my favorite songss by you. The lyrics are moving and it looks like there is a story behind it. would you care to give us a little insight on how the song came into existence?
AURORA: I wrote it one year ago, I can’t remember how it happened, but I remember it happened very fast. It was meant to be written!

VM: Your Discogs page describes your music as Pop, We like to believe that it’s a more of an acoustic version of Indie Rock. how would you describe it?
AURORA: Dark art pop.

VM: Where did you perform your first live show and how did it go? Do you have any future plans to perform here, in Morocco?
AURORA: The first real show with a band I did in Bergen – February 2014! It was very scary. That’s the thing I remember the most about it. and I don’t know yet – but I think one day I will come to Morocco and play!

VM: What are your plans for the near future? What can we expect from you?
AURORA: I’m finishing my first album, it will be released in the beginning of next year, I’m super excited.

VM: Give us an interesting fun fact or a weird incident that happened to you while you were performing live.
AURORA: Well, it’s hard to remember, weird things often happens on stage!!!! I sometime forget the lyrics, and one time I think I swallowed a tiny fly while singing ‘awakening’. That was quite weird.

VM: Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans or simply for the people who wanna discover your music?
AURORA: Well, I want my fans to know that I love them! I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without them! They are being so nice to me. And for the people who haven’t discovered me yet – if you like emotional music, you’ve come to the right place. I have lots of stories to tell.

To hear more from Aurora, be sure to check out her Spotify or Soundcloud.

A special thank you to AURORA’s PR team for facilitating this interview, especially Helga Luedy.



5 reasons to listen to indie Korean Hip Hop

My last article was a list. This one too is a list. I think I’m starting to develop an MO (yes, like a serial killer. I’m a serial writer. God, my puns can be awful.)

All those who know me will tell you:  I have always been obsessed with Asian culture. Probably because I’ve been watching anime since I was a child (or just because I’m into really weird shit. I mean, have you ever seen a Japanese commercial? I think they’re being made by LSD users, that’s the only logical explanation), but Japanese and Korean culture were a huge influence in my life (yeah, that’s why I’m such a hard worker. HA HA HA!). One of my favourite music styles is Korean Hip Hop. Yes, I already hear your offended snorts. Like one of my friends told me (in a rather racist manner, but let’s forget about that, shall we?): “How can an Asian rap?”  Well, let me tell you something (and please don’t lynch me, I still want to live): Rap, Hip Hop and RN’B aren’t just for Afro-Americans, and I have here examples of Korean artists who will blow you effin’ mind away!

1. MFBTY with Bang Diggy Bang Bang

This project is a collaboration between legendary Korean rapper Tiger JK, his wife, the Korean-American singer and rapper Tasha (also known as Yoonmirae) and the young Korean talent Bizzy. Their music is funky, fun and most of all, unique. I invite you to check out my personal favourite song, Bang Diggy Bang Bang (I know, the name sounds weird, but it’s worth it!!)

2. Beenzino with Dali Van Picasso

Beenzino is the first independent Korean rapper I’ve listened to. I have immediately fallen in love with his music. Even though he’s still considered a rookie in the Korean Hip Hop scene, he gained recognition quickly and collaborated with some of the biggest names of Korean Rap.

3. Verbal Jint with Doin’ it

Verbal Jint debuted in 2001 and became famous for his groundbreaking innovations in the Korean Hip Hop scene. He was the first artist to introduce rhyme schemes in Korean rap. What is more astonishing is that he was also able to achieve mainstream success and become as well known as Kpop idols.

4. Primary with Meet

Not only a musician, but also one of the most influential music producers in Korea, Primary, known for his cardboard box mask with a bird beak and his batshit crazy talent, has collaborated with many Korean talents. Check out his song Meet, featuring Zion T., one of my personal favorite Korean RN’B singers.

5. The Quiett with Livin’ In The Dream

Producer ,rapper and co-CEO of the independent Illionaire Records, The Quiett has become famous thank to his unique rapping flow and his collaboration with Korea’s biggest names such as Jay Park and Tiger JK.

Indie Music: The Blurred Lines Genre.

Most of us music lovers have listened to Indie music and haven’t even realized it. The genre is so broad and its lines are so blurry that we can put The Beatles and Iron & Wine under the same roof. (I know, that’s almost unacceptable, for BOTH parties.) By its own definition, the genre is basically unboundable. There is just no way one can know for sure what to look for when it comes to this relatively new genre. Continue reading “Indie Music: The Blurred Lines Genre.” »

Pink Floyd, An End That We Cannot Cope With

This is the news that we knew will eventually happen but deep down inside, could not accept. Pink Floyd’s frontman and guitarist announced in an interview with Classic Rock Magazine that the band is officially “done”. He added “I’ve had 48 years in Pink Floyd – quite a few of those years at the beginning, with Roger [Waters]. And those years in what is now considered to be our heyday were 95% musically fulfilling and joyous and full of fun and laughter. I certainly don’t want to let the other 5% colour my view of what was a long and fantastic time together. But it has run its course, we are done – and it would be fakery to go back and do it again.

Ever since Roger Waters departed in 1985, Pink Floyd started falling apart.  Nonetheless, David Gilmour continued the legacy of the band without the former bassist and released ground-breaking albums along with the remaining members, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.

Last year, Gilmour and Mason released the final Pink Floyd album, a follow-up to « The Division bell » released in 1994. The album included unreleased music and lyrics composed by Rick Wright prior to his death and during The Division Bell‘s recording sessions. Last year’s « The Endless River » served as a farewell and a finish line for a band that completely shaped and altered the Rock scene.

As a commemoration, I decided to share one song from each Pink Floyd album that defined the whole band and put a stamp on the rock scene.

The Piper At the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Astronomy Domine, Pink Floyd’s first song on their debut album, proved the late Syd Barrett’s genius and gave a new essence to Psychedelic Rock.

A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968) 

The first three albums achieved international claim with their psychedelic and progressive rock style. See-Saw from « A Saucerful Of Secrets » is definitely on the list.

Ummagumma (1969)

This is the first album to exclude Syd Barrett. It also included a couple of songs from the previous two records. However, one that defined the album as a whole would be « Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict ». Long title, worth a listen.

Atom Heart Mother (1970)

« Atom Heart Mother: Father’s Shout/Breast Milky/Mother Fore/Funky Dung/Mind Yo… » is an outstanding track that shows how the four remaining members composed an orchestra-like rock song.  a 23-minute suite that you should listen to in one go.

Meddle (1971)

This is album that is quite similar to the band’s debut album in terms of song structure. The highlight of this record is « Echoes », another 23-minute suite packed with beautiful lyrics.

Obscured by Clouds (1972) 

The title track « Obscured by Clouds » is definitely one of the highlights of the album, one that yet again goes back to the band’s late 60’s roots.

The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)

Considered the peak of Pink Floyd, this album contains songs that completely changed the public’s perceptions on Rock as a genre. Although every single track should be on this list, i cannot help but choose « Time » as the best song on the album. It’s even better live!

Animals (1977) 

My personal favorite album. One that looks back at George Orwell’s Animal Farm and reflects upon the society’s classes. The track « Dogs »  is certainly the best on the record.

The Wall (1979)

Even Though The Dark Side of The Moon was a revolutionary album. Pink Floyd’s The Wall is considered their masterpiece and their best album ever. The record shows Roger Waters’ Genius and his ability of writing lyrics that revolt against society’s biggest issues. The song « Comfortably Numb »   is on this list. Beautiful guitar solo by David Gilmour.

The Final Cut (1983) 

This is Roger Waters last album with the band, and as much as it is a solo album, I still considered it a Pink Floyd album. The standout track on this record is « Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert ». Although short, it’s a wonderful acoustic song that yet again speaks about world problems.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) 

This album marked the decline of Pink Floyd, with the departure of significant members, Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. Nevertheless, David Gilmour and the remaining members did put out a significant album that still has that Pink Floyd signature sound. « Learning to Fly » is one of the best tracks on this record.

The Division Bell (1994) 

A strong record that shows the band’s new sound and one that moves away from their psychedelic roots. This is also the last album to include the keyboardist Richard Wright. As a way to commemorate his passing, I choose « Wearing the Inside Out » as the best track on this record.

The Endless River (2014)

20 years after The Division Bell, David Gilmour and Nick mason decided to release a final album. Although it mostly consists of instrumentals, the record is an outstanding set of tracks reminiscent of songs from The Division Bell era. The best track is the only song with lyrics, « Louder than Words ». 

Hiatus Kaiyote: Multi-Dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangster Shit.

Amongst the musical discoveries I’ve made this year, I created a special bond with a particular one; from Melbourne, Australia comes Hiatus Kaiyote. A neo-soul quartet freshly started in 2011, but brought to music something new and futuristic. Founded by bassist Paul Bender, singer -and a special kind of- guitarist Nai Palm, quickly joined by Perrin Moss (drums) and Simon Mavin (keyboard).

Most of the members were solo performers, Nai Palm for example used to compose complex songs on her own without much knowledge of music theory, making it hard for her to put a band together. Luckily, Bender discovered her talent in one of her gigs, he was so impressed by the performance that he had to propose the idea of a band. Nai Palm wasn’t convinced enough and refused at first, and it was until a year later that they met again by chance and that time, the course of music history took a little turn.
There’s no ressource on what the idea behind their name means; Hiatus means ‘a break or interruption in the continuity of a work’, Kaiyote sounds like coyote… but that’s just me. And « Multi-Dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangster Shit » is funnily the band’s way of describing their work, it’s just a random phrase they came up with on a road trip, yet it is so strangely fitting.

A huge part of the inspiration I got from this band’s music comes from Nai Palm and the way she transmits her messages,  and you will soon know why, maybe you’ll become hooked too. (Just kidding there’s no `maybe`)

Time to bias you, plug-in your earphones or boost up your speakers, and listen as you read through the rest.

Arose a Rose

Before I talk about the musical aspect of the band, I want to introduce you to Nai Palm, who -for me- is Hiatus Kaiyote‘s emblem. Her liberty of self-expression is one of her strongest characteristics, and she adds a very philosophical pinch to her music.

« To be completely honest, the roots of most creative expression is birthed through pain. It’s usually from the need to process something fucked up or unbalanced within myself. Working it out and then sharing it with people so that they might gain perspective for themselves, or something astoundingly beautiful that shakes me to my core and I need to connect to it through creation. There’s no set formula. Inspiration is intangible and elusive. »

In a recent interview1, Nai Palm discusses her creative process and what helps her trigger it; a chunk of peruvian Palo Santo wood that she occasionally sets ablaze with a lighter, Charlie -her parrot and good friend-, and a very interestingly looking Buran mask from Indonesia. Mysticism and bohemian behaviour give a unique aura to her person, emphasised on with the bizarre outfits, exotic earrings, and a badass hairstyle.
Nai Palm’s vocal game is on point, she has so much control over her voice, yet is so adventurous with it and isn’t content with only singing lyrics, humming and oscillating from alto to soprano never sounded better. She gracefully slaps her orange jazz guitar to make the cleanest sounds, creativity and energy make up the core of her playstyle, so much groove that the music often falls between hip-hop/funk/jazz. If there is one word I could describe this artist with, it would be: Ballsy.

Nai Palm definitely stands out in today’s music scene as a singer, songwriter, and performer. She’s the blossoming rose that will mark the name « Hiatus Kaiyote » on music’s history.

Nai Palm
Nai Palm

Tawk Tomahawk (2012)

The first album recorded by the band was a big success, they fused jazz, hip-hop, and more musical flavours under the « neo soul » genre, and they did it in a pretty amazing way. In 2013 they were nominated for a grammy award as Best R&B Performance for their song « Nakamarra » performed with American rapper Q-Tip, but had lost to yet another promising band; Snarky Puppy (which I’ll surely write about in the near future) recording « Something »2 with Lalah Hathaway.

The album is composed of 10 songs, although the playstyle differs from one to another, that « Hiatus Kaiyote » stamp is strongly present through the whole album. Keyboards come out huge  in the band’s musical process; Simon Mavin does a great job of setting the mood for the songs and gives the rest of the band room to freestyle, with adaptation to the core idea of their music of course. The percussions in almost every song are complex and inherit their time signatures from jazz and latino.
I found this album kind of « experimental » and that’s what I like about it the most, a four-piece of music fanatics gathering together, not afraid to try new things out and make the world puke rainbows.

After the grammy nomination, they were invited to take part of a series called ‘Chronicles’3 made by Red Bull Music Academy & Boiler Room, it’s an artist-curated series of documentaries and events that tell the stories of Australia’s most innovative artists. They acquired a lot of renown and their name quickly got widespread, they knew how to capture attention and set a path for themselves.

Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Although Tawk Tomahawk was a well received album and had some great jams, it leaves you with a feeling that the music wasn’t fully developped; most songs are under two minutes and there’s a lot of experimenting done, but what this meant is that HK were only readying themselves and the public for what is to come.
In May 2015, they returned with something more musically mature when they produced and released their second studio album intitled « Choose Your Weapon » independantly through their record label « Flying Buddha« . It comprises 18 songs and lasts for almost 70 minutes, which is double the duration of their first album. Nai Palm describes « Choose Your Weapon » as an extension to the debut, with more she also stated she and the band had no intention to make a one genre body of work, but rather style and format the album like a mixtape by throwing in some interludes.

« Choose Your Weapon » doesn’t shy away from going all the way and really grinding out some impressive rhythms and unique sounds. Nai Palm stepped up her poetry and wrote lyrics touching upon themes of supernatural topics, technological subjects and death. In addition to writing all of the album’s songs, she was the designer of its artwork. Overall, more dedication and authenticity were shown by Hiatus Kaiyote in this album, and they certainly made the public thirsty for more.

« Choose Your Weapon » is a call to -intellectual- arms, urging the listener to get hold of their own world and be true to their own expression, to select the good vibes that flow with one’s own, and to explore what triggers emotion in oneself.

External references:

1 – Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon with Nai Palm: Triggering Creativity
2 – Snarky Puppy feat. Lalah Hathaway – Something (Family Dinner – Volume One)
3 – RBMA X Boiler Room Chronicles 001