JEMINA’s songwriting is indisputably good. Makes you wonder the reason why so many genius talents labor in obscurity, while so many hacks get the attention. Make sure to listen to her full catalog.
Read our discussion with the artist below!
Describe your sound in three words
Plural, organized capharnaum
The melody in Rising Sun was for us love at first sound. Tell us a few things about it. What is the main idea behind it?
I wanted to paint a sunrise sonically.
In order to do so this song has different distinct sections: there is the main melody which is a jazz ballad, this would be the stage of sunrise known as nautical twilight, but then the energy is expanding until a big scream and the rhythm section turns from jazz to metal sonorities, which would translate in our picture onto going from civil twilight into sunrise.
I’m also fascinated by how humans are a perpetual movement. So much potential to be unleashed in each one of us. I like to think about our personal growth as little rising suns so there’s a bit of that too I guess. This idea also lead to having this song, as for most of my music, featuring a blend of different genres and influences. If I want to represent movement or growth I feel like my music can’t be static.
You love writing cross cultural music. How well and in what ways do you think, should someone know a foreign culture to do them justice when incorporating its elements in their work?
Of course you have to put in the work if you want to include any music from any cultures in your craft. I think there is the obvious work which would be studying the pioneers of that music, its rhythms, harmonies, scales and then there’s the history of that music, how has it impacted our society, how its writers have often served as agent of change. I’m thinking about jazz music and its intrinsic relationship to political and social change and freedom. When you know the history of that music you gain a new understanding of what Max Roach, Billie Holliday and even jazz artists of today are saying throughout their art.
It also gives us some prospective on our role as artists.
Now my passion for cross cultural music also probably stands from my background. I am Franco-Algeryan and have been living in the US for almost six years, meaning I’ve had the chance to be exposed to so much music from a young age (North African folklore, French chanson, jazz) but also to many different cultures and people. And people are at the central part of music.
In all of my projects there is the writing part and then another one, which is the interaction with the musicians playing on that tune/record.
What is interesting to me musically is the human factor, the musical encounter between a Franco-Algeryan woman, a Brazilian drummer, Israeli bassist and German trumpet player. Each of us speak the same language (music) but with different words perhaps and what results from this can be many great surprises!
So when incorporating elements of another music in our work I think the most important thing for me has been to listen. When producing a song I always try to listen to what each musician has to say musically. Their stories is theirs to tell, not mine. I guess that’s how a lot of music was born (listening). There is so much similarities between North African folklore, flamenco, balkan music, Russian traditional songs. I’m fascinated by folklore from different countries and seeing how, although they have different codes, their essence is the same.
While listening to your catalog, I feel it has an Aziza Mustafa Zadeh touch. Could you name the artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?
I discovered Aziza Mustafa Zadeh quite recently and absolutely love her music. Tigran Hamaysan has been a big influence as well as Bjork, System Of a Down or Steve Reich. Another big influence has been my environment: New York and its cars honking. People in the subway. Central Park. There’s always something to inspire you here. Steve Reich transcribed it so well with “City Life”.
Is language a barrier in music?
I have been playing with musicians whom language I do not speak and had the best musical conversations.
Does music breaks down the barriers of language?
Perhaps it the only language understood by us all?
What are the good and the bads of being a DIY artist that you’ve identified so far?
Greatest thing is definitely the artistic freedom you have, creating whichever music, whenever you want to.
The bad ones would be having to wear all the hats and that means once the music is done still having to promote it, being your own manager, being your own publicist etc. I know that thanks to technology a lot of those things have been made way easier but for people like me that consider themselves allergic to screens it’s definitely been a challenge!
Tell us a melody you wish you have composed yourself
“Joga” by Bjork. Such a beautiful melody and the string arrangement on her BBC live version is absolutely stunning!
Which book should we read while listening to your music?
The Neopolitan Novels (all four!) by Elena Ferrante!
Follow our Spotify Playlist “Reinvented Eclectic” feat. JEMINA