Kev caught up with local artist Samia Malik ahead of the release of her fourth album Songs to Heal & Empower, which is released on 9th June
Before we talk about the album, I would find like to find out more about your journey.
What was the impetus or drive that started your music career?
Music has always been a language in which I could explore ideas about life, identity and ponder deeper the questions, and quite simply, I have always LOVED singing!
I would imagine that the compilation of your tracks can be a difficult as well as liberating experience?
Ah yes, there are many technical issues that have to be tackled and logistical nightmares and black holes to fall into. I have to keep the final idea clear in my mind to get through the difficulties.
Also The words are based on my own personal experiences and feelings - I mean EVERY word, or have lived experience of the issues I explore. I hope that this is validating for listeners - knowing they not alone in experiencing those feelings.
It is not only performances of music that you provide to help women to express themselves, and find their voice, tell us about your workshops?
I run workshops in women’s groups including Southall Black Sisters in London, Angelou Centre in Newcastle and many others in between workshops, sharing my songs in Urdu and English, translating if necessary. As these songs are based on my own experiences of coming from a Pakistani, Muslim background, growing up as an immigrant in the UK, and about my personal journey to freedom, they may resonate particularly with these groups
Giving participants the skills and tools to begin writing their own words, in their own languages, in a safe and supported atmosphere, we may end by perhaps sharing some of the work produced. Often there will be a lively discussion about the issues and a talk about the future.
I believe these are open to all ages?
Yes from 2 to 122!
Is there enough help out there to help women freely express themselves?
We need as much support as possible - there are many cultural societal obstacles not just for women, especially from my culture of origin but for women in the mainstream and of course for men too.
On your first album ‘Colour of the Heart” and then “Azaadi”, these are clearly describing some of your strong feelings, how do you think this can help others?
If people see their experience mirrored in my words, my language and the content and context of my work, it may help to validate their own experiences. Conversely, those who are from a very different background from me who may learn about something new from my work. I hope my songs are a bridge, a connection. Certainly people from all kinds of backgrounds have said my words and music meant something to them - that makes it all worthwhile!
Imagery is important in your work and tours, it must take time to find or create the correct image?
Yes it really is important and yes it can take a LONG time!
As a graduate of NUA, with a Fine Arts Degree I would guess imagery will always be important to reinforce your work?
Yes, visual art has a language all of it's own and I use it deliberately and consciously to make my work more accessible to diverse audiences.
The Arts Council have been fundamental in enabling you to perform and run the workshops. What advice would you give to artists seeking Arts Council support?
Without Arts Council support this work would not exist. I am so deeply grateful to have had this affirmation and support and feel very privileged. I would say GO FOR IT. It's not easy ( I myself have not received funding for many projects but I have tried again) but it enables so much to be created. And public arts money should be to support us ALL to create new work. We need all our stories to be told and shared. Too much remains focused on a tiny minority.
Being bi-lingual a number of your tracks are in Urdu and English. May surprise you my Urdu is not very good, but it seems such an expressive language?
It is beautiful language as well as my mother tongue. Most of my songs are loosely based on the Ghazal form of rhyming couplets which can be set to music, though I really have taken many liberties with that form!
Now onto your latest Album.. Songs to Heal & Empower
There are 7 tracks and I will not deal with all of them but simply give my interpretation of what I listened to, (you can go to Samia’s blog to find out more from her).
Borrowed Body. This track is reflected in the cover and when I spoke to Samia she talked about how the body we have is what is given to us as is everything in that package. As I listened to the track I heard it as that role women can take in childbirth and the host and delivery of another human being into this world. And of course, if that new arrival is female, there is the chance that in turn their body can also be borrowed for another arrival
Like a Gift. I found this quite spiritual in the feeling of finding either a presence within your self or another source that enabled you to be cradled in times of trouble and stormy issues.
Planets Shift Encourages us to not be limited by the chains that bind us, but to realise that life is short and we should try to claim our destiny
Hur Turuf – All Around sung in Urdu and English, and it is just wonderful to hear both languages and the translation as much as is possible, as clearly some cultures have words hard to find the equivalent in another language. Again it is around feeling the presence in so many ways and things in everyday life.
Overview - There will always be sections of our society who are not able to believe that they can fully express themselves, and this album can hopefully help them on their journey towards self belief and discovery. If nothing else, perhaps give them escape from the cages that are created within their minds.
World Music is not a genre we review often, but I really enjoyed the calming influence and the encouragement for us all to find our own presence
Samia Commences her tour from 8th June and will appear at 9 venues during the year
Check her website samiamalik.com for more information
And to complete the package Janet Trewin went along to review the gig at Norwich Arts Centre
This review of Samia Malik’s latest show (now on tour) is going to be short. There are two obvious reasons for this.
Firstly, there are those of us who’ve seen Samia and her musicians before and don’t need telling that what we’ve just seen was, once again, uplifting, thought-provoking, breath-taking, visually artistic… The other reason for the short review is because the message to those who’ve not seen her is simple.
Get to one of her shows. You’ve clearly not been doing what you’ve been told!
OK . I relent. I’ll quickly tell you what you missed.
Her voice soars with certainty. Spot on. Political, feminist, Urdu , English, born of experience and a desire to spread the humanitarian word. With her is Sukhdeep Dhanjal - a tabla player of international talent…fingers flying, rhythms remarkable. I watched his face. He seemed in a zone of his own yet constantly locked to her voice and presentation. Sukhdeep teaches boys and girls this incredible skill. Can you imagine what an exciting lesson that would be?
And then there is the Natyapriya Dance Company, who were supporting Samia at the NAC gig (lucky us). The choreography is faultless. And if you don’t understand the movements or the music, you only have to watch their expressive faces.
Whoops! I’m in danger of reneging on that promise of a short review. Suffice it to say: Give yourself a treat. Don’t worry about entering into a world you aren’t used to, don’t belong to, don’t understand. Leave the western pop, jazz opera, rap – whatever your usual choice is - and dive into this treasure chest. Pull out the contents and see what you think. I’d be surprised if you didn’t feel it was well worth the effort.