Yasmine Hamdan was born in Beirut. Having spent part of her life in Gulf countries and Greece, she returns to Lebanon in 1990 to finish high school and start psychology studies, earning a BA in 1998. In the same year, she forms the first indie underground arabic speaking group "Soapkills" along with Zeid Hamdan. Between 1998 and 2005, Soap kills released 4 albums including a Live recording. Her encounter in 2005 with Mirwais Ahmadzaï, the electronic music producer who composed Madonna’s album “Music”, results in the birth of Y.A.S. In 2009 the “Arabology” album is released by Universal Music. Yasmine is releasing her first solo album, produced by Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague) on Mai 21st 2012.
Where are you currently living ?
Paris, but I travel a lot.
How do you find the music scene there and is there interest for the type of music you are creating?
The musical scene is quite interesting. We have a lot of performances/concerts from local/international bands and it’s quite common to have someone you dream of hearing perform come to Paris. It does take time to find your way around when you’re not a “local”, when you don’t know how things function here. But I feel I have been very lucky.
Do you feel any inhibitions mainly using Arabic lyrics to get noticed in the music world, or are you more or less where you want to be as an artist?
The music industry has this habit of placing artists into categories. And when you don’t fit into a category, you’re counter-current. It’s hard for people in the industry to have a vision of how they’ll promote your work or define your music. They need to put you in a ‘conservative’ box/title/image. The current common term for Arabic music (Salsa, Spanish, Ethiopian, Caribbean etc.) is ‘world music’. I always thought that this term was quite discriminating, racist even. It’s a ragbag of every thing that is not “anglo-saxon” or local (French). This attitude makes me furious. I don’t think any artist should be classified by race or colour. It does make it very thrilling though to come across people with the same desire as you for change. I have been consistently fighting these issues and the people I collaborate with have the same approach.
Do you find an aesthetic quality in language, and was that a determining factor in using Arabic lyrics with modern songwriting? Or was it much more instinctive than that?
My work is very much related to my sense of identity. It’s natural for me to sing in Arabic, and to mix several dialects. It’s my background. I was brought up in several Arab countries, including Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi. I grew up listening to Arabic music from all over the place and watching old Egyptian movies or Kuwaiti comedies. I relate and identify to all these cultures, and I am in love with the Arabic old music.
What do you hope to achieve, and why do you write the music and the lyrics you do?
I don’t know if I look at it that way that I need to do what I’m doing. It’s a daily motivation. I like to be thrilled by experimenting, it adds a very important element to composing, singing, writing and performing. I like to have fun and not worry about rules. I choose mine! I care about being a free artist, and as free as I can be as a person.
Over the years and taking into account the various groups and artists you have made music with, what has been your best experience so far?
It’s always very subjective but every collaboration gave me something invaluable. In each one I had a different experience, and I was a different person. It is very enjoyable to be working with musicians but it puts you in a very emotional place that you have to deal with. Chemistry is not always the rule. Sometimes projects develop in a tensed confrontational relationship. That’s how things can be. Frustration and pleasure are both part of the game. But in each case you learn a lot about yourself, and about the person in front of you. My last experience with Marc Collin has been very enjoyable. He was really cool and open-minded . He trusted me, followed my intuitions, proposed genuine solutions and was really inspired. We had fun for a couple of months in his studio. And I absolutely love what we did together. I directed it entirely according to my desires and we made this happen together. It’s great when there is chemistry, it makes more sense!
What are your aspirations as of now? Where are you looking to be in the years to come?
Difficult for me to plan what I am doing next week! I’ll continue my way, I guess. I have to trust myself and be receptive. And eventually calm down.
(Source : http://www.brownbook.me)
Y.A.S – Arabology
Y.A.S. is the first international electro project that places arabic language at the center of pop culture. YAS is Mirwais Ahmadzai and Yasmine Hamdan. Leading the project is Mirwais [who has] been rated among the five greatest contemporary producers (alongside Timbaland and Dr Dre) by Esquire Magazine. (...) [P]late Tectonics called YAS revolutionize the world's geo-cultural order; it's now between Kabul, Beirut and Paris that it's happening. A new crusade of liberation: Electro Kasbah!
01 - Arabology02 - Get It Right
03 - Yaspop
04 - Oloulou
05 - Da
06 - Azza
07 - Coit Me
08 - Ma Rida
09 - Gamil
10 - Fax
11 - Mahi
12 - A Man
13 - Get It Right
Yasmine Hamdan (2012)
01. In Kan Fouadi (3:46)
02. Beirut (3:31)
03. Samar (3:27)
04. Baaden (3:25)
05. Ya Nass (3:14)
06. Irss (2:38)
07. Nediya (3:53)
08. Nag (3:40)
09. Shouei (3:33)
10. La Mouch (3:31)
11. Bala Tantanat (3:57)