As promised, here's the interview with Moroccan Pop artist "MANAL" , I truly appreciate her and I see huge things coming for her. Shout Out to the team at Sony Music Middle-East for hooking that up.
I truly loved her answers! read the full interview below!
BIG HASS: Young female artists do not represent the majority in the regional music scene. It's refreshing to see rising artists like yourself stepping in with a unique style. Do you feel like there is a big responsibility on your shoulders or shoes to fill?
MANAL: Yes. It’s important for women to be represented in the scene, to have their voices heard and their art appreciated and critiqued so I feel the responsibility to make great music, raise the game and show not only that we can do it but that we can do it as good or even better.
BH: Where have you found support? Who inspires you and who helped you pave your first steps into the industry?
MANAL: I find support from many people ranging from family and friends to colleague artists and my fans and general fans of music. I’m inspired by life itself. My art reflects my experiences in life, be they thoughts, situations, opinions, etc. That’s usually the first step towards a song for me. When converting that into music I find much inspiration in the people that work with me. My manager Cilvaringz would be first, we discuss pretty much everything from beginning till end together. Then studio time is set up with the Wa Drari Squad which consists of Shayfeen, Madd, Xcep, West, DaMost and producers Soufiane AZ and Yo Asel. That’s when the magic happens.
BH: A fusion of elements from different music styles. How would you describe your music style? Do you like being boxed into one category or do you think music is a large space for experimenting?
MANAL: I’m definitely in a space for experimenting. Being an artist, being creative means you should express yourself in multiple ways reflecting your mood, your message, the different diverse parts that define you. You can generally define me as Urban Pop. But if a certain issue arises one day which requires me to express it through death metal, I would definitely not mind doing it. I’m open to all the elements and have a broad range of musical tastes. It’s just that many people never knew this as I was directed more into one particular genre by my previous guidance. But it was the same people who also noticed I could do rap music.
BH: What does Hassan Hajjaj mean to you? & how important is his support?
MANAL: Hassan is a genius, an original free thinker who brings beauty, reflection and style. I met him through Cilvaringz and sometimes you just immediately click with a person. Hassan was one of those people. Such a warm person, truly love him and his support is one that I’m truly honoured by.
|Manal - Photo by Hassan Hajjaj|
BH: Women empowerment is a leading topic nowadays. From lifestyle, fashion to beauty and even music, how do you translate that need for women representation/recognition through your music and especially in your latest song "Taj". Describe the (feminist) themes you included in the recent video?
MANAL: In my recent video for TAJ there are three intertwined concepts. Lyrically, I’m speaking about a previous experience in the Arabic music industry that really left a scar on me. I’m not actually detailing the experiences but rather responding to them by telling the world that I will not again be told what to do or be what others will tell me to. That’s what I’m lyrically speaking on. Visually I really wanted to emphasize on two things. One, that women are capable, that we can do anything we put our minds to. That often it’s just society’s ideas of us that limit our imaginations but in reality women in Morocco and all over the world are taking charge of their lives, their destinies – they are taking up jobs traditionally thought of as men’s work- from being fire fighters to working in finance and government. This is about women making their own choices and not giving in to what may be expected of them. This is why you see me as a butcher, a car mechanic and a welder. People think it’s just cool visuals, but those are important shots with far more depth than just a shot. And secondly, in the wake of the #metoo movement, I wanted to highlight sexual harassment, something that unfortunately is still a lesser pressing issue in the Arab world. In the video my character is assaulted in a supermarket by a guy who touches her from behind and she reacts with outrage. The character then responds and shows that such type of men are nothing more but cowards. All these concepts make up TAJ.
BH: How do you feel about being signed to Sony?
MANAL: The greatest thing about being signed to Sony is working with the people there. It never was a major label thing for me. I was always resistant of signing to labels. But having spoken to the people there was far more important because we found a common ground on what situations work best for an artist like me to evolve. Creative freedom is highly important to me. I do not budge on it. And in the Arab world, it’s rarely given. Add to it that I’m experimental and not shy to address anything that comes to mind and you’ll have a mix for potential concern. But luckily I found in Sony Music ME a supportive group of amazing folks, and that’s what really did it for me and makes it great to be signed to them.
BH: The regional music scene needs to refreshed and nurtured. Many local artists and aspiring singers struggle to break through. So much talent and not much support. What would you advise them to do in a competitive music arena?
MANAL: I don’t really give advice in that sense. The only thing I want every artist to consider is to always be true to themselves. Never let the critics or general public or anyone for that matter drive what you yearn to express. Express your feelings through your art, in the purest forms, no matter how quirky or weird or different or controversial.
BH: In this time of digital power, do you still believe Radio play is important?
MANAL: Yes. We love to turn on the radio in the car and listen to what’s hot. Radio gives a sense of community that people still want to be a part of. In that sense it’s important. But in comparison to streaming and YouTube, that’s debatable and in need of some meticulous metadata to draw a proper conclusion.
BH: Would we ever see you collaborate with a rapper from the GCC?
MANAL: I look forward to seeing what’s out there in the GCC. For me, collaborations have to make sense artistically. I’m always open to them as long as they make artistic sense. So if someone from the GCC makes sense for a particular song then yes absolutely. As it would be for someone from Kazakhstan for example.
BH: Any last words for Re-Volt Blog readers.
MANAL: Hope you guys like the new song and video! Definitely check it out! And I appreciate you Hass for doing what you do for Urban music!
Watch the video below