Written by Myf Warhurst

Arts

Open Your Ears! Arabian Chic

Every week, Myf Warhurst shines a spotlight on women who should be peppering your playlist. This week it’s husky Lebanese electro-dabbler Yasmine Hamdan.

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One of the most exciting voices out there, Yasmine Hamdan is an icon of underground music in the Arab world.

It’s lazy to describe Yasmine Hamdan as the Arabic Lana Del Ray, but this description does go some way to explain her effortless cool, her beautiful husky vocals and beguiling songs that have struck a chord with listeners all over the world. But it doesn’t tell the whole story – which is also pretty extraordinary.

Yasmine was born in Beirut and has lived in many corners of the globe, including Kuwait, Greece, Abu Dhabi and now Paris, where she currently resides. Her music is a product of her experiences in all of these places and because of her early work in Beirut’s independent music scene in particular, she is considered an icon of underground music in the Arab world.

Yasmine began her music career as a member of the groundbreaking duo Soapkills, which was one of the only indie/electro pop groups in the Middle East in the ‘90s. When she moved to Paris, she worked with New York experimental singers CocoRosie and also with electronic producer Mirwais (who’s known predominantly for his work on Madonna’s Music album). Last year, she stepped out on her own and recorded her own solo album, entirely in Arabic, called Ya Nass (Oh People).

Following the release of this album, she was cast to play herself in the Jim Jarmusch vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive (starring Tilda Swinton). Her song Hal also appears on the haunting soundtrack. I urge you to press play and be completely enveloped by one of the most exciting voices you will hear; a singer that is changing what it means to be an Arab artist today.

Yasmine’s debut album, Ya Nass, is released on vinyl on October 27 by Crammed Discs.

She supports Tinariwen at London’s Roundhouse on November 16.

LP cover

Single – Hal

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Written by Myf Warhurst

Myfanwy Warhurst is a broadcaster at Double J radio (ABC Australia), TV presenter, Guardian columnist, music nut and general layabout.