Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan is an eminently cool addition to the indie-pop landscape. She was the co-founder of the groundbreaking duo Soapkills, which might have been the very first electronic band in postwar Beirut. Now a solo artist and based in Europe after a childhood split between Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece, Hamdan blends new material with reworked traditional songs in a smoky-cool electro-pop setting.
Her choice to sing exclusively in Arabic isn't a parochial one: Instead, it's a statement that's both intensely personal and in some ways political, a way of declaring who she is and where she comes from. (She says she's turned down many international recording offers that stipulated she perform in English.) In her sets, she indulges in some regional code-switching, moving deftly between Arabic dialects. But whether or not you hear those differences in her singing, you'll instantly understand why she's attracted the attention of tastemakers from French Vogue magazine to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who enlisted her to appear as herself in his upcoming film Only Lovers Left Alive.
- "Ya Nass"