AZIZA “Tarapop is my world of melodies and colors”
When you look back to the last few years, what do you see?
I’ve honestly been in the shadows for the past three years after my last release Salat el zein in 2016. I was a bit afraid of releasing any new original work because I was simply uninspired and I did not want to release anything just because I am obliged to. Being original in this field is a hard thing and the hardest is being in the middle (between the commercial and indie) and the identity of Aziza that I have been trying to sculpt and position exists actually in between these two worlds.
However, I accomplished beautiful things meanwhile, and participated in amazing events in Lebanon and abroad especially the festivals in Mexico and Jarash in Amman. I did collaborate as well with lots of beautiful artists such as Julien Dassin (Joe Dassin’s son) and had a fun performance with the Gypsy Kings at Beirut Holidays Festival.
With each passing year I am growing, expanding and challenging myself, making mistakes and learning from them.
Why did you choose Tarapop?
Tarapop is a genre that represents me and showcases the way I understand and interpret music.
I love tarab and the Arabic classics and I am so influenced by their icons such as Abdel Wahab and Warda, but I find myself as well in the western pop culture and its edgy idols like Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury etc.
So the only way to exhibit Aziza as an identity was to create my own musical genre that sums up all my influences and inspirations. Tarapop is the world I live in. It’s my world of melodies and colors.
Tell us more about your new single Or2os Ma3aya (Dance with me)?
When I felt ready to release new original music, I visited with my management many songwriters in Lebanon and in Cairo looking for a song that resembles me. I had a writer’s block as I mentioned before, I was so uninspired and couldn’t write any new material.
So after looking around and listening to hundreds of songs, Or2os Ma3aya was the only melody carved in my memory.
It’s written by two brilliant Egyptian composers Mohamad Rifai and Mohamad Yehya who collaborated with many artists like Amr Diab.
Then came the music video, and I remember the first time I met with Fares (the director) I told him I’m seeing lots of sickness, pain, divorce, hate and negativity around me and that I wanted to do an uplifting mood video dedicated to those who really need some joy and happiness in their lives. He suggested we do a Point of View technique where the hands of the camera represent the viewer. It’s not a love story, so the cameo appearance of Wissam Saliba embodies the positive energy I am channeling to my audience in this project.
It was a risky one, since I approved to do a shoot with no beautifying lighting, instead I was too close to the camera jumping around which at some moments might not be flattering especially that we live in a very judgmental society where beauty shots are everything in Arabic music videos.
I simply did not care.
My art is about not taking myself too seriously and my goal in this business is taking the Arabic pop music scene to another level.
And since the release of the video we only heard that we’ve been putting smiles on many faces mission accomplished I guess.
Who are your inspirational female artists?
I’m a forever Dalida fan, she’s my main influence when it comes to my movement on stage and the elegance she carries in her gestures.
Sabah and her versatility marked me as well, she sang the Lebanese folklore, the Egyptian tarab, the English swing, the French trials and she was simply a diva by all means in all of these styles.
I believe artists should never limit themselves in any art form that might be.
Also immensely inspired by Grace Jones and her daring personality, her quirky manners and edgy looks.
How do you disconnect and relax?
I run to my sacred little cocoon called home. I practice Qi Gong (a Chinese holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health and spirituality.
I travel a lot, I retreat to beach getaways, or stay home for days and days reading spiritual books and cooking. I’m an excellent Thai cuisine cook or so they say :)
Are you a sunshiny person like your songs?
Definitely not a sunshine in the morning. I’m literally the grumpiest person I know when I open my eyes and life to me starts after a coffee or two.
But all in all, with the stress of my career and the hardships of daily life situations I do try to stay positive and light as much as I can, especially in the lives of the people I love and care about.
What are your plans this summer?
Beach destinations and lots of travelling basically. As for work, I have some scheduled performances at festivals, events and weddings. And will start the process of working on new music this summer as well.
Your best and worst musical moments?
Best: I cannot say I have one best moment, since I had so many beautiful memorable moments that assured me that I was where I was meant to be.
Every loving interaction with my audience is another best moment.
Worst: is the 3 years of not releasing any original music and the uninspiring period.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
I always wanted to work Redone, the Moroccan producer based in Los Angeles who worked with many international artists on big hits such as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Mika and others.
As an artist performer, would love to collaborate with the Portuguese fado singer Mariza. I imagine an oriental-fado musical experiment would come out with something extraordinary since both cultures carry lots of emotions in the vocal delivery.
Your fashion style?
Fashion is a key element in my identity and the way I present Aziza as a brand. So I’m always creating a look that suits the time and the psychological status I’m in. For example I was influenced by the ‘sherwal’ few years ago, and I would use it as a main item in my outfits.
It represented power and tradition, and it helped me deliver an empowering message that I was trying to channel back then to the women of the Arab world.
These days you can find me in suits in all colors and patterns, another outfit that represents power mixed with an elegant touch of lace or leather bralettes.
My all-time favorite designer is Karl Lagerfeld, and you can find lots of his clothing from his personal brand in my closet.
Your favorite TV series?
I loved Casa Del Papel and can’t wait for the new season to start!
I usually watch Chef’s Table as well and lots of documentaries more than series, since I get so hooked on series that I can finish a whole season in one sleepless night, not good ! ;)
Photo: Fares el Sokhon