Catching Up With YADi [Interview]

We were lucky enough to catch up Britain's YADi for a quick interview. With the recent success of the re-release of, "Guillotine" and collaborations with Joe Goddard, The Very Best, and Baaba Maal, YADi has stirred up some considerable noise. Remarkably, she has garnered just as much buzz for her fashion as for her music. She is fresh off performances at The Great Escape receiving rave reviews. The Blow EP just saw its release and can scooped on iTunes worldwide. A big thanks to YADi for doing the interview!

The North African and Middle Eastern elements in your music, for instance the oud and qraqebs, are pretty apparent and the aspect I enjoy the most. How has your Algerian ancestry guided you in music and more generally on an everyday basis? How connected to your roots are you?

YADi: It’s more that my father was really into music – in fact that’s what drew him to London in the first place – he came to watch the Rolling Stone in 1976 – and he has brought me up listening to all sorts of musical genres including North African and Malian music and this is something I’ve always loved and begun to explore in my own music.

I grew up in a home full of African instruments like the darbuka and bendir, which my father used to teach me to play. My mother is half Norwegian and so there are lots of Viking influences in my life too!

As to your musical background, how did you get introduced to music? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do? What have some major influences been?

YADi: My father used to sing to me in my mothers tummy and I have been performing for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I used to write and perform plays and songs for my family like lots of children my age, but I knew that that’s what I wanted to carry on doing for the rest of my life.

I have heard a few of your songs back from Hella Cholla, how has that project affected the direction you have gone today?

YADi: It was a time when we were experimenting with our songwriting and storytelling. It was acoustic so it was led by the melody and you had to keep things interesting so I think that has stayed with me. It was always very rhythmic and I’ve definitely pushed that even further in my own music.

I read in another interview that you have traveled to Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. Among these places which is your favorite?

YADi: I haven’t been to Algeria since I was a young child but the memories remain strong - particularly the banana tree in my grandmothers garden!

You chose to shoot the video for “The Blow” in Casablanca? How did you arrive at the decision to shoot in Morocco and more specifically Casablanca? How did the video come together?

YADi: When I write songs I picture the scene in my mind like a short film. When I was writing The Blow I imagined a dusty, warm nostalgic city so Casablanca seemed like a perfect setting.

Baaba Maal is among my favorite world musicians and as a result when “Unbreakable” first landed in my inbox I jumped on it. How did this come into fruition?

YADi: I was introduced to Baaba by Johan Hugo from The Very Best. He, our friend Seye, Baaba and I met up for a writing session and within half an hour of all being together we came up with the bare bones of ‘Unbreakable’. We were all sitting around singing the chant together and the song was born out of that. ‘Sha da da, shabby da da!’ It happened by accident like all the best songs!

I read somewhere that you are big into Gnawa music. Have you heard about the large Gnawa festival in Essouira, Morocco? Ever thought about going?

YADi: Yes, I’m going in June!

What groups are you feeling right now?

YADi: I have been working with Buraka Som Sistema, I’m really looking forward to hearing their new material. I love Toro Y Moi’s new record and I’ve always been a huge Daft Punk fan so I’m enjoying the fact that they’re releasing new music.

In the coming months where can your fans catch you live?

YADi: I’m playing a festival that I am not allowed to announce yet but it involves some exciting collaborations so you’ll have to keep an eye on my facebook page for more info!

Lastly, if you could leave the readers of Bochi Crew with a parting piece of advice, really about anything, what would you say?

YADi: Smile at strangers!


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