On June 9, Maryam Saleh released together with Crash Nomada a single called Leih Ya Hamam. This is their first collaboration together.
Both, the musicians of Crash Nomada and Maryam Saleh are very distinct personalities which are reflected in the way they are writing, producing and performing music. Both are backed up by a loyal fanbase and through their work they are shaping independent music. Leih Ya Hamam is the result of their collaboration. There is a theatrical feel to it, and both Ragnar Bey’s voice and Maryam Saleh’s style of singing give the song different layers to work with. They met while Maryam Saleh was in Sweden during 2016.
During her residency, which was organised by Simsara, Inkonst, Inter Arts Centre, with support from Musikverket, it was possible to let those artists discover new ways, to work with new parters and find new inspirations. As it is said on the website of Simsara, established by Sarah El Miniawy, „It is part of a wider project connecting musicians and music organizations in Sweden with their Arab world counterparts.“ Maryam Saleh is described as „a major creative force and a powerful voice for her generation.“ and she released both albums with Mostakell.
Leih Ya Hamam (Why, Dove)
This song was made popular through performances of the late Sheikh Ahmed Barrayn who was a Sufi singer from Upper Egypt and died in 2015. In an article from Ma3azef, it is mentioned that he released in 2003 a solo album with the help of the Arab World Institute in Paris which was called Sufi Songs.
Barrayn was one of the icons and he was not only known in Egypt, but in Europe as well. His style, and type of singing, is what probably attracted both Maryam Saleh and Crash Nomada to reimagine Leih Ya Hamam into a modern folk rock song while still keeping the spirit of late Ahmed Barrayn alive through the style of the song which is very experimental.
The song is just under four minutes long, starting with Maryam Saleh’s characteristic type of singing, which is accompanied by the accordion and the drums. Later Ragnar Bey is joining her, but Maryam Saleh’s voice is clearly more at the forefront.
Back in 2011 in an interview with Egypt Independent, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh founder of Mostakell, explained his opinion on Maryam Saleh’s work:
„What caught my attention was how Saleh’s personality is strongly present in her work. She goes against the rules of contemporary music in the Arab world. She doesn’t give traditional performances with a soft voice, but , rather, sings with an expressive and striking voice that has high resonance and doesn’t strictly follow the music notes.“
In exchange, Saleh said in an interview with Ahram that:
„Mostakell helped me launch my solo career, after I had always performed as part of bands. I had feared the idea of working on my own, but I nonetheless grasped the importance of taking such step through my work with Mostakell.“
Her music is described as both contemporary and experimental, and she was coined as a „pioneer in sarcastic political music.“ Before releasing her solo albums, she performed in different bands and projects and was able to adapt her theatrical legacy into her work as an artist and actress. Her father was a very well-known playwright. She came early into contact with Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm.
On her first solo album Mesh Baghanny (I am not singing), all of her songs were written by herself, with the exception of two songs composed by Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. On her debut album she says in an interview with Cairoscene,„It was the first album I worked on under my own name instead of hiding behind a band or collaboration. All the music in this album was composed by me except for two songs composed by musical director Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. It was an important album for me because it was my introduction to the musical world and documents my development as an artist.“
Her second album, Halawella which is based on a work by Ahmed Fouad Negm was produced in collaboration with Zeid Hamdan. They worked for five years on this album. Halawella contains six songs by Sheikh Imam, while the rest are her compositions. The album is very satirical, and experimental, but at the same time it seems very personal and intimate for both artists.
After her collaboration with Crash Nomada, she is currently working with Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maurice Louca on a new project. According to Simsara’s homepage an album is forthcoming, composed in Alexandria and Amman and recorded between Cairo and Beirut.