Ÿuma is a music project from Tunis established by Sabrine Jenhani and Ramy Zoghlemi. They started this project in 2014/2015 and they released two albums. Their latest album Ghbar Njoum (The Milky Way) was released on February 2, 2018 via Innacor Records. The music is somewhere between indie-folk, blues and rock music. Below you find an interview which was done via E-Mail because they are currently touring for their new album. This is the first interview in a series called „In Conversation With“.
Musiqa Mustaqilla: What is your background in music?
Ÿuma: We both started separately with garage bands playing rock – grunge music. We were listening to the same type of music back in the teenage era for examples bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Guns’n’Roses, Queen, The Cranberries, Audioslave, Silverchair, Oasis, Ben Harper, Nick Cave, Pj Harvey, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, the doors and many others were and still are such a great inspiration for us. Covering songs with garage bands was a great practice. Very quickly it becomes part of your life and also a great escape. Sabrine started working professionally as a singer in Jazz clubs in Tunis at the age of 18 to cover the expenses of her study (of fine art ).
Ramy was practicing with his friends in a rock band. We were both surprised in 2014, as it was unexpected to feel that musical harmony, and when my memory takes me back to that time, I remember that it wasn’t only about liking the same genre of music, but it was also about perspective, lifestyle, the way we figure out life, philosophy, expectations. We started an international career with Ÿuma in 2015. We both come from ordinary families, none of our parents are artists. We developed our love for music more than any other passion spontaneously.
MM: You call yourself Ÿuma, how did you come up with the name and what does it mean for you both, in terms of your music and your writing?
Ÿuma: Ÿuma is a word chosen for its different meanings, allies in native American dialect, good friends in old North Berber dialect, beautiful or graceful dancer in Japanese and maybe because we work equally on everything together, composition, writing and arrangements. Yuma’s music is written in Tunisian Dialect “Derja”, the national spoken language, inspired by old sayings of grandmothers, ancient poetry from the Tunisian dialect, tales and adages that inspired the young Tunisian generation but also traveled through Europe.
MM: What are your inspirations?
Ÿuma: Arabic music is pretty much present but way different from what we used to hear usually. I like to refer to Yuma with new Arab alternative music, I will name Yasmine Hamdan, Jadal, Akher Zapheer or Mashrou’ Leila. Our music is minimalistic, more specifically Indie – Folk – Rock music.
Sometimes it talks about fragile, deep feelings, trust, at other times the music gets louder to follow other emotions like anger. It is the expression of the soul after all, sometimes it is quiet and at other times it’s loud.
Performance and recording are two different things. While performing we sometimes used to play as a duet, some other times with drums and keyboards. In the studio we have more freedom to invite many other sounds, it could be electronics, violin or other elements.
MM: What is important for you that you want to express with the music? Do you plan to continue singing in Arabic or do you want to use other languages such as French/English as well?
Ÿuma: We tried singing in English and French on the 1st album Chura and it was a great experience, but it’s always better to get closer to your native langage, especially because in Tunisia, productions are mainly made in English and French, as for us, it’s our role as artist to encourage the new generation to express themselves in their own language.
You can see them on Tour in Tunis on February 23, in Marseille on March 3, 2018, in London on March 10. You can check out other dates here.