In Conversation with „Nur“: Finding The Right Sound

Musiqa Mustaqilla’s ongoing series „In Conversation With“ continues with a talk between Musiqa Mustaqilla’s editor and Nur, a young Jordanian-singer songwriter. Her latest release is called Mray.

Nur Photo - Khaleek

From „Khaleek“ music video directed by Zaid Bawab and shot by Ghassan Nazmi.

MM: What was the first spark that inspired you to express yourself in music? Are you originally from Amman?

Nur: Yes, I am. Art in general was my safe place as a child. I used to make silly songs about everything, and I resorted to writing and painting when I was feeling down. Later on I realized I wanted to capture my deepest experiences through music, partly because it’s therapeutic and I enjoy it more than anything in life, but the bigger part is that it’s as if you’re taking your experiences to a level that is bigger than you. An artist can speak to you and inspire you to expand beyond your limitations if their expression was genuine and their experience responded to yours. I’ve experienced that with the artists who touched my life, and I’ve been saved by a song time and again.

MM: What kind of music do you get your inspiration from – how does the music you listen to influence you? 

Nur:  I enjoy good music from all genres but my influences were mostly western, alternative rock. When I was introduced to the Arabic indie scene I was very impressed by how local expressions added a whole new dimension of depth to anything I grew up listening to. The authenticity of reflecting the culture and experiences is what makes indie music very powerful. This scene has amazing talents and there is a lot to learn from the artists who paved the way, that’s all I listen to nowadays. It happens that the “majority” of well established Arab indie artists/bands are males and their music is diverse enough to speak to a great segment of the youth generation – both males and females, including myself. But if I was to grow up listening to this scene, I would want more female indie artists, at least on stage. I grew up listening to Alanis Morissette, Cranberries, No Doubt, and others who dived into layers of self expression and complexity that are unique to female experiences. That played a huge part in my life and empowered me as young girl.

MM: When you are starting to write new songs – do you think first of the lyrics or the melody and structure? 

Nur: It’s really different for each song. The seed is usually the story/main emotion behind the song, when I know the story I trust the melody to arrive as it may and then build on it.

MM: How do you record your music – what kind of equipment do you use?

Nur: I’m producing my songs with Chris Mullender, a great producer and sound engineer based in Jordan. When I first came to him I asked: „how much are you willing to invest in the creative process?“ And he said: „as much as it takes“. They say it’s crucial to work with a producer you’re comfortable with and I’ve been extremely lucky that our paths crossed. Chris’s talent, passion, and expertise complement my music and take it to greater places.

MM: You released two songs on soundcloud so far – Mray and Khaleek – tell me a bit how you first started working on these songs and on Mray you worked together with Joseph Shomali, what was his part?  

Nur: Joseph is a friend of mine and a talented musician/pianist. Once we were jamming and he started improvising on the piano, playing the intro, and first verse of „Mray“ then he paused. I found myself improvising the lyrics and melody of the chorus. We realized we had something worth finishing and so we did.  „Khaleek“ was written a while ago. It was the first song I finished. I started with a couple of lines actually and left it for months before coming back to it, when I added more parts to it. I shared it with the same friend asking: „what do you think?“ And he said something along the following lines: „it’s a nice “idea”. You never finish your music, just commit to it, Nur“. I realized he was right and that was a turning point for me. It was the first song I finished and recorded.

MM: How would you describe your music?  

Nur: I think I find myself always questioning the authenticity of my expression, and since the essence of life is duality I’m never satisfied with expressing one absolute state, like pure joy or pure darkness. You can’t be happy without realizing that this moment will pass, and you’re usually mostly inspired at your darkest moments. Perhaps that is why melancholy, or let’s call it wistfulness, is always having you longing to be somewhere else, as if you’re in sync with the very nature of life and anticipating it before living it. Duality is also present in the contradiction between soft and intense, dark and hopeful that I think is part of my music. Nothing is fully sincere if you see it from one side and I like to bring those layers.

MM: When you are performing live – do you perform your music in different variations or as you record them? 

Nur: I’ve just released my debut single 3 months ago and plan on starting performing live once I have my full collection released. It would depend on the song and the crowd, but I’ll definitely want to experiment with variations.

MM: What are your upcoming projects? Do you plan on releasing an EP or Album? And do you have any upcoming tour dates that you would like to share? 

Nur: I have a couple of recorded singles that I will be releasing in the coming months, they’re a bit different from what I’ve released so far, one is called “Ya Rait” that I’m specifically excited about as it has a special story to it. Following that, I’ll be focusing on live performances and preparing for the first album.

English Lyrics for Khaleek:

We’re here, you and me – while everyone’s asleep
We are here inside my head – where are you
I thought a lot about calling you – to come here
I thought a lot about calling you – to stay
You’re only here for two months – then you disappear and go away
You only say two words – do you assume you’re being clear?
Why are you so far away – why don’t you stay
You and me – our story has changed
Close for only two days – and strangers for another ten
Maybe I was dreaming – or imagining things
Could it be that I have painted you – with oil colors
Hmmmmm hmmmm hmmmmmmm
Hmmmmm hmmmm hmmmmmmm
Why are you so far away – why don’t you stay
Its fading – the image in my head
Its fading – fading away
Remind me – who we used to be
Its fading – fading away
Its fading – the image in my head
We’re fading – we’re fading away
Stay

English Lyrics for Mray:

This is such a strange place..
In which time is fasting forward
The features of my face are changing
Time after time, I don’t recognize myself
Who is this girl looking at me in the mirror

Where
Are you getting away from me
You’re breaking my heart
Who are you
Who are you

I left you to darkness
And wore a mask of illusions
That doesn’t look my father and mother
I’m removing the dust
That inside of me has compiled
And my voice doesn’t sound like me

Where
Are you getting away from me
You’re breaking my heart
Who are you
Who are you
Why
Are you getting away from me
You’re breaking my heart
Who are you
Who are you
Where
Are you getting away from me
You’re breaking my heart
Who are you
Who are you

 

 

 

 

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