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Party of One: Meryem Aboulouafa

At a time where staying connected is more important than ever, House of Solo has launched ‘Party of One’, a series providing intimate insight into how your favourite artists are dealing with isolation and what we can expect from them during lockdown. 

This week we are speaking to Meryem Aboulouafa, a multi-talented artist born and raised in Casablanca who blends genres, languages and moods to exist in a unique audible sphere. We caught up over email to discuss the release of her eponymous album Meryem, whether lockdown has been an introspective time for her and how John Lennon and Sting have been getting her through. 

How are you holding up under lockdown? 

So far so good. I’m safe and that’s the most important. 

What does your space look like? Who are you in lockdown with? 

I’m spending the lockdown with my family in Casablanca where we have a large terrace overlooking the city. I spend most of my time there sunbathing when the weather is good. 

Have you settled into a routine? Are you in anyway concerned about life going back to ‘normal’? 

Yes I’ve  settled a routine during the lockdown, but at the same time I look forward to resuming my normal daily life. 

A lot of your songs are quite introspective, has lockdown intensified this inspiration? 

I thought that the lockdown would help me find some inspiration through introspection, but I was wrong. I realized that introspection, for me, happens through the others, through travels, when confronted with things and people that are different to myself.

Is there a language that you find it easier to write in? 

With no doubt, my ideas are more fluent and easier to write in Arabic, it’s spontaneous, precise, and very often close to my thoughts. 

Does music offer you the ability to transcend barriers? If so, what types of barriers and how does lockdown make you feel about that? 

Yes, music offers the ability to transcend geographical barriers, however it also offers the possibility to travel through landscapes, time and moods. 

 I’ve been listening to your music and have really been enjoying it! ‘Ya Qalbi’ especially I feel offers suspended time for contemplation. Can you tell me a little more about the inspiration behind this track and the process of making it? 

Ya Qalbi is a very popular festive Algerian song from the Arab-Andalusian repertoire. The author is unknown. 

In 2015, in Francesco Santalucia’s studio, I sang “Ya Qalbi” in a Gregorian way, I was probably influenced by my walks as well as the long breaks I took in the basilicas and churches in Rome. This interpretation gave him the desire to push the idea further with effects on the voice, to finally find satisfaction with the vocoder which created a contrast and a beautiful balance between tradition and modernity. 

What music have you been listening to during lockdown? 

Lately I’ve been listening to John Lennon’s ‘Oh My Love’, and Sting’s ‘Fragile’ on repeat. I’ve also been spending a lot of time listening to Mike Massy’s beautiful album A Thousand Years in collaboration with Sary & Ayad Khalifé, it’s currently my favourite. 

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it? 

I try to be as faithful as I can be to my feelings by expressing them the most authentic way possible. I would love to describe my music as “Music with influences” or “human music”. 

What’s been your favourite lockdown activity? 

I’ve got two new main favourite activities. The first is experimenting with new culinary dishes and the second is the watercolour painting. 

What message do you think needs to be more widely circulated in the world at the moment? 

Beyond cultures, origins and religions, the lockdown is a beautiful reminder about our great desire for life. 

Listen to the Album HERE

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