"I hope people will reconsider their way of consuming by helping and supporting more local initiatives both from a social and musical perspective"
© Lucie Hugary
Coming from the Arab electro scene, ڭليثرGlitter٥٥, a young Moroccan artist, weaves sounds with North African influences - like the Algerian Chaâbi - with a sophisticated electronic selection. Familiar face of Concrete, she combines industrial techno and North African sounds as part of her residency on Rinse France radio. We had a chance to talk to her, so enjoy your reading and check out her latest projects.
Hi Manar! Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
Hi! You can find me at home in Paris in front of the Buttes Chaumont’s park (19th district). I’ve started my day by doing a few burpees to stay dynamic. : )
How did you first get into electronic music? Was it your first real musical love or were you a keen listener of all sounds when you were younger?
I grew up listening to different kinds of music.
Obviously we were playing a lot of Moroccan and Arabic popular music at home but also French and Belgium popular music such as Serge Gainsbourg or Jacques Brel. As a teenager, I’ve also quickly started listening to more and more British rock music - my favourite were probably the Fortuna Pop and Sarah records’ artists. I started listening to electronic music at the end of my teenager years, a few years before moving to France. I was a big fan of Leila Arab, Amon Tobin and some weird psychedelic trance projects.
How did you start experimenting with electronic music?
My first experience behind the decks was in a bar in Lille, at a party that a friend was hosting. I had to improvise a few transitions with a friend so that he could look after the ticket office. I immediately had a lot of fun trying to find cohesion between the songs. Shortly after this first experience, I got an XDJ to practice at home. I spent hours trying to understand how it worked, trying to combine the tracks with different vocals. I immediately felt more at ease with electronic music in comparison to the other genres I listened to. I thought it offered more possibilities, especially as I had the idea to merge modern music with traditional Arab or African music.
What is your music criterion?
Hypnotic sounds from all around the world but especially songs with deconstructed drums sound, edgy synth textures and weird vocals and ululations.
How much has your sound changed since you started your dj career?
My musical choices are constantly evolving and differ according to my mood, the latest discoveries but also with the artists that inspire me. Obviously, it has also shifted as I’ve started to play more and more late.At the moment, I'm getting more and more into heavier and deconstructed sounds and usually above 130BPM.
What inspired you? What was your production criteria? What did you want to transmit?
I am a big fan of modern music coming from many different countries: from South America such as N.A.A.F.I’s artists to South African music particularly the very repetitive Gqom genre but also European record labels like Merge Layers, Flood, Nervous Horizon, HÖGA NORD and so much more! North African and Arabic popular music are rich in terms of percussive sounds and synths. I truly wanted to try and create something that transcends borders by connecting both the traditional African and Arabic music from my childhood and cultural history to the modern electronic music I’m surrounded by nowadays.
Do you think DJs can ever be true artists, or how would you describe their role?
I think that DJs are artists in their own way. The process of creation is very singular because they’re making something new out of different musical repertoires. The DJ also has to play his main role as a go-between.
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking? If so, how does it influence your DJ focus?
I am lucky to be surrounded by lots of musicians, DJs and creative people. I am constantly exposed to a very lively environment. I’d say I live to be able to take inspiration from this but also, I usually prefer to isolate myself when I work on my own mixes or sets.I feel it works better for me in order to do something as intimate as possible.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
Yes, I would love to share my latest podcast named ZAYN for Trax Magazine. Around two years ago, I launched a series of mixes following the ordering Abjdadi of Arabic letters. After the release of ‘Hawa’ earlier last year, Zayn is the 7th letter of ‘abdjad’ and also refers to the notion of beauty in the Darija language. Zayn is my first 4 channels mix recorded a month ago. It’s an exploration of the breadth of percussive music in a multi-faceted world without any boundaries either geographical or in terms of genres. The mix ends on ‘Damaa’ (=tears) where you can hear me singing in my mother tongue on my very first track produced by a friend, a Paris-based producer with Argentinian and Scottish roots, Malcolm.
What makes a good mix to you?
I like mixes that explore several universes and where musical aesthetics confront each other. To me, making a mix is a bit like telling a story. I must also say that I like them a bit twisted. Those where I can hear the DJ scratched his head while doing it. Third time’s a charm!
Who or what influenced you to get into the music industry?
I studied humanities, social sciences and music industry in particular. I started managing bands before becoming a DJ. I run a management agency called Fortune with two friends. Through my job, I have always collected so much music so I was very glad to find a way to share it in a different way.
What have been the most influential factors on your career so far?
Keys festivals like Transmusicales of Rennes or We Love Green in Paris are obviously accelerators and were so important for visibility. Aside from these, being able to find a family of artists by playing several times in special places for music like Le Sucre in Lyon or for festival Qui Embrouille Qui at La Station in Paris were hands down massive influences. It is also the case of being part of programs like We Are Europe thanks to Arty Farty and obviously playing at home in Morocco were also very special.
How do you search for the music that you play in your sets, and how much time do you spend looking for music?
I spend hours and hours on soundcloud and bandcamp navigating between the pages of record labels and artists that I love.I would say that I spend almost half of my weeks looking for new music.
Where was your favorite place to play, what was your most interesting gig, and for what reason?
Transmusicales in Rennes were quite special. Mainly because it was one of my first festivals experiences and I had never played in front of thousands of people ! History of the festival and the people behind it are amazing too.
All the times playing at home in Morocco were obviously quite special. I was pleasantly surprised by the excited crowd and the respectful and warm welcome. It was deeply moving to hear great feedback from the people I grew up with.
I’ve also recently started my own club nights called FISSA with my husband. The last two parties at one of my favourite places in Paris called La Machine du Moulin Rouge in Pigalle were definitely memorable ! Getting to invite and play amongst some of my current favourite artists is something I’ve always wanted to do.
What makes you happy?
Egyptian pop makes me really happy. I can't stop dancing and smiling while listening to it. And oysters! Ha!
What’s your favourite “save the dancefloor” song?
My favourite “save the dancefloor” song is Ruby by DJ plead. A brilliant edit of a famous song called “Leih Beydary Keda” from Ruby an egyptian singer, actress and dancer.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
I think it was a small cassette shop in Rabat, Morocco. I found a very funny cassette named “Belly Dance Naughty Girl!” produced in Turkey by Raks Electronic co.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
All my shows have been cancelled like any other artists so I get to spend quite a lot of time at home. It was difficult to appreciate what was happening at the beginning as well as making plans for the future but I think that this will strengthen us all. I take advantage of these moments to listen to every song of my musical collections and search for old songs that I have forgotten. And above all, I’ve spent so much time cooking which is one of my other passions. Without forgetting a little bit of exercise as mentioned in the beginning. : )
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
It helps me to imagine creative ways to share music with people. For example I’ve launched a belly dance challenge on Instagram in order to create a virtual dance floor ha ha.
More seriously, I know we’ll all need to be alert but I truly hope it will push us to stick together and be less self-centered. I hope people will reconsider their way of consuming by helping and supporting more local initiatives both from a social and musical perspective. Most of the actors of the music business are going to struggle after that crisis so everyone will have to be very supportive of each other’s actions.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
I recommend listening to Ya Yomma by Nelly Makdessi every morning to cheer up while doing some cardio exercises!
The soundtrack of ‘Atlantique’ by Fatima Al Qadiri is perfect to meditate over the afternoon.
Party hard in the living room every night by listening to Swan Meat’s ‘Suckling’.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Nothing very serious at the moment but I am more and more thinking of a project to do covers of some Arabic pop music to make them more suitable for club use. I’ve provided two guest vocals on tracks by my friends Malcolm and Sebastien Forrester which were both released very recently and I am really willing to do more of these in the forthcoming months.