As a child growing up in Kuwait in the 1990s, Fatima Al Qadiri had the kind of utopian access to global entertainment that still seems out of reach in the West, even in today’s golden age of boundless media. Thanks to Kuwait’s lenient piracy laws, she and her sisters were able to beam in cartoons and versions of MTV from every corner of the globe, absorbing a glut of information that instilled her with a worldly curiosity and a sensitivity to foreign culture that informs the expansive work she does today as a visual artist and producer. Rather than share the media-saturated days of her childhood in a maximalist outpouring, however, Al Qadiri crystallizes her rogue education into precise, refined works. Following a trio of EPs—Desert Strike, Genre-Specific Xperience, and WARN-U, an homage to Muslim anthems that she recorded as Ayshay—she’ll release her debut album Asiatisch through Hyperdub on May 5.
The record, which toys with Western perceptions of China in pop culture, is both Al Qadiri’s most conceptually ambitious and cohesive release yet; she’s taken her trademark minimalist bass sound and delicately woven in uncanny references to Asian culture as filtered through a deeply American lens. On “Dragon Tattoo”, for instance, she sings lyrics that subtly spin lines from Lady and the Tramp’s highly recognizable “We Are Siamese” into a R&B ballad.
Another track, “Wudang”, is named for the mountainous region that inspired the kung fu-obsessed Wu-Tang Clan. The song uses a warped vocal sample of an ancient Chinese poem called “Peach Tree Tender”, conveying something eerie and intangible but perversely melodic and accessible nonetheless. “I envisioned it to be a Chinese mall in the mountains of Wudang, manned by these ancient Chinese robots,” Al Qadiri tells me about “Wudang”, laughing a bit at her own hallucinatory imaginings.
“It’s a really evil song.” We’re sitting in a high-ceilinged private library/conference space at MoMA PS1, where the seed for the record’s concept was planted during a collaboration with an art collective called Shanzhai Biennial. The 32-year-old, who splits her time between London and New York when she’s not traveling elsewhere, is calm and elegantly professorial, sporting an aqua-blue sateen Starter jacket over a white t-shirt and clicking her long, translucent nails together for conversational emphasis. ( By Carrie Battan from www.pitchfork.com )For more information visit Fatima’s webpage at the link below.