INTERVIEW: Fatima – Yellow Memories
by Ayian C.
The long awaited debut album from Swedish-Senegalese songstress Fatima, Yellow Memories, will be released later this week (May 12) on Eglo Records, the London-based label headed by Alex Nut and Floating Points.
Yellow Memories is a solid achievement involving an arsenal of high-calibre producers from both sides of the Atlantic, including Shafiq Husayn, Oh No, Scoop Deville, Theo Parrish, Flako and Floating Points. From the majestic orchestral arrangement of “Do Better” to the playful tempo switch-up of “La Neta”, the album emanates an impressive array of soul, R&B, hip-hop and electronic flavours that reach for both the classic sounds of yester years as well as modern-day dancy beats.
With every track, Fatima’s lyrical and vocal delivery oozes style, strength, depth and finesse, establishing her as one of the most captivating singers in the industry. Rich as her vocal range, the album takes the listener through a journey of emotional highs and lows, complexities and simplicity that is revealing of both the competence and potential of this budding star.
Hailed by Resident Advisor as ‘one of 2014’s standout artists’ and having won the respect of several world renowned DJs including Benji B and Gilles Peterson, Fatima is originally from Stockholm, currently splitting her time between London and New York. Just as Yellow Memories is about to drop, Fatima shared some insights into her creative life with the Couch Sessions.
FATIMA ON ‘LA NETA’ VIDEO
The video was filmed in New York by my boyfriend Sebastian Hallqvist. It was just me and Sebastian in the ice, cold winter with no assistants. I had to be my own stylist. The pocket mirror saved me. It was fun, we filmed in Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Halsey, at a laundromat, Queens, on trains too, a little bit of everywhere.
FATIMA ON THE NAME ‘YELLOW MEMORIES’
My grandma’s house is yellow, and to me that house symbolizes my family, love, my time growing up in Sweden. All the songs are rooted in experiences of the past and stored in the back of my brain like a memory. Yellow also stands for the sun and brightness but an old photo might turn yellow so it can also describe something that’s fading.
FATIMA ON MAKING THE ALBUM TRACKS
The album grew organically. All the songs show different sides of me, things that I’ve been through. Some things are kind of personal, so it’s me observing my situation and what I go through, looking at my surroundings and what’s going on. It’s some stuff that happened to me or to other people. It’s kind of introspective – my take on things and the world around me.
Hopefully people will enjoy it and take time to listen and can pay attention to the lyrics. I appreciate all the people who have been in tune to what I’ve been producing. I don’t want to take it for granted or anything because you never know if people are going to rock with you since there’s so much music around now. It’s really fun and makes me happy to see people buying me records and coming to my show.
FATIMA ON HER COLLABORATORS
I really love all the people who’ve been involved. All the producers are amazing, and I wanted to create something that I also would like to listen to myself. It’s cool to see some of my favorite producers all on the same project – my project. Yay!
FATIMA ON THE OPENING SONG “DO BETTER”
Theo Parrish had a beat he had done, a sample. It was a rough beat, a loop thing. He played it and asked if I can come up with something to that. Sam came up with an idea to take the sample and re-arrange it and make a live version. He wrote the whole arrangement then called in his musician friends.
FATIMA ON EGLO RECORDS
I met Alex and he used to see me singing around town and he gave me a mixed CD of his radio show. I really liked it and he invited me to the show and we realized we had a lot of stuff in common. Then I met Floating Points and eventually a friendship developed and they started the Eglo label as a platform for Floating Points’ music and then asked me if I wanted to be involved.
FATIMA ON SONGWRITING
Most of the time when I write songs, I write to the music so it all starts with the beat. And I often contact people, but people contact me too. I’m particular about what I like so I have to go seek for the right sounds. Most of the time it starts with the music for me, then the lyrics get inspired by the music.
I listen to a lot of music – cold beats, beautiful singing and love songs. Depends what mood I’m in, but I’m open minded. Most of the music I gravitate towards always come back to hip-hop and soul, and if I feel it, if I feel I can come up with something to it. I think it’s good if you try different things. I don’t see any point in just making music just for hype or just for work. I want to do something that I like.
FATIMA ON PERFORMING IN HER HOMETOWN OF STOCKHOLM
I’ve never performed there with my band and I moved away seven and a half years ago. Since then I haven’t been back to do a proper show, so I’m excited about it. My two sisters, and my brother and my cousin will be DJing and performing.
I’ve been traveling around a lot with Eglo in Europe but I haven’t been doing a lot of shows in Sweden so it’s cool to come back now with my album playing new music. A few people might know about my music, but I don’t know what to expect.
FATIMA ON LONDON
I came to London and really liked it. Got introduced to new music styles, grime and stuff. I like the London feeling. It might be grey, but it’s got this edge to it, kind of cold and hard with an edge – it’s a typical London feeling.
FATIMA ON NEW YORK
I always wanted to go to New York. I love hip-hop and that’s the mecca of hip-hop and always glorified it I always wanted to go there; and through films and stuff it always looked really cool.
FATIMA’S ADVICE TO ASPIRING SINGERS
The main thing is to be fearless and determined. If you let fear take over you, you will lose out on so many opportunities. If you don’t ask, if you don’t grab opportunities, then…? If you’re in an open mic session and you don’t try, you won’t get better.
You have to think about things, but don’t think too much because you might be thinking about things for years and not do anything. There’s tons of other people trying to do the same thing so you’ve got to go for it.
Fatima will be performing live with her band at the legendary Jazz Cafe in London on May 6. Catch her in Croatia at Dimension Festival on August 29 and opening for Lauryn Hill at Outlook Festival on September 3.