Discovering new music is such an invigorating process for me because I am able to encounter new stories of culture and language and growth. It feels good to sing along with an artist who knows how to speak to my soul in a new way. Such was the case when I discovered British Duo Native Sun who blend afro beat melodies with Hip Hop lyricism in order to charm and inspire.
When you listen to Native Sun, you are invited into diaspora. Group members, Mohammed Yahya and Sarina Leah are both musicians committed to not only quality music but edifying words through a message of peace. Their new album, Indigenous Soundwaves, is a testament to the fact that brothers and sisters around the world are speaking truth to power in the most creative of ways. Zora had the pleasure to chat with the duo as they prepared for their first Chicago performance. Effortlessly cool, the group dropped their thoughts on the recording process, listener support, and spirituality.
Zora: Thanks for speaking with us today! For those of us new to your music, can you talk about how you two connected? How did Native Sun come about?
Sarina: Myself and Mohammed met about ten or eleven years ago. My best friend is Mohammed’s wife and a member of the group Poetic Pilgrimage so we moved in the same circles and there were various events that Poetic Pilgrimage and Mohammed Yahya would create and one event was called Rebel Music. Because we were like a little family we ended up eventually working together after Mohammed kept pushing me to do a track with him. One track turned into two then three and we decided to be a group and build.
Zora: Has music always been something you knew you wanted to do?
Mohammed: For me, music came at such a young age. I was born in Mozambique and I fled to Portugal where I lived for 10 years and music played a big role because I didn’t have literature that would teach me about my country. I was taught through music so as soon as I was able to read and write, I started writing poetry. I was really, really young and when Hip Hop came to Portugal I thought “Oh my God, this is amazing. This is it.”
Sarina: I used to sing all the time. Back in my era there were tapes [laughs], not CD’s and so I would record alot of radio music like TLC, SWV, and Brandy. I would record the songs,rewind, and then try to remember how to sing it just like the artist.I spent alot of time writing the wrong lyrics [laughs] thinking I was singing the right thing. But it was cool because I learned to write and also sing that way.
Zora: As I listened to your music, I was immediately struck by an energy of an artform that is dedicated to peace and cultural dialogue. Why is it important for these themes to resonate in your music?
Mohammed: I think because it is such a universal message. Me and Sarina both have different spiritual paths in our lives but ultimately we’re trying to project that and as we look around us it’s obvious that the world needs more peace, love, understanding and cultural dialogue because ultimately we have to live with each other regardless of what paths or backgrounds we are coming from.
Sarina: I also think that the things that we write empower our own lives and vice versa. I’ve been a vegan for a year and being conscious of what I eat and what I choose to do empowers our music as well. There is a give and take element that is inspiring.
Zora: Your new project, Indigenous Soundwaves is dope! My favorite track is Gallery of Dreams. What was the recording process like? How do you feel now that the album is complete?
Mohammed: You know, it’s interesting because Gallery of Dreams was actually the first song that we recorded and as a rapper I’m used to writing really quickly, going to the studio and then recording but that song took months to do because we would record it in parts. Alot of our songs start off with us discussing different subjects and during that particular conversation Sarina was talking about children and the song grew from there. It’s a very emotional process.
Sarina: It’s very touching. You know what’s really deep as well? We thought of the title but we didn’t realize that it was G.O.D. Gallery of Dreams. That was such a spiritual thing. Usually, as a vocalist you are given a track and you put your vocals around the track but on this song I sang the melody and then Samantha, who plays the keys on the track, imitated my voice with the keys and it became a deep involvement.
Mohammed: And songs like that, we don’t even believe come from us. They comes through us.
Zora: What artists are you listening to currently?
Mohammed: I listen to people like Ian Kamau from Canada. I also listen to alot of West African Music from countries like Mali, Senegal.
Sarina: I’m really inspired by European Electro music. Little Dragon.And of course soul music is embedded in me as well, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott.
Zora: How can Zora and our readers continue to support you?
Mohammed: Keep up todate with us through our twitter and facebook but most importantly share the music!
Be sure to stay in touch with Native Sun via twitter at @nativesunmuzik or find them on facebook at Native Sun. You can also support the dynamic duo by picking up the digital copy of their soul stirring album Indigenous Soundwaves
It’s good stuff. I promise!