FAULT Focus: Khadija Saye: Remembering The Artist Through Her Photography

 

Early Thursday morning, the reality of London’s Grenfell Tower blaze hit home for myself and my fellow UCA alumni as we read the final Facebook update from our once classmate, Khadija Saye. Trapped within the burning building, Khadija reached out for prayers from her loved ones, and they rushed to the streets and social media in hopes of finding her. Sadly, the next day Khadija’s family would confirm that what we feared the most had come to fruition, Khadija had tragically perished in the blaze.

While we did share a class throughout university, myself and Khadija were not close friends. Remembering my panic as I scrolled Google and social media desperately looking for an update on her condition, I feel compelled to help ensure that her captivating body of work and not the tragedy of her passing, form her lasting legacy.

As an artist, her work cast a light on Gambian culture, the collective unity within “the other” and her journey into self. In memorial of Khadija and the conclusion of her photographic portfolio, FAULT takes a dive into the work of the late great artist – Khadija Saye.

 

‘Crowned’

In 2013, Khadija took her seat at the proverbial table and unveiled her centrepiece in the form of her photographic project entitled, ‘Crowned’. This series of photographs is one of the projects that our class was able to observe as it developed from inception to completion as Khadija’s final degree show series. ‘Crowned’ is made up of eight portraits showcasing the different ways in which black woman close to Khadija styled their hair. From woven braids, extensions, dreaded and natural afro, the viewer is given a glimpse into the diverse range of hair styling possibilities open to black women.

Entitled ‘Crowned’, Saye references the physical and the symbolic idea that black hair is something to be prized and adorned and not ashamed of. The words of Ingrid Banks taken from her book entitled ‘Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women’s Consciousness’ echoes in my mind when I reflect upon Khadija’s title choice. In the book, Banks writes:

“Crown suggests a source of power, excellence or beauty…Therefore, a notion of power is embedded in the idea of hair as a black woman’s crowning glory. Hair has the ability to become a foundation for understanding how black woman view power and its relationship to self-esteem” –  Ingrid Banks 2000.

More contemporary references to black hair as something of brilliance can also be seen in Solange Knowles’ critically acclaimed 2016 release ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, where within the opening verse Solange exclaims:

“Don’t touch my crown, They say the vision I’ve found”

“They don’t understand, What it means to me”.

One does wonder what significance Khadija’s perception of her own afro hair and its beauty played in her choosing to embark on the project and if I were to guess, producing ‘Crowned’ was a labour of love and presentation of self-pride. Indeed in March 2017, four years after the release of the series, Khadija reminisced on the making of the project in joy tweeting:

 

In the image, her young assistants observe possibly unaware of the importance their participation played in the construction of ‘Crowned’ or how it might affect their perceptions towards their afro hair and ideas of self in years to come; truly the impact of ‘Crowned’ will stretch on far further than even Khadija would have imagined.

As the only black male on our course, I once attempted to play up my “wokeness” and asked Khadija if she had seen “the Chris Brown documentary called ‘Good Hair’”, (misquoting Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary that focussed on the perception of natural hair within the African-American community.) Emblematic of her kind-hearted and gentle attitude, Khadija, of course, corrected my mistake letting out a light giggle; dropping my façade I listened to her thoughts on the documentary.

Earlier I referenced Solange Knowles’ ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, a fiery anthem that highlights the resentment caused by patronising actions which decrease afro hair to a thing of play but observing ‘Crowned’, the same frustrated narrative does not confront me. My interpretation of ‘Crowned’ isn’t, “don’t touch my hair!” It is an inviting, “Don’t touch but do see. Bear witness to the beautiful ways black women can choose to style their crowns.” The viewer is invited to marvel at the intricacies of the different twists, curls and over-locking structures of the sitter’s hair and when printed and framed in a gallery, we’re disarmed and hypnotised by their sophisticated beauty.

It’s important we recognise the personal connection Saye shared with the women she photographed. The trust the sitters have placed in Khadija is unique; formed not just from a shared experience of blackness but through the confidence these women placed in Khadija’s skill as an artist to capture so much more than just hair. It is thanks to her affable character that Khadija was trusted to capture up-close the art within her subject and through her artistry and presentation nous, she allowed the viewer to appreciate black women’s hairstyles up close as something of splendour.

Khadija’s ‘Crowned’ might end here, but the project as a form of inspiration to a new generation of artists will continue. The eight sitters included on Saye’s website are but a drop in the ocean of the many different ways black woman can choose to style their hair; making ‘Crowned’ a gleaming seed from which the mightiest body of work can still grow.

 

Home.Coming

For her series entitled ‘Home.Coming’, Khadija travelled to The Gambia and documented her exploration of self through a series of portrait and landscape photographs.

Something I notice through all of Khadija’s work is her ability to find familiarity and gain trust within cultures sometimes seen as ‘the other’. ‘Home.Coming‘, ‘Crowned‘, ‘Eid‘, ‘Madame Jojo’s‘, all focus on different categories of the human experience yet notice how she has never been kept at arm’s length from her subject. I don’t feel the presence of a white tape that Saye is forced to photograph from behind when I observe her work. When capturing her subjects, for a time at least, Khadija is one with their environment and through her lens’ eye, the viewer is too.

For me, the unseen friendship-building and conversations Saye would have had with each person to earn their trust before the photo session conjures much intrigue. The above portraits arrest your gaze; the men’s eyes tell countless yet frustratingly unattainable stories. Khadija has stopped time but for a moment yet opened the door for myriads of questions – made sorrowfully more perplexing now they’ll go unanswered.

In another photograph from the series, a young girl smiles as she watches something out of the frame and in the below photograph a man leans on his prized Volkswagen, both beg a mountain of questions yet if we take a step back, we’ll find Khadija’s story told throughout the series.

Any second generation migrant knows all too well the conflicted notion of “home”, and from what I can only guess, Khadija travelled to The Gambia to find, explore and reflect on life in a home in which she did not live. While the content of Khadija’s photographs doesn’t answer the question of “did Khadija find self and the comfort of home while in The Gambia” but we need only look at her sitters to find our answer. As referenced previously, her subjects are unperturbed in front of the camera and this is likely because they were relaxed with their photographer. Any artist can tell you the anguish of requesting a portrait of a stranger only to watch their sudden discomfort when faced with the intrusive camera lenses flung in their face but notice the air of calm in Khadija’s work.

Yes, each photograph in the series contains countless untold stories, yet one is clear, and it’s the sitter’s tale of Khadija. As a photographer, she wasn’t a stranger in their midst nor a second generation displaced entity forcibly taking up shop in their domain; for that time if only for a moment, Khadija Saye was one with them – truly at home.

 

Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe

Khadija’s last exhibited work ‘Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe’ made with the help of artist, Almudena Romero, saw her once more exploring her heritage by investigating traditional Gambian spiritual practices and the comfort practitioners found in the arms of a higher power.

There is something remarkably poignant about her final project immortalised on such a physically existent format such as the tintype. By using tintypes, Khadija transformed her amorphous visual being, memory and legacy from a temporary state and gave it physical form. Unlike a digital file, memory or spoken recollection, her tintype image has weight, texture, smell and uniqueness the very same way our physical forms do; yet unlike us, her tintypes do not have an expiration date and will always remain.

The very idea of legacy and the pursuit of artists to leave a token in this world for after we pass, itself is a practice of spirituality. For all we know, there is no telling of what significance our life actions will play after our lives come to an end, yet we attempt to leave proofs of our existence to tell the future world “I was here and I existed.”

In the tintype images, Khadija is depicted in a ritual using sacred Gambian artefacts meant for the purpose of connecting with the spiritual world from the physical plane. Now with her passing, there is a spiritual awakening of ideas and ways of reflecting within the viewer. Now as we gaze upon the imagery, it is us the viewer who are being connected with Khadija and in turn, linked spiritually to the “once was”.It is through Khadija’s immortalisation of Gambian ritual that we now look upon her from this physical plane despite what would be considered by many religions as her soul ascending to a higher state of being.

I’ll admit that the above sounds somewhat of a stretch and likely not what the project was intended to symbolise, but it did cast a light on my scepticism towards schools of beliefs that I do not understand. In reflecting on the work, my own westernised perception of spiritual ritual has come into question. For myself at least, the actions depicted by Khadija provides a brand new outlook and way of seeing such ceremony.

For some of those raised in the UK, the idea of spirituality and non-conventional western religion is sometimes considered as something of myth or fantasy, not necessarily through conscious choice but through our conditioned view of pre-evangelised spirituality.

In Sir Edward Burnett Tylor’s 1887 book (now somewhat offensively entitled) ‘Primitive Culture’, he gave the broad belief that spirituality can be attributed to ritual and inanimate objects the name ‘Animisim’.

Note: ‘Animisim’ does not exclusively describe the Gambian ritual Khadija explored in her project but broadly refers to the school of similar beliefs held by people throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia throughout history. Hopefully an anthropologist or practitioner of the specific belief Khadija explored can provide a more suitable title for us to use in this essay.

While coining the English term for the phrase, Tylor knew he was generalising a large number of people, but he did so out of frustration with writers of his day who saw such displays and dismissed them as illegitimate forms of spirituality.

“Short of the organised and established theology of the higher races as being a religion at all. They attribute irreligion to tribes whose doctrines are unlike theirs”. – Taylor 1887

The link between the photographic process and spirituality is also drawn upon in the accompanying text for ‘Diaspora Pavilion 2017’ where the works are currently held on display.

“The process of submerging the collodion covered plate into a tank of silver nitrate ignites memories of baptisms.” – Disapora Pavilion 2017

It is clear Khadija found a spiritual link at every step of this project even choosing herself as the subject when producing the tintypes but rather than theorising or projecting, it’s only right to let the words that accompany the project have the final word:

“This work is based on the search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges. We exist in the marriage of physical and spiritual remembrance. It is in these spaces that we identify with our physical and imagined bodies. Using herself as the subject, Saye felt it was necessary to physically explore how trauma is embodied in the black experience.” – Disapora Pavilion 2017

 

Notice how throughout Khadija’s entire body of work, there’s a level of thinking that transcends just the art of seeing. All three projects spoken about above are unique individual displays of artistry and wonderous displays of photography worth that of an artist far beyond Khadija’s years.

‘Crowned’, ‘Home.Coming’ and ‘Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe’, are all linked only by the artist of origin and much like Khadija, they mean and will continue to mean so much to so many different people. Reminiscent of the Khadija that I knew from across the lecture theatre, not a lot is shouted nor is it displayed with over-the-top performance – because work and artists with true substance donesn’t require such theatrics.

This week we sadly lost Khadija, but not her contribution to the artistic world.

 

See more from Khadija’s portfolio on www.sayephotography.co.uk

 

 

 

LFWM: SS18 CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN – BACKSTAGE

 

Backstage at Christopher Raeburn SS18 photographed exclusively for FAULT by Chidubem/Lost in Talent

 

Dua Lipa dishes on debut album in exclusive Fault shoot and interview

FAULT first featured Dua Lipa as one of our ones to watch for 2016 back in Issue 23. Building a fiercely loyal fanbase, we all held our breath in anticipation for what would come in the future. Now it’s 2017 and Dua is a household name from her single releases alone and with the arrival of her debut album today, we caught back up with Dua to see what’s new, what’s changed and what’s still FAULTY.

It’s finally here, is it weird to know your album is finally out?

It’s exciting and I think it’ll be weird on the day. In fact, it’s the morning after that I think will be the most crazy as it’ll be out. I’ve not been able to add to it for a little while and it’s just been really exciting to see it come together.

 

You spoke to FAULT about a year ago and your mind-set was very much in the place of “I’m free to write about anything I want so I’m going to” – has your mind-set changed since then?

Now I’m really focussing on being present and mindful in everything I do, it’s all about enjoying the journey.

 

Back then you said your FAULT was that you overwork – would you say that’s changed since then?

I’m still working hard because I love what I do although I’m not overthinking anymore and that’s something I’ve consciously made a decision to do. It’s not worth dwelling over and for me, if it feels right at the time I might as well just go for it and live in the present and then move on to the next thing.

 

What’s been your favourite moment so far?

I’ve really enjoyed being on tour and I love being able to go on tour and see different places. I just came back from southeast Asia and it’s interesting to see and amazing to find that I have an audience over there. It’s been really great.

 

Are you the same Dua when you’re on stage compared to when you’re in the studio?

I’m not; when I’m in the studio I’m more contained and a lot of emotion goes into really telling my story through my vocal and my lyrics. When I’m on stage, it’s a lot about just having fun and it all goes in waves. You start dancing, then you have a cry but we always send you home dancing again and I feel like when I’m on stage and as much as I get my emotions across I also make sure my audience is having fun. I can feed off the audience more on stage also, if they’re having a good time then I’m having a good time.

 

You’ve just released your song with Miguel also – how did that come about?

He’s always been an artist that I loved and admired for his work as a songwriter so I reached out and he was lovely and got back and said “let’s do it!”. I’ve done collaborations with artists before ever meeting them but with Miguel, I was able to form that relationship with him through writing together in the studio.

 

Through much of your career music writers have described you as “the next big thing” and we’ve all been told your album “will be great” – now we draw closer to release do you feel a lot of pressure to live up to the hype placed on you?

I feel pressure; there’s always pressure that comes with people’s expectations of you but during my career I’ve been very lucky to have people put me on their ones to watch lists and it’s helped me get to where I am but also pushed me to tell myself “I have to make sure all these people are right”. I don’t want people to look back at those articles like “oh, whatever happened to Dua?”, so yes there’s pressure to work hard to prove them and myself right.

 

What’s your plan post-release?

The day the album comes out I fly to NYC for Governor’s Ball and I’ll be there for a couple days and then I play festival season until September. From October through the end of the year I’ll have my album tour and then I’m off on tour with Bruno Mars! As crazy as it sounds, I’ve already started work on the 2nd album and I’ll focus a bit on that in January.

 

Is writing still fluid?

I feel like so much has happened that I need to write about and when I get into the studio I just add those words to melody.

 

Favourite tongue twister?

Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of Pickled Peppers.

What is your FAULT?

The album not coming out in February, because it was completely my doing.

 

Was it the right decision?

Absolutely! I was upset, my fans were upset and it was entirely my FAULT but I’m really happy I did and because I released so many songs I’ve been able to put some new songs on the album and have it sounding brand new.

 

Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut album is out today.

Words Miles Holder

Photography Jack Alexander

Makeup Francesca Brazzo

Hair Anna Cofone

FAULT Weekly Playlist: Chimes

Dance pop duo CHIMES (Jamie Draper and Paul Aiden) recently released their anticipated, Ninety Four EP, a collection of genre bending tracks that integrate elements of electronic, R&B and pop with an undeniable commercial appeal.

Over the past year, the pair have steadily been establishing an online presence, garnering regular support from BBC Introducing. Aside from singles releases, Ninety Four is their first body of work for CHIMES and showcases Jamie and Paul’s penchant for creating infectious dance pop tunes.

We asked CHIMES to put together some of their current favorite tracks including Little Dragon and HONNE. Stream it below!

Little Dragon – Twice

“We both have an eclectic taste in music but we find common ground in the abstract. This and the next track both speak wonders in style and character. We’ve sat back in the studio listening to these to ‘reset.'”

Radiohead – Burn The Witch

“Everything in this has its rightful place. Nothing is wasted. It takes several listens to appreciate it.”

Washed Out – Feel It All Around

“Love this one, really sets a scene which we try to do with our music. It’s an instant vibe, no prep needed.”

Galantis – Runaway (U & I)

“When this first came out it was a smash hit. It was a really inspiring track in terms of its writing. Great one to get pumped to on the way to the studio or show.”

Frank Ocean – Swim Good

“Paul is one to really channel inspiration from this, I like it too but Paul’s the leader on this.”

HONNE & Izzy Bizu – Someone That Loves You

“Another studio chill/break track that really helps reset your ears. It’s one of the smoothest tracks I know and love.”

CHIMES Socials:
SoundCloud
Facebook
Twitter

FAULT Magazine Reviews: Roast, Borough Market

 

London’s Borough Market has always home to foodies and street food lovers and for over a decade, Roast has been at the centre of the hype surrounding the area.With Summer just around the corner, FAULT is on the quest to bring you the very best of dining experiences in London for our 2018 “Where To Dine This Summer Guide” and with that in mind, we headed down to see if it would live up to all the hype!

On entering the restaurant, you’re instantly transported from the hustle and bustle of the street below and welcomed to the cosmopolitan and modernly furnished restaurant; not what one would expect from an establishment priding itself on being “deliciously British” but that’s not to say the restaurant is stale and lifeless, quite the opposite. Located over two floors of Floral Hall, the restaurant is spacious and from our table, we could see marvel at views of St Pauls and The Shard – all rather elegant.

The aperitif menu is expansive and that’s without mentioning the welcoming bar at the front of the restaurant. We started with a Sweet Black Manhattan- not too sweet and not too bitter either, a perfect start.

 

Starter Menu:

Rock oysters with Scrubby Oak apple vinegar and shallots 6 Carlingford 18.50 / 12 Carlingford 36.00 6 Jersey 17.50 / 12 Jersey 34.00

Scallops with spiced apple tea raisins, cauliflower and cashew nuts 14.00

Baked charcoal cheddar soufflé with oyster mushrooms and chives 8.50

Baby kale with sprouting beans, avocado, miso aubergine, feta and salted almonds 10.25

 

 

From the starter menu above, you’d be forgiven for thinking the flavours (on paper at least) wouldn’t be anything to write home about but alas you’d be wrong. I went with the cheddar soufflé with my dining guest choosing the less adventurous scallops. The soufflé you’ll be happy to know tastes exceptionally better than it looks – well bodied and well complimented by oyster mushrooms and chives, at first I didn’t have the highest of hopes but Roast was able to put their own twist on the dish and serve up a real treat. My guest’s scallops were fried expertly and the adorning cashews were given the same fine treatment – if you do visit Roast, be sure not to jump straight to the mains.

With both of us deciding on red wine – we left it up to our waiter to choose a wine for us. We went with a modest Italian Bacchus Rosso Piceno Ciu Ciu and while it was nowhere near the most extravagant wine in their cellar – it certainly went down a treat.

For my main, I went for the beef wellington,  and it was truly cooked to perfection. Throughout the whole dining experience, Roast continued to take what is usually a standard flavoured dish and heightened it to gourmet standard. The exterior was light, crispy and just the right amount of butter glazed, which is a lot to say about the pastry alone but it really was perfect. The meat was flavoursome, tender and just how I wanted it. The course was accompanied with crispy roast potatoes which were but I’d highly recommend the ‘Creamed spinach with nutmeg’ as a side.

My dining guest went with the Hereford sirloin steak on the bone (400g) with chimichurri and chips and from what I hear, it was “banging” – which I can confirm is a positive trait. I did have a try and while the steak was indeed impressive – it also confirmed that our waiter who I asked to select the wine for us is an expert at wine pairing. The flavours of the meat and chimichurri were complimented extremely well with the juicy summer berry hints from the Bacchus Rosso Piceno Ciu Ciu.

Somehow I found room for the Eton Mess which was equally as exceptional but I’m running out of positive adjectives and word count so let’s move on.

So does the Roast make the list? It sure does! If you’re looking for the homely country pub style roast then setting wise, Roast is not going to provide the experience you crave but what if lacks in homeliness it more than makes up for in other areas. We’d highly recommend Roast for our readers looking to visit the quintessential foodie capital but still want a more refined meal than that served on the markets below. Roast is where you go when quality and taste are at the forefront of the experience. Not just for the leisurely diners, it also doubles as the perfect venue to host business lunches with non-locals who are looking to sample the very best of British food.

It must also be said that the service provided by all the staff, from the maître d to the waiters inside was exemplary and a great model for every high-end venue staff in the capital – great customer service needn’t be robotic and the Roast staff have mastered this.

If you’re looking for the best British food that London has to offer, look no further than Roast.

 

http://www.roast-restaurant.com/

 

Monday-Friday:

7am-11am, 12pm-3.45pm, 5.30pm-10.45pm

Saturday:

8.30am-11am, 12pm-3.45pm, 6pm-10.45pm

Sunday:

11.30am-6.30pm

 

 

FAULT Weekly Playlist: TOTEM

It’s always great to see more diversity in the music industry and TOTEM one of the artists cropping up that’s challenging perceptions. TOTEM is an Indian-American man who weaves smart political and social commentary into slick pop production. Proving that pop music doesn’t have to be thoughtless 4-on-the-floor beats, his skill of turning astute cultural criticism into catchy earworms is bringing him surprising success.

TOTEM is currently working on his EP, which will be out this summer, but before that we asked him to put together some of his current favorite songs. Take a listen below.

Calvin Harris – Heatstroke

“I love this new new disco feel that Calvin Harris is doing. This and Slide have been on repeat. Pharrell’s pre-chorus is so unexpected but feels so good. I loved Jamie XX’s last album and this is as close as we have come in pop music.”

Kodak Black – Tunnel Vision

“The hook is an earworm and that detuned sample in the background reminds me of a song from Lauryn Hill’s “Unplugged” album. You gotta listen to this under the influence in a dark room.”

Future – Mask Off

“I read something in the New York Times magazine about this song a couple weeks ago and it made me appreciate this song a lot more. I had no idea about Future’s personal transformation. Also, the recorder sample.”

Julia Michaels – Issues

“It’s great to see songwriters win as artists, and Julia Michaels deserves to win. She and Justin Tranter have been writing exclusively hits for over a year, and this one is no different.”

Vice feat. Jon Bellion – Obsession

“Jon Bellion is one of my favorite songwriters and vocalists. This is such a feel good tune.”

mansionz – Wicked

“I hate the shtick, but this song is really good.”

Drake – Blem

“My favorite song off the new Drake playlist. I really envy his melodic simplicity.”

KAYTRANADA – Got it Good

“I was really late on KAYTRANADA, but this is the song that got me. Nice to hear Craig David’s voice too. His kind of pop R&B is what the world is missing right now.”

Frank Ocean – Chanel

“I’m always amazed how many really dynamic melodies Frank Ocean can fit into one song. This one sounds so fresh but classic.”

Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

“Zedd is a musical genius. The drop in this song has so many elements I love— space, harmonies, vocoders. Simplicity at it’s most impactful.”

Love Saves The Day Festival Steps It Up For 2017

 

Eagle-eyed FAULT readers will remember the great fun the music team had at Love Saves The Day 2016 and as amazing that was, dare we say, 2017 is set to top it. Now in its sixth year, LSTD is not only a much-loved festival for Bristolians as people flock from all over to join in on the fun – as we will be this bank holiday weekend. Held in Bristol, one of the UK’s most diverse cities, the food and music and atmosphere on the day offers something for all people to love.

This year’s Saturday lineup features NAO, Little Dragon, Jamie Jones, Bicep and may more.

Sunday will see Kano, Kate Tempest, Shy FX, Aj.Tracey, BadBadNotGood, Raye, Mykki Blanco, Stefflon Don and many other FAULT Favourites take to the stage.

For more information and to grab your tickets to the festivities – head to http://lovesavestheday.org/

See you there!

 

 

 

 

Life On A Tightrope: A Story of Positivity from The Voice Israel’s First Palestinian Winner, Lina Makhul.

Photography: Jack Alexander
Hair & Makeup: Guy Tako

Words: Miles Holder

After receiving 62% of the overall vote, Lina Makhul first stormed to notoriety by becoming the first Palestinian winner of Israel’s, The Voice. Lina’s road to victory was not an easy one, however; during her acceptance speech Lina alluded to the cyber bullying that attempted to halt her ascension through the competition but emblematic of her always positive attitude, she mainly used the time to thank the Israeli public for voting in spite of their cultural differences.

That was 2013 and while Lina has made a name for herself in Israel, she is still relatively unknown on the global music scene – before today…With the release of Lina’s music video for track ‘Can’t Keep Falling’, FAULT travelled to Israel to photograph and interview Lina during her two-day music video shoot and to discuss just what it takes to become Israel’s most exciting new artist.

Meeting Lina, she is outgoing, fun, bubbly and talkative but despite her “devil may care” attitude, it’s clear that beneath her outward demeanour, she is an extremely focussed, business minded and determined musician who is no stranger to a hard work. Day one was a nineteen-hour video shoot in the middle of the Judean desert and not a minute went by when Lina wasn’t hard at work.

 

 

 

FAULT: How do you stay so positive?

Lina: I love doing what I do and I’m always positive because I’m living my one true dream.

Becoming the first Palestinian to win a major singing contest in Israel’s history while, a great feat, it also came at a price. Lina’s win saw her became the shared success story of two famously opposing houses – a large weight to bear for any nineteen-year-old.

 

FAULT: The Voice wasn’t the first time in your life that you faced persecution. How did you overcome the challenge of connecting with the Israeli public?

Lina: If you want to get to people’s heart, you must first allow them into your heart. I couldn’t force them to like me, it was about opening my heart to the audience and allowing them to make a decision on me through what they saw. We’re all people at the end of the day and I think that’s how I made people forget about the typecasting and political undertones of my being on The Voice.

 

FAULT: Do you ever fall into the trap of trying to please everyone at your own demise?

Lina: Yes, but it’s part of the everyday struggle of being a Palestinian in Isreal. I’ve always made it my mission to prove that Palestinians are really no different from Israelis. Our culture and language might be different but at the end of the day, we’re all citizens of the world and should see past it.

When I won The Voice I was only nineteen and I barely knew who I was but despite that, I was trying to please everyone and that made it was very difficult for me to find myself. I was always so scared to upset a group of people that I would lose all personality. It’s different now and I’m tired of it – my opinion is mine and mine alone and if I can go to sleep happy with what I’ve said that day, then I will continue to live my life this way.

I’ve realised that I don’t have to be the ambassador of anyone but myself and because I am such a supporter of my Palestinian roots and Israeli/ USA upbringing, they will all be proud of me for striving for success in all of their names.

 

 

Listening to tracks taken from Lina’s upcoming album, it’s no doubt that Lina can sing. While there are often negative connotations with television competitions winners, Lina’s vocal range and rich tones, place her on a par (and in many cases above) that of contemporary western musicians. This is as true with her up-tempo tracks as it is with her more sombre ballads, but don’t take my words on it alone – FAULT’s previous cover stars Adam Lambert and Alicia Keys have both also taken a liking to Lina.

 

Lina: I downloaded Alicia Keys’ latest album and I loved it for how real it was. She totally exposed herself and revealed so much. Her song Holy War just touched me so much as an American born Palestinian living in Israel, I just needed to record it. I wrote out the words in Arabic and just put everything out there and sang about a number of modern day issues which were weighing on my mind. About a month later, my phone freezes and I’m so confused but it turns out that I was just being inundated with messages from fans that Alicia Keys had shared my version with.

I just love her, I’ve loved all her music and even when I auditioned for The Voice I sang one of her songs.

In 2016, Queen and Adam Lambert brought their tour to Israel and hand picked a local talent that would embody their own personal flare of individualism – that person was Lina.

I got the call three months before the show from my manager but I honestly didn’t believe it would ever happen. I thought “no way, they’ll cancel on me”. It didn’t hit me until the concert that it was actually happening. Queen, Adam Lambert, fifty thousand people and I was so scared but the minute I went on stage I just snapped into action. I closed my eyes when I started singing and when I opened them I had the whole audience singing back to me.

 

FAULT: You’ve also gone on to cover ‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’ mixing Arabic and English lyrics on your album.

Lina: After the concert, I fell in love with the moment and I wanted to cherish it forever. I went back to the studio and the minute we were done I said “excuse me for a second I want to do something” and I started writing lyrics in Arabic to add to the song and everyone loved it and it felt so good that the lyrics just came out without me even putting pen to paper.

 

 

However, the time for covers is over and Lina is ready to release her original material. Above you’ll find Lina’s first music video for ‘Can’t Keep Falling’ which was co-written by Lina herself.

 

FAULT: Now that it’s out, how do you feel about the track?

Lina: I just love the song and not because it’s my song, it’s just me and I’d love it even if a different artist was singing it.

While ‘Can’t Keep Falling’ is a perfect choice and released at the right time as we enter the summer season, Lina’s album is also laden with personal musical numbers, none more personal than the albums title track ‘Walking On A Tightrope’. The track conveys Lina’s musical journey and her diverse cultural upbringing as she sings in both English and Arabic. The beautiful song penned by the legendary Karen Poole.

 

FAULT: Tell us the story behind ‘Walking On A Tightrope’

Lina: It all started when I was recording in London with Karen and she turns and says, “I feel like your whole life story has been you walking on this tightrope. You’re from Palestine but you won The Voice Israel and now you’re here in London being very careful with the words you say and trying to please so many people” and it just got to me on a deeper level. My life is a tightrope, one filled with ups and downs and shaky moments but that is also true for many different people out there.
As personal as the song is to me, it also rings true for many other people from different walks of life and it’s that shared experience that reinforces the notion that we are all bound by our similarities and not divided by them.

 

 

FAULT: You have a lot of personal songs on the album, is it hard to put so much of your story out there for public scrutiny?

Lina: After The Voice I was so scared to put out music that I wrote; I didn’t want people to know how I really felt, I just wanted people to know what I wanted them to know and let that be it. Now, I need to share my life with the audience. I want them to know who I am. It’s a privilege to have people care about my opinion so I owe it to my audience to be truthful.

FAULT: And Lastly, what is your FAULT?

Lina: I’m impatient and want everything to happen straight away! When I record a new song, I just want to release it there and then and for my fans to hear my whole album straight away but I’m learning the importance of taking it slow and releasing when my music is perfectly me.

 

Returning back to the UK, there is no doubt in our mind that Lina has a bright future in music ahead of her. With a strong first single and many equally as strong follow-ups to come in the near future, Lina has all the potential take the European and American music scene by storm. Be it her empathic songwriting,
her continued messages of unity, her powerhouse vocal or her fierce yet endearing personality – while no longer forcing it, Lina will continue to be a musician to mean so much to many different people.

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