Throughout history there have always been seismic events within generations that shape the world in which we live, redefining the way in which we creatively express ourselves and how we connect with culture and people around us.
Whether the roaring 20’s, a period of economic prosperity with a cultural edge born from the ashes of the first world war and Spanish flu pandemic or the youth driven cultural revolution of the swinging 60’s, a statement of intent that saw bleak conservative cities transform into a technicolor celebration of hope, freedom and promise. The one certainty within life is that there will always be periods of turbulence and strife, followed by a period of cultural renaissance shaped by the collective experience in which we have just endured.
Rewind twelve months to the middle of 2020 and the world was in the initial throes of one of the biggest crises that has engulfed the planet in more than 100 years.
Venues shuttered, confined to sporadic periods of isolation, our wings officially grounded. For those of us that live a colorful life of social interaction it was certainly a period of sobering reflection as our creative, free kindred spirits were forced to take a long and baron sabbatical as the world went on pause.
Whilst the planet gathered it’s thoughts and we were constantly reminded of what was deemed the new normal, at times it often felt like our overly extrovert personas were confined to the dustbins of history.
One creative industry that has been impacted most throughout this period of stillness has been the music industry. Across the world stages have remained empty, the lights dimmed and the speakers silenced as audiences have been kept away in their masses.
Whilst the initial economic shock from the fallout of being prohibited from performing subsides, many artists have used these turbulent times to take stock, rejuvenate and stand by, ready in the wings for that moment when the wonderful world of performance is ready to take to the stage once more. We spent the afternoon catching up with Jaymie Deville, Layla Kardan and FAFA, three of the UAE’s leading, homegrown performance artists and got a deeper insight into how the last twelve months have redefined their creative journey.
Dan: How were you able to keep your music alive during the global crisis in the past year and a half and how has this moment in time affected you both personally and professionally.
Jaymie: Although it’s been challenging, most of my discography has been released throughout the pandemic so it is literally all I know at this point.
But to answer the question, I need to make music to feel myself so I guess just staying creative and trusting the process has been my strength. People always need music. If we can get through this we can get through anything.
Because of the circumstances It freed up a lot of time for me to focus on only making music, becoming a more skilled producer, being more self reliant and most importantly it enabled me to finish all of the projects I’d been working on the past 2 years. The next 12 months will be explosive as far as releases go.
Layla: I was able to keep my music alive by producing songs and creating visual assets for the project. I’d also get together in small groups with fellow musicians to jam/improvise. I don’t know what I would do without music during this dark period. I had a rollercoaster of emotions – plenty of ups and downs and too much time to think.
Ultimately I am a survivor and so I got creative by producing shoots and creating different ways to share art and make money. I am now working on an amazing project that I can’t wait to share with Dubai. I guess the pandemic forced me to explore other opportunities and that’s why I am where I am today.
FaFa: The pandemic redefined who I want to be and what my purpose is. It forced me to really focus on where I want my music to go and what messages I want to convey. I have been working on expressing myself more clearly through my lyrics and constantly looking for inspiration whether it is through experiences, environment or people. My expression is more honest and true to who I am.
Since entertainment was closed and I could no longer be on stage in front of a live audience, I spent this year and a half focusing on my growth as an individual and my mental health. I focused on writing and finding new ways to create music that reflects that journey.
This period has been both positive and negative. Prior to the pandemic I would procrastinate a lot more because it would still be there tomorrow. Now, I do not hesitate to do things that make me happy and I am more for living for the moment that I was before. This pandemic has taught me a lot of lessons that I am translating into the new material I have been working on and I am hoping to share by the end of 2021. It has majorly impacted the way I view myself as an artist and it was the perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board and work on improving my craft.
Dan: Some of the biggest creative periods in history are born from times of great disruption. What do you think the future holds and what advice would you give to talent during this rebuild and growth?
Layla: I have been through a rough time myself so all I can say is that, from my personal experiences, there is always light at the of the tunnel. I believe it’s important to remain steadfast, spiritual, and disciplined to your craft and dreams. Things may not always turn out exactly as expected, but there’s always a silver lining. It’s crazy for me to see in my own life how when I find gratitude for the small things, the big things seem to fall into place.
FaFa: I think the pandemic was the best time to really focus on improving as a creative person. It really pushed me to take my music more seriously and make something that I would be proud of. If I were to give any advice, I would tell creatives to keep creating because by expressing their truth through music, they are able to connect with the audience and bring comfort and positivity.
Jaymie: I think the future is very unpredictable right now and if I’m being honest – I don’t have a clue what this new world is going to look and feel like. It’s moving at an exponential rate. Music will continue to help make sense of the times that we’re living in. Good music will always be around and it is valued by the masses.
To be able to create something great you must first learn to put aside your ego and If you create from the heart almost everything works, if you create from the head, almost nothing will. Take on outside opinions but ALWAYS trust your gut. You don’t need to sign a deal to get millions of streams and have impact. You need good music.
DB: Finally, what can we expect from you in the years ahead?
FaFa: I am setting out to go international. I want my music to spread as far as it can reach and touch as many hearts as it can. I know this period has been difficult for a lot of us. I want my music to help heal and comfort people, and make them dance! I am fired up to get back on stage and I can’t wait to see everyone vibing out to live music again!
Jaymie: I plan on releasing as much music as possible, touring, festivals, life on the road , not necessarily being pinned down to a city, collaborating with like-minded artists and really sinking my teeth into the music industry.
Layla: I am currently working on my new album with an amazing producer from LA – Benny Cassette. I can’t wait to get into the studio and share that. My future ambitions are to open my own Contemporary Cabaret, which is currently in process, and once it’s opened everyone is invited.
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