Famous to all “meykhana” genre goes through interesting changes. And if Uzeir self produces and makes those very changes on an intuitive level, Ya Tosiba scrutinizes and works in this genre in more detailed way.
A beautiful Azerbaijani woman Zuzu Zakaria made a splash, at least in the Turkic-speaking society. Her interest in meykhana outgrew the observation mark and she decided to obtain a master’s degree from the faculty of the Turkic knowledges and defended the thesis work on meykhana. All these were happening in Oslo, Norway.
Then she decides to move to Germany, where “fateful” collaboration with Finnish “smart boy” Tatu occurred. Oeuvre of Tatu begins in the early 90’s with the release of audio cassettes in the Finnish underground. In his turn,Tatu is known for his pioneering activities in the so-called skweee (electro funk) and harmönia genres , where he used the stage name Mesak.
The first musical release of the project began with the edition of “Mad Barber” vinyl in the 2012, followed by the release of the album “Mollah The Machine”, from which the famous track “Maşın” came out (which was one of the soundtracks for the film #Yoxdubeləsöhbət of the local director Ru Hasanov). And later, a remix vinyl for this album was released.
The music of Ya Tosiba is a mixture of Arabic and Persian melodies, traditional sizes is 6/8 and its variations (meykhana, toykhana, national music), elements of hip-hop and classical electronic sound.
Such a familiar / native sound of 6/8, modified stylistically. That sound that can be understood and even accepted by European.
Zuzu’s vocals are so gentle and “vicious”. Moreover, not at all traditional. For a normal citizen of Azerbaijan, a woman in meykhana, something that cannot be by default.
All of these are flavored with the texts of Azerbaijani contemporaries and not only. Themes are different – a fairy tale – dastan about a king and a goat, religious violence, the arrangement of a traditional ghazals of Nasimi. The album also reveals the usual “human” concerns about a football, a huge number of machines. There is even a song about “Arif Adam”. But behind all of this from the beginning to the very end the topic is resistance, comparison and collation is stretched.
You can find all of this in wonderful album “Love Party”.
In this project, the intellect, the native tradition, the “non-vulgarised” European perception came together. We should have a lot of music out there like that.
We asked a few questions for Zuzu. Not in journalist style, but simple, ordinary questions.
— When was the last time you were in Baku?
— In last twenty years, I was in Baku three times. Last time I was back there in 2015.
— What is currently happening in Baku from your point of view?
— I know that Baku has its own authentic jazz school. Moreover, groups that make covers are popular there. Unfortunately, I am not in Baku and I can not say exactly what is happening there now. As for electronic scene, I would like to see it to develop, as it happens in Georgia.
— Is there a desire to come here and give a real big concert? Maybe it’s time already?
— Yes, it is time. I’ve not received any serious invitations of a performance yet. I think it’s due to serious limitations in the budget.
— Do you follow what is happening in the Baku underground?
— I feel underground of Baku clubs while sitting in the caves of Finland! I feel their vibrations 😉 It is a joke. You have to research underground scene by being locally there. To have an idea of this , you must be “here and now.” If you hear of it from afar, then it’s no longer underground. Of course I have my own ideas of it and I’m familiar with musicians and artists, who creates music and are busy with other types of art.
— Are you completely Europeanized or are there such details of the Azerbaijani mentality that are difficult to get rid of? Maybe you do not want it at all?
— I am often asked about art – how do I use my native language, melodies and how I mix it with electronic music. I do not perceive this as style mix or fusion. I use neither oriental details nor other means of expression. I consider myself as an oriental woman with European background. It is natural for me and I am honest with myself. I don’t know how to Europeanize, when Europe itself is not homogeneous.
— Why did you decide to use exactly Azerbaijani lyrics? Because in percentage terms by European standards there are few people who will understand them. Is understanding of the lyrics that important for you?
— This did not happen intentionally. Just happened. I like to sing also in Norwegian. It is not important for me if lyrics are understandable or not. There a lot of singers, mainly in electro music genre that not singing in English. In other words for me vocal is just a tool as an instrument which I use in my compositions.
— And of course, tell us about projects related to your oeuvre.
— In the near future remixes will be released, after which I will seriously work on my next album. I аlso have some plans about collaborations.
English text was translated from Russian oriinal.