With her debut solo album Ya Nass (2013), Yasmine Hamdan introduced her personal, modern take on Arabic pop.
In Al Jamilat ('The Beautiful Ones'), she pursues her musical exploration, while taking a look at the mutations at work within the Arab world.
While Yasmine's vocals are definitely connected to traditions of Arabic music (to which she takes an unconventional and fresh approach), the structures and arrangements of the songs are very remote from its codes, and take in elements from contemporary Western electronic, pop and folk music.
Her unique vision is fully realised in this new album, which she jointly produced with UK producers Luke Smith (Foals, Depeche Mode, Lily Allen) and Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Carl Barât), and recorded with contributions from NY musicians Shahzad Ismaily (Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, John Zorn, Marc Ribot) and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley.
Yasmine is a wanderer, she's lived in half a dozen countries and has been immersed in as many cultures. The making of this album couldn't therefore be anything else but a voyage, during which she collected and merged sounds & ideas, interacting along the way with a variety of people, nurturing her reflections and enriching the sociopolitical awareness which always runs through her lyrics.
The release of the Ya Nass album has been getting tremendous attention in Europe and America, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East (where Yasmine Hamdan has enjoyed iconic stature since the days of Soapkills, the duet she had founded in her native Beirut, which was one of the first indie/electronic bands in the Middle East).
She's performed prestigious shows on four continents (including a series of concerts for the launch of the Jim Jarmusch movie "Only Lovers Left Alive", in which she's featured singing, onscreen, in one of the film's most memorable scenes).
Hailed as ‘Arabic music’s modern voice’ (New York Times), Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan first emerged onto the music scene with Soapkills, the pioneering indie electronic band she founded along with Zeid Hamdan in Beirut in the late ’90s. The band gradually acquired an emblematic status and, to this day, Yasmine is considered an underground icon throughout the Arab world.
Later moving to Paris, Yasmine teamed up with Madonna’s producer Mirwais, and under the Y.A.S. moniker, recorded the album Arabology, released in 2009 by Universal France. In 2012, Yasmine joined forces with Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin to produce her debut solo album, Ya Nass, released by Crammed Discs in Europe in 2013 and in Japan and the USA in early 2014. One of the album’s tracks, ‘Hal’ was featured in Jim Jarmusch’s film Only Lovers Left Alive and was a contender for the 2014 Oscar Award for Best Original Song.
‘Ya Nass’ has received wide critical acclaim across Europe, North America and the Arab region, with major media outlets including CNN, BBC World News, Arte, ZDF, France 24, NPR, KCRW, France Inter, Le Figaro, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Herald Tribune, UK Metro, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Al Hayat and Al Arabiya praising her work. She has been a guest on British television’s top live music show ‘Later... with Jools Holland’ on the BBC, and on NPR’s popular American music show, Tiny Desk Concerts.
‘Ya Nass’ also made it onto the NPR list of Best World Music Albums for 2014 and the song ‘Deny’ from the album was featured on NPR’s Favourite Songs of 2014 list. A seasoned performer, Yasmine has appeared on stages around the world, including the Sydney Opera House (Australia), Byblos Music Festival (Lebanon), Olympia, Trianon & Gaîté Lyrique (Paris), Francofolies (Montreal), Meltdown Festival, Glastonbury, Roundhouse & Royal Albert Hall (London), Haus Der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Qasr El Nil (Cairo) Sziget Festival (Hungary), Akbank Festival (Istanbul) and Kyoto Music Exposition Festival (Kyoto).
Over the last ten years, beyond releasing albums and performing across the globe, Yasmine has composed film scores and developed several artistic projects, including an original piece for the TED video, ‘The Power of X’. She has collaborated with movie directors such as Elia Suleiman, Ghassan Salhab & more, and has written music for a Comédie Française production of a play by Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous.
In the summer of 2014, Yasmine was honoured with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres title by the French Minister of Culture. Today, Yasmine is the only Arab vocalist singing in Arabic on stage for audiences worldwide from Tokyo to the USA.