Soukaina Fahsi On Musical Identity and Moroccan Heritage (Interview)

Written by Amal Asebriy

With her passion and peculiar voice, Soukaina Fahsi was able to stand out on the international scene on tours in Portugal, Spain, and Cape Verde. The talented free soul rose to prominence with an impressive performance at Arabs Got Talent in 2019, followed by an outstanding cover of the famous Moroccan song Kharboucha. On June 16th, she enchanted the audience in the Gnaoua Festival Tour with a fusion stage in Casablanca.

Moroccan Ladies: How did the collaboration with Hassan Boussou, Piers Faccini, Cyril Atef & Malik Ziad, for the Gnaoua Festival Tour go?

We had three days of artists’ residency/ rehearsals in which everyone brought their own unique universe. It was the best of five worlds where each one had the opportunity to learn from and get inspired by the other. Quite an enriching experience!

Your melodies have an inspiration from Flamenco, Jazz, sometimes Malhoun, Gnaoua, Aïta… How would you describe your musical style?

I am not an expert in describing. What I’m going to say, however, is that I’m a bohemian in life. Thus my relationship with music has never been tied to a certain genre or style, and so I’m not going to make the mistake of labeling myself.  As with life, being a researcher in geology, I’m in constant pursuit of truth and freedom within my music.

 What are your artistic influences?

I had been a member of El Jadida’s Youth Club since a young age where I grew up listening to ancestral music like Gharnati, Melhoun, El-Ala, or even French classical music in the Music Conservatory of El Jadida. My interest then shifted to the underground scene while I played with alternative bands like ‘Heat spirit‘ or ‘Tawada‘. I believe that the beautiful mix of all these experiences has helped shape the style that I came out with solo in 2018 with ‘Kharboucha’ and ‘Joudia’.

Soukaina Fahsi’s Fusion Stage with Hassan Boussou, Piers Faccini, Cyril Atef & Malik Ziad Gnaoua Festival Tour in Casablanca

 Your rendition of Kharboucha was a big hit.  As a person who likes challenges, would you consider covering other songs from the Moroccan musical heritage?

Of course! It should be pointed out though that the Moroccan musical heritage is broad. ‘Kharboucha’ in particular belonged to the Aita register, which in itself branches into several divisions. As a person who likes to shed light on hidden gems, a bit like an archeologist, I will continue my quest in the vast legacy that is Moroccan music and hopefully bring it back to life with a fresh rendition, although I doubt that a lifetime would be enough to do so (laughs).

 Your art seems to reflect your state of mind through lyrics and melodies. What motivates you to create?

I create as a form of self-expression. In fact, the biggest perk of being an artist is the ability to express oneself and send messages through art. Sometimes it may regard personal matters, others, it may be about societal issues that everyone relates with.

Do you consider yourself an activist? If so, what are the issues that you feel strongly about?

I am an activist so to speak when it comes to matters that I care deeply about. These might not always be permanent however, they change as I change and grow. Recently, after an encounter with a musician of the dying Aita Ljabaliya register, my interest has been leaning more towards the promotion of local artists and the preservation and enhancement of Morocco’s musical heritage. Further, coming from an environmentalist background, I also care about issues related to the environment like global warming, plastic pollution in the oceans, and more…

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

After the inspiration comes to the creation. So an EP may be around the corner with four original songs, in which I explore the local sounds of each region of the kingdom from north to south.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

I would like to be the artist of the 21st century who not only revisits Morocco’s musical heritage but also enriches and upgrades it.