It’s not hard to understand that most genres are influenced by what’s going on in the world, and I don’t mean just pop culture. I’m talking about politics, war, famine, the issues that really get people emotional. That being said, it is a bit hard for me to understand how Fatima Al Qadiri’s new EP is charged with raw emotion, emotion given to Fatima from her experiences during the Gulf War.
Al Qadiri’s backstory is a bit more complex than most, being raised in Kuwait in the midst of the American invasion of the country. She was nine years old when the war began, but that was also the first time she ever came into concrete contact with a keyboard. Fast forward twenty years into an electronic world taken over by dubstep, bassheads, and genre-bending artists, Al Qadari’s “Genre Specific Xperience” is released on New York-based label UNO, and she finally hits the musical jackpot.
Though she did have a minimix as Ayshay that was as fascinating as it was great, she had never managed to hit it big as a solo artist. Also a successful writer and visual artist, she draws influences from both her experiences in Kuwait and the video game Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, where the title of the EP is more than likely drawn from. The song titles, most specifically “War Games” and “Ghost Raid”, are clearly influenced by her experiences during the Gulf War, and even the art is, though keeping true to their the digitally clear-but-abstract way, somewhat depicting a war scene.
There’s absolutely no denying that Al Qadiri is a proud Kuwait-American, and a cultural icon in some regard. Very few artists, especially in this growing electronic realm, don’t have this kind of life experience, and it definitely makes Fatima more than just a pusher of buttons.
Musically, the Desert Strike EP is quite brilliant. From her use of exotic elements, from steel drums to Arabic chimes, to her perfectly placed drums and gun cocking samples. “Oil Well” uses chorus vocals to enhance the serenity of the song, and off-pitch synths to make it a sort of paradoxical track, especially coming after the absolute shredder that is “Ghost Raid”. All of these have that unique Middle Eastern vibe to them, creating an ambience that only Al Qadiri can capture, and so beautifully nonetheless.