therealzizikanaan – Voices (Interview)

London-based artist therealzizikanaan is the creative project of Zizi Kanaan, an ambitious producer and singer-songwriter who was born in Athens, to Lebanese and American parents. Recently, she released “Voices”, a 17-minute-long musical output on which she has been working, mostly alone, with her computer. The songs and interludes that are featured in “Voices” are based on free sounds and recordings uncovered in the vast library that is the internet.

As therealzizikanaan explains it:

In the music I try to communicate a world of flux and movement – a place where sounds don’t resolve, don’t solidify; where settling into any one space for too long feels wrong. I’m pushing and pulling at boundaries, blurring together moments, scenes, observations, stories. I want to create music that’s imbued with its own sense of temporality, where structures define themselves only briefly, appearing as a soft outline in the mist, and then disappearing, becoming undefined, dreamlike, a trace, a memory.

In order to avoid any misinterpretations and to understand the ambition and the idea of the therealzizikanaan, we had the chance to interview her and to ask her some questions about “Voices”

1) Who is Zizi Kanaan? What is your story?

I haven’t written my story yet. I’m still figuring out what it all means.

2) How the concept of “Voices” came to you?

Well, there is so much that can be heard and communicated through the voice – not only through singing, but through noises, grunts, breath, tuning, tone, and style… The voice has the potential to mirror our deepest unconscious forces, patterns, emotions. It can bring you to a deeply spiritual place, it can reach into the psyche like a hand into darkness and pull you into the infinite…. All this is very difficult to explain, I guess. Basically, I feel that in some vague but powerful way, music has helped me become a better and more complete person – so I thought it would be nice to dedicate these first three songs to the voice.

3) Do you plan to bring this concept on tour?

Yes, the plan is to take it live in the next few months, then tour it next year.

4) Is there a particular artist you would love to collaborate with?

Maybe someone like Sturgill Simpson…? I really like the energy of that sort of country music, that kind of raw, classic sound. His recent London gig was great.

5) You draw inspiration from flux. You were born in Athens. You now live in London. Where do you feel home?

I don’t really know! I guess I feel at home around the people I love, and in nature. I’m a very fortunate person – I was born into a loving home, in a secure country. I’m half Lebanese, so of course that whole side of my family had to deal with the civil war while I was growing up.

6) You use the noise and chaos of the world to form something strange and beautiful. Does this make you an optimist artist?

Yes, I suppose I’m pretty hopeful. I often see my music as moving through waves of darkness and confusion to achieve a kind of hope and clarity – I realize that sounds a bit mystical, or ostentatious! But it is a struggle, often, to get myself out of the way and let the music come through me, from somewhere else, from some place deep inside me that’s out of my control. It’s a kind of liberation, I guess – maybe that’s what I mean by hopeful.

7) “Voices” describes a world of flux and movement. This is actually at the heart of today’s preoccupations. Would you link this project with artists, such as M.I.A., who have a strong and engaged position on the refugee crisis?

My parents were immigrants to the UK – I moved to London from Saudi Arabia when I was five. My mother is American and my father is Lebanese. He left Lebanon to find work and help support his family and brothers through university; and for a long time he lost his country, his home, to civil war. I am very proud of that story and the mix of cultures and heritage I was brought up around. Imagine being forced from your family, due to circumstances beyond your control. Imagine the courage it requires, the faith and hope! I’m grateful for the openness of the west, the opportunities it afforded my family. It’s this principle of openness that needs to be cherished and encouraged, it feels like it’s being forgotten. There are so many displaced refugees, so many children without homes – there should be no hesitation, no question, in helping and supporting our fellow human beings who are in such desperate need.

Education is key for the human race to develop right relationships to our environment, our families, and ourselves.

8) If you could change only one thing in this world, what would it be?

Wow, this is a difficult question. There are so many things that need changing, and the change needs to be fair to every living thing and the universe. Education is key for the human race to develop right relationships to our environment, our families, and ourselves. I would love to see classes in schools dedicated to ecology and consciousness, human responsibility and environmental awareness.

One other change I have been thinking about recently is the re-education of our relationship to entheogenic, or hallucinogenic, medicines. If we could learn to think about these substances from a spiritual, therapeutic viewpoint, we might discover how to overcome all sorts of preconceptions, limitations, social divisions… There’s an infinite amount we can learn about ourselves!

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Connect with the artist on Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud.

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