Arsenic Magazine posted a very good interview with Ayah Marar recently. In this new interview, Ayah Marar speaks up on her upbringing, hip-hop’s influence on her music, leaving Jordan to pursue a music career in the UK, and much more. Check out the full interview here or check it below.
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“(I) Strongly disagree. I think it is one of the most evolving forms of music we have ever experienced. The way people have interpreted everything from ragtime to disco and merged it with more modern sounds like DnB, house, techno, dancehall, etcetera: the possibilities are endless and hugely exciting.” So says Ayah Marar, the Queen of Bass, in response to a recent quote credited to Ricardo Urgell (owner of Pacha Ibiza) stating that dance music has not evolved in twenty years.
Born in Amman, Jordan, Marar has emerged as one of the most promising musical talents in the United Kingdom and is quickly gaining notoriety around the globe. In the highly competitive universe of the music industry, Marar’s star continues to burn brighter.
“It’s funny in the pop world because everyone’s really worried about losing their spot. Everyone’s worried that if someone new comes along they might depose them, so everyone’s always looking over their shoulder.” However, if Marar were to look over her shoulder, she’d be witness to a sea of buns. As much as she is celebrated for her music, Marar is equally recognized for her distinct and contemporary style. This includes her trademark up-doo which has earned her army of admirers the moniker of “bunheads”.
This wasn’t always the case. Marar has spent the better part of the last decade perpetually honing her style in the worlds of pop and the dance underground to gain such a loyal following. From an early age she was exposed to a myriad of musical styles. The Marar household was full of everything from Elton John, Boney M and Freddie Mercury to The Beatles, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. It wasn’t until later in her school years that Marar discovered hip hop and made an immediate connection. “I latched onto that. That was me”
“I’m not too sure why (I was particularly attracted to hip hop). I suspect MTV Base had a lot to do with it. I developed an unhealthy obsession with reggae too.”
When she was seventeen Marar decided she needed something more out of life. At an age when most people have just started on the journey to finding themselves, Marar opted to take a chance and break from her native Jordan for the United Kingdom. ! Of that period of time, Marar says, “I told my dad I was leaving and there was nothing he could do about it and I just stormed off. I was cut off for a few years and just went to the UK. It just seemed natural. It felt like home to me. I knew that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do musically in Jordan. I came to the UK with the mindset that ‘I need to prove it to myself’ (in order to) hang out with the big boys.”
“I always knew music would feature heavily in my life but I guess throwing myself in at the deep end meant being able to gain experience and really live it.”
Marar certainly took to her new affidavit and discovered Drums and Bass soon after her move to England. Amidst her travels she discovered that dance music was sort of a broad religion and each region had its own unique standard. What works in London might not necessarily be well received in Liverpool. A particular progression might clear a room in Cardiff could cull a massive reaction in Leeds. Marar’s debut album The Real is a collection of thirteen tracks cataloging her inspirations across her travels; taking the very best elements of drum and bass, techno and house and pairing them with well-crafted pop hooks that lit dance floors on fire. “It’s an homage to dance music in whatever form, whether it’s garage or two step or house or drum and bass.”
It wasn’t long before Marar started to gain traction. She completely immersed herself into the underground scene and began her own music label while touring night clubs. Along the way she met Calvin Harris in a record shop she worked in, offering him a place to stay and collaborating on some of his early singles.
“I’ve supported him since the moment I met him. It took a while for people to finally see and hear what we did at the time and look at him now. I’m beyond proud.”
Marar soon found herself in studios working with talents such as Chemo, DJ Fresh, Jack Penate, Florence Welch, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Camo & Crooked, and more. Despite all this success, Marar refuses to let it all rush to her head.
“I’ll never stop paying my dues to music because I adore it and there’s nothing else in the world that I could or would do. My job is to be a songwriter, a performer, run a label, to be involved in the mechanics and all the behind the scenes of what I do, so I don’t separate it: it’s all part of one big job. I wouldn’t do something unless I believed in it.”
And when asked if she’d ever had a clear “I’ve finally made it” moment, Marar seemed defiant.
“Never. I’m in no rush to get to the top, where would I go from there? Being able to be involved in music on a daily basis in any capacity I can is what is what keeps me alive. I started building it all myself and it has been such an interesting experience. My belief is that the more personal and interactive you can be, the better! And that has served me well.”
Electronic dance music has enjoyed somewhat of an explosion (in particular regard to the United States). Especially over the last half decade. It now seems to be the status quo for pop musicians to hire well known DJ/producers to create a dance beat to use for commercial success. This is where Marar sets herself apart. As a producer/song writer/vocalist who’s roots are well grounded within the movement, she just sort of gets it. This translates into her music in a way that any “manufactured track” wouldn’t have the faintest of hopes of ever accomplishing. It’s simple. It’s pure. It’s real. Every move is purposeful. Every song is an autobiography. With her ever evolving style and personal touch, it’s clear that Ayah Marar is here to stay.