I discovered MERYEM SACI while participating to a charity event organized by Afrikawaly (non-profit organization). At the time she kindly agreed to perform and serve a cause that is very dear to her : education.
I have to say that i was fascinated by her strong yet so soulful voice , her charisma is one of a kind and what i like the most about her is her authenticity. It was no surprise for me when i saw her collaborating with one of the french legendary rap singers AKHENATON. This woman will go far and i’m more than honoured to have her featured on the blog.
Please welcome an amazing woman, Meryem Saci !!
Photo Credit : MANIKMATI PHOTOGRAPHY
Maquillage : Miss Deisy
Can you describe yourself in few lines ?
I was born and raised in Algeria, I am 29 years old. Music has always been my passion particularly singing since a very young age.
3 Strongest personality traits:
– Fighter (and a lover :p but I fight hard for mines 🙂)
What is your style of music ?
I am in love with so many styles of music that I have been struggling finding a single box … lately there has been the ‘urban’ tag for everything that’s R&B/Hip Hop… So toss that with some Soul & Blues add my AfroArabian tribal roots and a pinch of Reggae and you get my style of music.
I am influenced by so many cultures and sounds that I find myself short of labels and boxes to fit in, I just wanna make good timeless music.
What inspires you the most when writing your songs ?
Atmospheres, moments. Usually my life experience is what triggers most of my songs, I am an emotional artist so most of what I write is driven by a strong emotion. Love and the pain of love are always classics, not limited to romance. Socio-economical issues & politics that deeply affect life. I love the alchemy that music creates turning a negative into a positive picture and healing deep wounds.
To me, Music is therapy.
What are the main musical influences in your last album ?
My first solo project that will be ready soon this year will be an EP of about 6 songs. The main musical influences are mostly ‘Urban’: R&B, Hiphop, Soul. Some Reggae and a pinch the Afro-Arabian tribal sound that will be the main direction of my full lenght album coming later next year.
In which songs did you share more about yourself ?
This too shall pass, is a title of a song that is close to my heart. It digs into the feeling of despair sometimes when you feel like no matter what you do, you can never catch a break. It Seems like life was set up as an eternal test and you wonder if you will keep getting stronger or inevitably get weaker after every fall. It’s a cry for help, for internal strength and wisdom to keep pushing through the walls. I feel like this song reflects many of the poor immigrant struggle…
Foolish heart: A pure heartbreak story. Being disillusioned by someone you held high up on a pedestal that turns out to not even be worth the first step towards the throne.
To overcome the pain of a heartbreak, i had to stop feeling bad about myself and then started to understand and believe that i simply deserved better.
Float: The feeling of ecstasy and abandon you get with that special someone, it entraps you. You want to hold on to it forever. And even when you clearly know it’s a fleeting moment, you just don’t care, you want time to stop and gravity to disappear as you stay floating in bliss 🙂
How did you discover your passion for music ?
Very young, my mother tells me I was singing before I started speaking. I pick up melodies very quickly and since I was 3 I loved singing along and imitating the 90s R&B divas and gospel songs in Sister act! I was just in love with music, dancing and singing whenever I had a chance. I would literally sing myself to sleep instead of having ‘bed time’ stories or lullabies.
As a woman in the Hip Hop industry what are the strongest obstacles you have faced and how did you overcome them ?
There are many and I don’t think I have overcome them all. I am not just in the Hip Hop industry as we make music that crosses a few worlds.
But to focus on your question, in Hip Hop particularly, it’s still a very man dominated art form with little female examples to follow, which makes it hard sometimes to find your unique voice in this mix where it doesn’t just cater to women but to both sexes. We are still in a world where it is not normal for everyone that a woman has exactly the same right of expression on the mic as a man. So that spotlight is not fully dignified I find. For example, you are always going to get the ’She’s good for a girl’ comment or you are given a spot to fill up the girl quota with lower standards of judgement on your skills.
The other element is that no matter what you do, you are sexualized. The industry overall is hypersexualized. Often, it’s perpetuated by the fact that most girls in the game are ready for anything to make it. The general approach and image that is rewarded with mainstream success is that of sex machines. So the message we continuously get is that it doesn’t matter what you have to say as long as you take off your pants and talk about your booty and your P****. Besides the 90s where there were different types of female emcees with descent platforms, in this era everyone else stays underground.
In 2011, your single “One More Chance” from the Sur le Rythme soundtrack was #1 in the Top Montreal Music Channel Hit-list for 2 weeks ! How did it influence your career ?
The actual #1 spot didn’t do much for my career besides creating a nice credential to add on My CV.
The best impact that experience had on my career was to meet Mario Sevigny, the musical producer that hired me along Mat Slater ‘Preach’ to do the songs for the movie. We ended up developing a great working relationship and collaborated on many TV series and Movies since but the best part is that now we are great friend and he is co-producing my EP which is my first solo project. Im very happy to have someone so talented and real to work with and bring forward my sound.
# You recently had a collaboration with a french legendary rap singer Akhenaton, how did it happen and how was that experience ?
It was surreal.
I had met Chill in Marseille at Babel Med Festival during a residency in 2013. It was very short and sweet, a year later he heard my single Float and contacted me to do a featuring.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when i read the email. It was absolutely surreal. I grew up listening to IAM, in Algeria everything felt so unaccessible so to be having the opportunity to be crossing over and working with the very people that influenced me growing up was a beautiful experience. Chill is a great mind with a good heart, it was so refreshing to see someone as humble and down to earth as he is. A humbling moment to say the least. I hope we get to collaborate once again soon.
# Let’s talk about Nomadic Massive ! It’s a multi-cultural super group that you’re part of since 2005. Nomadic Massive has been rated the #1 Hip Hop Act in Montreal for five years in a row, and have opened concerts for Georgia Ann Muldrow, Mos Def, Deltron 3030, Wyclef Jean, Public Enemy and Busta Rhymes to name a few. What is your most memorable experience together ?
I have so many, we have had chapters of memorable experiences and trips.
We shared a strong moment in Brazil in 2008 at the juvenile detention center visit where i got to see the true power of Hip Hop and arts in general, how it kept these youths thriving.
We had multiple highlights from many trips where beautiful collaborations blossomed with other artists, for example in Germany last year we had a powerful moment on stage when we invited a group called Hinana from New Zealand to share the stage with us on a song for Warriors and they came up and embodied the spirit of that song with us on stage, it was an epic moment.
# What’s the best way to stay informed of your shows in Montreal ?
Social media is the best for now @meryemsaci on twitter, instagram, Facebook etc.
I will be getting on top of my posting game this year and have my website www.meryemsacimusic.com completely functional as the central spot for all information regarding my shows and releases.
# What is your main goal concerning your singing career and do you think you can achieve it in Montreal ? Why ?
My main goal is to be able to live from my music and tour the world. Be free to create music and develop projects on the side through arts and education.
That’s my dream and I feel I won’t be able to achieve this level of success in Montreal alone. There are many factors, namely the demographic doesn’t provide enough numbers to support an artist. Also the province itself is generally pushing french artists and even then the parameters are strict, there is a lack of thriving scene for what me and many local artists are trying to do with our music, radio doesn’t push anything that doesn’t have at least 70% french. Luckily for us, we are in the internet age so having an online appeal is more important than local city stardom. However Montreal is a great hub for creation and trying out your material, i will always rep Montreal, it’s a big part of what made me who I am today.
# What is your TOP 3 of the most inspiring female singers ?
My top favorites vary all the time but for now it’s safe to say:
# As a singer, do you feel the responsibility to convey a message ? If so, what is your message to all other women ?
Yes. Since I was young I felt like if I had the opportunity to have a microphone and freedom to perform I would use it as a tool to be the voice of the voiceless. Now it’s a very romantic idea said that way but the truth it, I feel there is a bigger purpose that can be fulfilled through music. I have been deeply impacted, inspired, shaped and raised by music. I had many teachers through lyrics and some through their actions with their fame and success. I feel my vision of what i want to accomplish before leaving this earth will forever be tied to music, music will be the vehicle towards greater projects that will contribute to solutions of our worldly problems.
In terms of my message to my beloved gender, I don’t really have an agenda to spread a message to women particularly but it’s reflected in what I learn through my own journey as a woman. In my experience I had to learn to value myself and I am still discovering what it means to love me. The more I do, the more balanced i feel moving forward. Everything is out there to make it impossible to rise and succeed, especially in certain fields but i say don’t settle for less than you deserve, don’t be mediocre, be exceptional. Most importantly keep it real with yourself, no matter what, that’s the most solid weapon to have, surround yourself with people that inspire you and motivate you. Genuine energy amongst women circles is crucial and so powerful, no competition more collaborations.
What is your favourite quote ?
‘’It is no measure of sanity to be well adjusted to a very sick society.’’ Jiddu Krishnamurthy
Merci Meryem !!