SOUND OF THE WEEK PT. 69: DUA SALEH

vor 7 months

“This song was to express that there’s a burning light of hope beyond mental health problems one may have.”

 

If only everyone could do it like Dua Saleh (THEY/ Xe). It all began years ago when Dua started performing in Poetry Slams, and now Dua has released their new song “daylight falls,” appearing emotional in the new video for the single and starring in the Netflix hit series Sex Education. Despite all their success, they never forget their roots, and in their new single, they continue to draw attention to the ongoing war in Sudan and mental health problems. Dua Saleh possesses many talents; they are truly unique and use their voice to serve as a role model for many queer people. The world would likely be a better place with more individuals like them. So, take a cue from them, and as it says in Dua’s Instagram handle: ‘Do it like Dua.

How did you get into music?
I started singing to myself when I was doing poetry shows. Art venues and clubs started booking me to sing acapella. I was using it as a form of catharsis but it seemed to really connect with people. Now I make music for fun and as a creative outlet. I’m really grateful to have found it in my life.

Could you tell us a bit about the idea behind your new song “daylight falls“?
I wanted to talk about mental health. I was dealing with a lot of dysphoria, anxiety, and depression when I first started sharing my art. Having friends, a therapist, and music really helped me when I was at my lowest. Reaching out to people I was close to or who could listen helped to calm myself when I thought I had no where to go. I hope people seek out these ways of self soothing when they feel the same way. This song was to express that there’s a burning light of hope beyond mental health problems one may have. I also wanted to release it to raise awareness about the ongoing war happening in Sudan related to the civil unrest that broke out in 2023. Darfur Women’s Action Group is a NGO that I’m partnering with to help gain attention to these issues and that have solutions for people seeking help in the areas affected.

A comment on YouTube under the new video for “daylight falls” caught my attention: “Something about this is making me uneasy because the sound… it’s not traditionally constructed? Yet I hear every emotion, I love it.” – What emotions do you aim to evoke in your listeners?
Honestly, the structure is not traditional because I prefer a more free-form approach. The music that I make is non traditional because I started with poetry and moved on into this industry. As much as I’ve done, I’m still new so rules and regulations don’t need to always apply when songwriting. I’m grateful to have that but excited to learn more about music outside of my own world.

Are there influences from your homeland sudan that are reflected in your music?
In the music video for “daylight falls” I’m wearing a Commes Des Garçon white smock that looks almost identical to Jalabiyas traditionally worn by men and people who wear men’s attire in Sudan. Having this reflected in the styling of the video is an homage to Sudan. A similar thing can be said about my song for “umbrellar” a song on my ROSETTA EP. Musically, I’ve written in Sudanese dialectical Arabic in the song “pearls” on my CROSSOVER EP. I love leaving these easter eggs and full fledged homages in my music and visuals because it’s true to me. I’m very Sudani and proud.

In july Travis Scott published his new Album Utopia, you wrote the lyrics and melody for the song “MY EYES“. How did the collaboration come about, and what was it like working with such a big name?
It was amazing, my friend Justin Vernon of Bon Iver made the connection. Travis expressed that it was definitely going on the project about a year prior to the release. I was happy that it happened because I love Travis Scott’s music and it was a dream to work with Bon Iver.

Did you have role models from the LGBTQ+ community when you were younger?
Yes, one of my friends Lavern Cox was a huge inspiration to me and inspired me to pursue my passion when I was younger and wanted to be a poet. Being connected to her now as she continues to fight for the right of Black trans women and people in the LGBTQIA community really touches me. It fires me up to be more involved and to talk about anti-trans legislation taking place in the US now. 83 anti-trans bills have passed in the US in 2023 which is a record. Absolutely heartbreaking. The health care ban that’s swept Conservative courts (which has just recently happened), highlighted by activists is especially terrifying as they’re attacking our bodily autonomy and life saving gender affirming health care for trans folks and by professionals.

Is there an artist you would really like to collaborate with?
Latto would be an amazing artist to collab with. I love MCs that can spit and live party music so she would be perfect. Obviously a dream would be Beyoncé. I think Flo Milli would be fun to work with, as well as Tems. But that’s just my dream list. If Travis Scott were to ever want to collab or feature me that would be a dream too.

To wrap up:  What’s next on your agenda?
I’m excited to go on my second ever tour next year. I’ve done everything with my team in the past unsigned. Ghostly is an incredible label for me to be signed to now because they’re also Indie and understand my vision. I can’t wait to show the world what I’ve worked on! For now stream “daylight falls” and buy my CROSSOVER (Deluxe) vinyl available on my website and VinylMePlease!

 

Interview by KLAAS HAMMER

Picture courtesy of GRANT SPANIER

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