interview | fatima

Vocalist Fatima is fast on the road to stardom. The R&B/soul songstress grew up in Stockholm and started off her career in the choir — a prime to her warm and melodic vocals. Fatima’s latest album, And Yet It’s All Loveis a standout piece in her musical catalogue. The album artwork places one of her powerfully intimate nude paintings at its centre, while sonically Fatima’s unique rhythm, soulful style and enchanting voice make her album an emotional, yet entertaining, trip through the cycle of a romantic relationship. On tracks like Somebody Else, Caught In A Lie and Waltz listeners are transported from the first meet to the blinding honeymoon period, and right through to the break-up and eventual fallout. The singer, who had worked jobs as a backing vocalist and a waitress before moving to East London in 2006, is building a promising reputation through her dynamic and diverse sound. Schön! caught up with Fatima to talk about her recent album, her thoughts on privacy in the Internet age and her career journey so far.

Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about your background. 

I grew up with my mum, little brother and little sister in an apartment in the area of Södra Station, Stockholm. My mum always gave us a lot of love, introduced us to classic furniture design, architecture, and music from all around the world. She loved travelling and art and I guess that’s all rubbed off on me. I used to make mixtapes with the living room stereo, sing in choirs, dance, draw and act. I was a busy child! I used to write a lot: stories and songs. In my late teens, I started recording with friends and worked as a backing vocalist amongst a trillion other jobs. Everything from auditorium host, to taking care of elders, to waitressing at restaurants and organising letters at post offices. I moved to London in October 2006 and [I’ve] been here ever since. It’s been an organic progress musically. I’m blessed to have met so many inspirational characters over the years. Shout out to Eglo Records!

What got you into the music industry?

It was either [my childhood] or falling into the golf hole and getting stuck in a looney world. To be honest, I’m currently stuck in there. It’s amazing how the wifi connection works so smoothly 100,000 feet below the ground!

We think your music is exquisite, which in this age is so hard to find. What’s your secret? 

Look to the skies. I am merely a vessel. And an Internet addict. There’s loads of music out there to be heard. You’ve just got to be attentive and stay searching.

Can you explain your creative process? 

4.99% of the time I take from personal experience when writing lyrics. Sometimes sentences seemingly falling from the sky. Those are the blessed days. Sometimes I have to work super hard on finalizing things and spend days and days polishing the lyrics, harmonies and melodies. It usually starts with a piece of music and then I add to it. I like to work with others because I’m a usually a total scatterbrain. I find it easier to focus when I’m in it together with someone. Still, I love working alone when I make it happen.

And your new album, And Yet It’s All Love, I heard you wrote it for three years?

Yes. On and off [for] three years-ish.

Do you think the album fits into a particular musical genre, or does it borrow from multiple genres?

The album is a mix of all kinds of sounds. [It] goes from smooth R&B shit to bouncy bits. Soul and some type of melancholic, dramatic musical sounding ballad in the end. I’m into various sounds and genres and I’m very indecisive. I think you can hear that.

What is most original about this album?

You tell me.

What effect did the album leave on you? 

The producers did bring a lot of heat. All unique flavours. 

What was it is like, the whole period of handling both career and relationship?

It was a challenge that’s for sure. I lost myself and found myself over and over. It was painful but I also learned a lot about love and the human brain!

Was there any period in your career where you said “ok, I can’t go on any longer. Should I try something else”?

Happens whenever I feel depressed and life is smacking me in the face open-handed. Some days are just too rude to your existence.

What do you find the least favourite about your line of work? 

[My] favourite is the inspiration you get from creating and being surrounded by amazing pieces of art. When music is at its finest it removes unnecessary stress and pain and gives you energy and happiness. The least [favourite] part of working as a musician is the stalker-like obsession with people’s personal lives online. Sometimes I feel like a product and wish I had some anonymous pseudonym with a hidden face. Even though I spend a lot of time on my phone and laptop I try and remind myself to look at the sky once in a while.

Let’s take a look outside your music. What’s an average day like for you?

I wake up, brush my teeth, might eat breakfast, but I’m usually not hungry until lunchtime. Then I shower and make myself fresh for the day. Can’t be out in these streets stinking! My days are pretty flexible and I tend to travel quite a bit around London to various studios. Aside from that, I spend a lot of time at home by my lonely, obsessively looking for music and watching films. I drink a lot of tea and I like to eat delicious vegan food. Why does this sound like a bio on a dating app?

What does Fatima do for fun?

Watching my life slowly melt away like a gigantic clown faced candle to the taste of Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter & cookie flavour ice cream. If I could drive I’d get a sports car or a neon green/black motorbike and speed down a lonely highway in the sunshine. 

How do you interact with your fans?

Love gets love. Since my brain is connected to the Internet most of the day I’m only two screens away from whomever or whatever chooses to contact me.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Stay true to who you are and go your own way. Don’t over analyse and hold on to shit for too long. Get the ball rolling but don’t stress things either. Easier said than done but you gotta do it!

What’s the ultimate for you, where do you see your music and career in the next five years?

I want to keep progressing and upgrade in life, be fearless. I see myself producing my own stuff and writing for others. I hope my music will stay being my ticket to see the world, over and below the waves. I hope I can bring some light into someone’s day and, last but not least, I’d like to become rich so I can help others whilst draped in the finest of textiles and jewels…

Lastly, what’s next for you?

I’m gonna keep perfecting this live show and shout about this album And Yet It’s All Love for a little while. I’m in the studio too. Trying to prevent you waiting another four years till the next one.

Fatima’s Latest Album ‘And Yet Its All Love‘ is out now.

photography. Agatha Powa
talent. Fatima
words. Bade Fuwa


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