INTERVIEW: KAYAN BRINGS THE NOISE DOWN
Noor Faisal (aka KAYAN) has grown to become one of the most prominent female electronic artists from Bahrain, and the region, in recent months, but her musical and creative journey has been in the making for years.
SWITCHED: Hello Noor. Let’s get right into it… and in the most obvious way… why the name ‘Kayan’? I know I know, you must get that all the time!
KAYAN: Well… Kayan is an Arabic word for existence I love that word and its hard to explain its attributes in English it means something like (Your being, your individuality, your existence). I also chose it cause its an Arabic word that is easy to pronounce in Arabic and in English. When I create a music or an art project I like to name it something that will contribute to feeling it will convey. I don’t overthink it, the names come naturally as they serve the project concept. Everyone started calling me Kayan and I don’t mind.
SW: You’ve had quite a music evolution over the years. Tell us a bit about that and what led you on that journey?
KA: I guess I have always been very sensitive to sound and music, I was a deep listener always just didn’t know that this meant becoming a musician one day. DJing and music production was ignited since I started working for Bahrain radio station after being certified from BBC World on making radio features, I guess radio features became way more musical and transformed into dj sets and original music composition both live and prerecorded.
As for the violin I think it was meant to be somehow, I took western classical for a short while then got a scholarship in Eastern classical art and music and specialized in Indian Classical Music and art for four years after that I went back to studying western music and currently exploring Arabic music too so I can create a bridge between them all and showcase their beauty.
SW: You’re multi-talented, often combining elements of electronic music and instrumentation into your live performances. What was that process like?
KA: It all started in my imagination, technically manifesting it was not easy, it way bigger and clearer and more magical in my head, I guess my quest is to match that in reality.
I think handling instruments while DJing is very stimulating for the brain activating multiple parts simultaneously. I believe in creating stories through my sets live or prerecorded, leaving the listener with something to feel and hopefully to remember.
SW: What got you into music in the first place?
KA: My natural gift was visual art (my eyes, my hands) music was never a natural talent, it was acquired through studying. However, I was always a deep listener and could imagine and compose melodies in my head and that was always naturally there. I waned to manifest what I imagined and felt through sound and that was only possible after years of studying and exploring sound and music in its deepest forms and to its essence.
I am not there yet, but somehow feel I’m getting there…
SW: What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of trying to build your career in music?
KA: Starting to learn an instrument as hard as the violin at a late age, but I always believed in late is better than never. Also music requires a lot of time and dedication which in a way it kind of isolates you from social life or make you seem a bit selfish, I always wanted to be there for the people I love, serve the community and not be selfish cause I was perusing music on a very serious and deep level, sometime I didn’t make enough time for music because I was trying to prove that point and that ended up in slowing my progress a bit.
Accepting blunt criticism without letting it demotivate me was a challenge too.
SW: There are few women in the region who’ve managed to do what you do. In your opinion what’s stopping more women getting to the music scene/industry?
KA: What would stop them is the decision of wanting to live up to society’s expectation of them or their own expectation of themselves. To be successful in such an industry there will be compromises and even sacrifices just like everything in life and you have to be willing to take them and fight for what you believe in.
SW: You have a deep fascination with using sound and music as meditative therapy. What is that exactly and why do you feel it’s important?
KA: My interest in sound and music led me to acquiring a degree in sound and music therapy, for me I took that degree because I loved sound and music and wanted to get know it more and understand it on a deep level. After finishong the degree I had requests for workshops and session, there was natural interest in the filed which I didn’t expect.
I believe that playing an instrument or djing or producing is something I do for myself it fulfils me, but using sound as a therapeutic tool can benefit others and that is scientifically and medically proved. So I started branching out to individuals that need it the most and can benefit from it.
"Every human can benefit from the technology of sound so much but through my journey I felt it was most impactful in the field of mental disabilities. So I created a project called Project Resonance, the project contributes to raising awareness about the benefit of sound and music and support groups and individuals in the community that can benefit from it."
SW: You’ve been performing quite frequently over the past year or so - including appearances in MDLbeast in Saudi and Soundscapes in Bahrain - what’s your philosophy to taking on gigs or deciding which events to be part of?
KA: I accept gigs that enable me to express the type of music I specialize in; I don’t play commercial music therefore I don’t accept gigs that require that which reduces the number of potential bookings but that’s fine with me as long as I’m true to what represents me in terms of sound. I do however create customized music and sound for luxury fashion shows, motor shows and venues.
SW: What do you enjoy more and why - the process of making and recording music, or performing it live in front of an audience?
KA: Both, I usually like to improvise, there is something magical about creating a melody live for a certain time and space that will last only within that time and space so I enjoy doing that a lot and mostly get to do that in live performances.
SW: With quarantine and the pandemic still ongoing, what plans/projects are you currently working on?
KA: I think the current pandemic changed something in one way or another in every human being, I don’t think anything will go back to what it was, people will look at life differently after this experience in their own way.
I’m currently working on polishing my sound, manifesting what’s in my imagination and replicating in reality through sound and mixed media, I’m also working on an album with a few musicians that I admire, all this I was doing pre pandemic and during and will continue post pandemic, I guess what will change is live performances will go back to being shared with people instead of my phone screen which is great cause I enjoy the collective energy more.