Hi Dashni, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you! I’ve been well – thanks for having me.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Love Wins”?
‘Love Wins’ is really a personal message to the common people of the world. Over the last few years, I have spent a lot of time working with refugees in Kurdistan (northern Iraq), and this has really changed my life and my ambitions.
The message is simply that these refugees, particularly refugee children, are in desperate need of the world’s help. And instead of extending a helping hand, so much of the world has decided, through certain political changes or otherwise, to ignore and distance themselves from the problem.
‘Love Wins’ is a song that promotes love, and the notion that love can overcome hate. And although the message is poignant, the song itself is colourful and uplifting. We hope to raise further awareness to the catastrophe, and we hope we make them dance whilst doing it.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Obviously the big driver behind this song was my direct exposure to the refugee crisis. So rather than a particular event, it has been a series of heartbreaks that has really led me here today. However, seeing what I have seen has given me more than just inspiration – I think inspiration is flimsy and it comes and goes – my experiences have given me a purpose in life. And ‘Love Wins’ is just one of many steps that I’m going to take, in order to fulfill that purpose.
Saying that though, I do remember recording ‘Love Wins’ in extraordinary surroundings in Trondheim, Norway, where around midnight, the sun was still out and shining into the studio. I remember looking out of that window at the picturesque Norwegian landscape, and feeling positive and inspired. Thereafter, I think we wrote and recorded ‘Love Wins’ in a few short hours.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
We have a video. I think it’s very inspiring and powerful. It’s a lyric video that includes some footage that we have managed to collect over the years at the refugee camps.
Of course a video is vital in getting the message across. The visual form of communication seems to be the most effective these days, especially across social media, and we need to do what we can to communicate our message.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote and recorded most of my songs in Los Angeles with a brilliant Norwegian team, Dsign Music. I took a few months off and lived alone in LA, which was an experience in itself.
I spent a lot of time with the team, getting to know one another. One of my co-writers and I, Anne Judith Stokke Wik, became very close. She really felt my story and we shed a lot of tears together. Not only related to my experiences with refugees, but the sexual discrimination, harassment and exploitation I’d suffered the music industry back in my homeland – but we’ll leave that story for another day.
I think it’s important to harmonise at a personal level first, before you do so musically. And I think we did, and I was extremely happy with what we created.
In what way has your upbringing influenced your music?
I had a happy childhood growing up in my hometown of Sulaimaniyah in Kurdistan. Then, aged eleven, we moved to Holland and the confusion started!
We moved to a multicultural neighbourhood and for the first time in my life I made friends that were different from me. I remember on my street there were families from Morocco, Turkey, Kenya, Somalia, Russia, Albania Poland and of course Holland. So we exchanged cultures and traditions that not only included food and customs, but also music.
Kurdish music is a musical melting pot in itself, and I always felt that my music had similarities to anything else my friends played. Maybe it’s because as Kurds we’ve never had a national identity, so somehow I’ve adopted everyone else’s. Whatever the reason, I felt a part of and understood many different cultures, and for sure that’s reflected in my music.
Do you try for your music to have any political connotations or you rather stay away from that?
Generally, I despise ‘politics’ or at least what it represents in the world we live in. So I’d prefer not to describe it as that. Rather, my music highlights issues that are close to my heart, be it women’s rights, access to education for children or environmental protection. And when I sing, I’m speaking to the people, not the politicians. Power remains with the people, and if there’s one thing that politics and I agree on, it’s that.
Saying that though, I’m still Kurdish, and I recognise that the story of my people’s modern history is told in terms of political leaders and movements. So I’m very aware of the politics around me, and the complex political environment back home in Kurdistan. It’s not something I can deny or ignore, and nor is it something I would ever accept. But also it’s not something that I want to participate in.
I understand the money for the song goes to charity – can you tell us more about it and how can people support this campaign besides purchasing the track?
I am donating my share of the proceeds from the sales of ‘Love Wins’ to my charity Green Kids (www.greenkids.org.uk), which is actively working to improve the living conditions of child refugees in Iraq.
Green Kids was established in 2012, to provide direct assistance on the ground to children in war and poverty. We have focused our projects on underprivileged schools and refugee camps. The major theme throughout all of our projects is access to education, and our ultimate mission is to make sure these children have a future.
Recently we’ve established mini-libraries at the Baharka and Kawrgosk refugee camps in Kurdistan, and have furnished them with hundreds of books and toys for the kids.
Apart from buying the track, people can also support by donate via our website. And for those interested, we also encourage volunteering, either here in the UK, or in Kurdistan (I’m already planning to take some volunteers with me on my next trip back). Please get in touch via the website!
Speaking of campaigns, talk to us more about UK Green Kids project
How did you get involved and what is this all about?
I’m hoping to gather significant aid from schools in the UK, to be delivered to the refugee camps I work with in Kurdistan. Especially with the current offensive on Mosul, the situation has taken a turn for the worst, so I need to make sure this happens fast and effectively.
The idea is to connect children in the UK, with refugee children, so that they better understand the situation. We hope that the children can donate books, clothes and toys that would otherwise be thrown away.
We’ve already done this in Holland, and it worked very well. When we delivered the aid, the children were over the moon with the toys in particular, so I want to make sure I get as many toys as possible this time.
It is amazing how compassionate children can be, and I think we can learn a lot from them. Also it’s a form of recycling, and the environment is also of paramount importance in everything Green Kids does.
Now, does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?
Yes, there indeed is an album. I like to call it world music. I’ve had a lot of fun mixing sounds from different cultures. I’d describe the album as cultured pop beats with tribal and ethnic influences. But then there’s also a hip hop and electronic element to some of the tracks, so its difficult to pigeon hole. I’m currently working with a local producer from London, Daniel Konteh, to finalise a couple of the songs.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
We can give the title away: ‘A little light in the dark’’.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m planning to give a series of mini-concerts across all the refugee camps in Kurdistan in early spring, which also coincides with the Kurdish New Year. I want to celebrate new beginnings with them, especially with the youth and children, and to show them that there is hope; just an opportunity to dance and sing, and have some fun, really.
What else is happening next in Dashni Morad’s world?
2017 promises to be a busy year. I think the highlight will be a documentary I’m working on, that is currently in pre-production. I can’t give too much away, but what I can say is that it will be a timeless women’s rights tale, set across space and time.
I’m also working on a cartoon series, off the back of my last release ‘Be Free’. The cartoon is called ‘Plu & Her Morning Orbit’ and tells the story of a brave, for once ethnic girl, whom escapes the restraints of her home to pursue her grand destiny.