Yasmine Hamdan

Author, composer, singer
(Updated on 02/12/2014)
  1. Author, composer, and singer, Yasmine Hamdan was born in Beirut.

Having spent part of her life in Gulf countries and Greece, she returns to Beirut in 1990 to finish high school and start psychology studies, earning a BA in 1998. In the same year, she forms the group Soapkills along with Zeid Hamdan. Between 1998 and 2005, Soapkills released 4 albums including a Live recording.

Yasmine lands in Paris in 2002. She enrolls for a Master degree in cinema studies at the Sorbonne and collaborates in movie projects with directors Elia Suleiman, Ghassan Salhab, Khalil Jreij and Joanna Hadjitouma, and Danièle Arbid.

Her encounter in 2005 with Mirwais Ahmadzaï, the electronic music producer who composed Madonna’s album “Music”, results in the birth of Y.A.S. In 2009 the “Arabology” album is released by Universal Music.

About her…

“Three winters ago, Yasmine Hamdan was known as Y.A.S., a pairing, or an encounter of her own culture (10 years dominating the Arab underground scene from Beirut, becoming it’s icon as the front woman and singer of her band Soapkills) and Mirwais’s electropop. Y.A.S. was more than a project, it was a symbol (musical, geopolitical, religious, the perspectives are very wide): that of a potential bridge between two worlds that radios, media, dance floors, ears, and mentalities on both ends never imagined coming together. Nevermind the skeptics, the orient-occident encounter did in fact take place. It allowed Yasmine to realize her strength, and to dig deeper into her own identity search. Today, it is only under her name that she embraces a new project, and as it turns out, it looks like a small revolution on its own. No more group or producer to hide behind, Yasmine is naked as she can be, precise and crisp clear, as if faced with in a mirror. Finally ready for the idea of being in the forefront, having understood that as to that matter, she will not find better a warrior than herself.

Because the war never ends, this time, the battle is waged through the echoing of Arabic music, that of the great productions of the 50s and 60s recorded in Beirut or Cairo, or even that of the super sexy Iraqi Choubi, and the very soulful Kuwaiti Samri. Multiplying the echoes of Arabic music, within the sensuality that belongs to our times: totally modern. To constantly pursue inhabiting this music, and to make it evolve. In history.Then what? A collection of oriental classics revisited with today’s tastes? All the contrary.I actually believe that Yasmine has an obsession, and it’s that Middle Eastern divas who have always inspired her, be it Asmahan, Leila Murad, Shadia, or Munira Al Mahdiyya, never stopped impersonating acute modernity, femininity, and sensuality. For Yasmine, the crushed, dirty, and insolent beats of Iraqi Choubi have always been electropop, -and if Iraqis do not acknowledge this, it doesn’t change much to the fact.

It so happens that in nowadays France, there’s a young man who’s thoughts encounter Yasmine’s. Discreet by nature, known mostly as a producer (Indurain, Volga Select, Ollano, Suburbia, Two For The Road), that young man believes that nothing is more smothering than cases, shoe boxes into which one is pushed : your style, my style, the neighbor’s style, all described as very different, thus indifferent to one another. As for Marc Collin, he always said that Robert Smith is no enemy of Antonio Carlos Jobim, that Ian Curtis has things to say to François Truffaut. This conception of bridges seemed potty in 2003. But the universal success of his Nouvelle Vague project shook and took down these boundaries. Behind Nouvelle Vague, he has proved once more his passion for songstresses: there’s no reason for seduction, in music, to be dressed in cheap, ill-taste arrangements. Marc Collin is the producer of Yasmine Hamdan’s first solo album due in April 2012.

In September 2011 they met in Marc’s studio (whose name evokes New Order « The Perfect Kiss »). Yasmine brought along some songs she’d written, and many favored classics from her huge collection of rare veteran Arab albums. Far from the idea of making remixes, working on these songs was similar to using samplers: from this piece, she picked a melody, a chorus, found a way of vibrating arabic dialects, repeating lines and phrases recreating all the arrangements until yielding something completely original. It won’t be a remake, nor a tribute, nor a modernization, but rather a remote memory of a melody.

The album Yasmine Hamdan was created in two phases. Yasmine worked with the guitarist Kevin Seddiki in a rather folk mood, dreaming of a certain «intimisme», deeply impregnated with 70s romanticism (Beirut, Bala Tantanat, Shouei). Then Marc Collin dressed these melodies with an electronic vibe, as his synthesizers gave accents to each song.The rest of the album is the result of intensive studio collaboration between Yasmine and Marc. Starting with Marc’s vintage synthesizers collection (notably the amazing Roland Jupiter 8 and the Chroma Polaris), they chose to create an acoustic universe to accompany Yasmine’s vocal swings, and settle Arabic in a code-free environment. Arab melodies, sometimes complex or tonal, rest here on very simple chords with pop tonalities. The voice becomes raw material. Rhythmic loops are created from organic sounds that only recall a faraway hint to «ethnic» percussions. In Nag, Ya Nediya, Samar, In Kan Fouadi, we reminisce of the times of the 4AD label (Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil).”