The Azerbaijan State News Agency

CULTURE

Marie Sahba: Through my music and lyrics, I want to build cultural bridges between my nations - INTERVIEW

Marie Sahba: Through my music and lyrics, I want to build cultural bridges between my nations -  INTERVIEW

Stockholm, March 18, AZERTAC

Azerbaijan lives not only in the hearts of people, who were born and residing there, but also in the hearts of those, who are far away from their homeland due to circumstances. However, there are cases when Azerbaijan, with its historical and rich cultural heritage, has become a part of a person’s heart, who was born in a northern country and has never been in Azerbaijan.

AZERTAC introduces its readers to an exciting artist, who seamlessly blends her cultural heritage with modern electronic music. Marie Sahba grew up in Trondheim, Norway with her South-Azerbaijani father and Norwegian mother.

- How did your path to becoming a musician start off?

- Our house was always filled with music from all around the world Azerbaijani, Iranian, Turkish, Norwegian and Western music. It has had a huge impact on my music and my life, and I feel so grateful for growing up with the richness of cultures from East and West. I’ve loved music since I was a baby. My mother always tells the story of how I was leaning on the speakers headbanging to Vivaldi’s Four seasons before I could even walk- it’s such a cool image and so accurate of how I was as a child. I loved all types of music- all genres, old and new. I would listen to classical music, 80s rock and then Britney Spears all in one sitting. It didn’t matter to me as long as it was quality. I knew from an early age that I wanted to learn how to play the piano and sing so I just demanded that I’d get piano and singing lessons. Which I was so fortunate to get. I think I was around 8 years old when I started making songs on the piano, singing and jamming out different melodies and forms. Ever since it’s been my therapy and passion in life. That’s how I cope with my feelings and what I’m going through.

- How many albums have you published and what countries have you gotten to perform in?

- I’ve released two EPs and one album. My debut album, ‘A Billion Years Too Soon’ was released on February 16th this year and it was a big milestone for me. I’m so proud of it and how I’ve managed to blend my rich cultural heritage with modern electronic music in such a natural way - Azerbaijani with English lyrics and traditional instruments from Azerbaijan, Iran, Türkiye with western instruments. I’ve performed in Türkiye and Norway, and my dream is to travel to Azerbaijan and perform there. One of my goals for this year actually! I would love to perform at COP29 in November and the main reason behind this is to be able to perform my track ‘Orumiyeh’ which has been inspired by happy childhood memories and unfortunately a current global environmental disaster. It is heartbreaking for me to witness the disappearing of the lake, that’s why I’ve incorporated a heartbeat that symbolizes the sorrow and the cry and despair of Lake Urmia. With this track I would like to raise awareness from an international platform about one of the world’s biggest environmental disasters as it will affect not only the animals, but the agriculture and the whole region. The world needs to take action before it’s too late.

- Tell us about your EP Azeri Baby.

- AZERI BABY EP began as an exploration of my roots, both musically and culturally. During the process my dear father passed away and I wanted to make the EP as an homage to him, his life and our roots. It was so hard but also so meaningful. I think he would’ve been proud- I just wish he got to hear it before he was taken away from us all too soon. He truly was the sweetest man and my anchor in life.

- Do you have any songs in Azerbaijani?

- A lot of my songs have both Azerbaijani and English lyrics. I love combining them both as it makes me feel whole and I wish to represent my rich cultural heritage globally. Azerbaijani is such a beautiful language and I want the world to hear it.

- Do you find Azerbaijani music to be a source of inspiration? Do you have any favorite artists?

- Azerbaijani music is truly an endless source of inspiration to me and it’s so important to me to introduce my listeners to the richness of my cultures. My father used to listen to Azerbaijani musicians as Rashid Behbudov and I remember the song ‘Ayriliq’ (Separation) in particular. It’s such a heartbreakingly beautiful song that has made a huge impact on me. Even though I didn’t understand it as a child. One of my fondest memories is watching live music from Azerbaijan and Türkiye on the television with my father and listening to my father’s stories about the time he used to live in Urmu and Istanbul. Turkish music has also become a big inspiration for me throughout the years. The title track from my debut album ‘A Billion Years Too Soon’ is an ode to Istanbul and my father who lived there from the age of 18 to 22 whom I lost a billion years too soon. That’s why I decided to shoot the music video in Istanbul with the famous Turkish cinematographer Emre Köktaş. Köktaş and his team really blew my mind- I’m so proud of the result.

- How do you feel that you represent your Azerbaijani identity in Norway?

- I feel fortunate that even though I am half Norwegian, my ethnic Azerbaijani father from Urmu and his family made sure that our traditions and cultural heritage were preserved and respected. As a child I visited Urmu, and I have many great memories from there. Through my music and lyrics I want to build cultural bridges between my nations.

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