Alibi EP and Island Punk
Ms. Mohammed’s EP ‘Alibi’ is a stunning debut, with a compelling title track that hooks you in with its commanding drum sound - with she says was born out of ‘tinkering on my mini souvenir dhol drum I acquired on my trip to India’.
Celebrating the feminine, protesting at repeated conflict, and delivered with velvet vocals, the EP is thought-provoking as well as making you move.
Her high-impact new video for ‘Pandora’ features appearances from leading dancers and musicians.
What have been your key themes when writing Alibi
I allow the song to set the intentions as much as possible and this one wanted to address imperialism, oppression and political retribution.
You’ve recently changed your artist name - why
Yes I used to perform under my first two names “Dana Jade” but this moment in time calls for embracing our otherness in hopes of stemming the tide of rising fear and prejudice. Telling people my real last name (Mohammed) made me nervous. I feared their reaction, I feared being shunned. That anxiety made me realise the importance of utilising my real last name professionally.
What’s your process when you are writing songs
I tend to start with drums, playing around with the kit and various percussion. Logic X’s virtual drummer has been instrumental in my songwriting process and drum programming. Love it!
Do you record demos yourself or head straight into the studio
I’m a control freak with strong ideas about how everything should sound so yes I demo first and take that to studio so my engineer Mike Hillier knows what I have in mind for the final product. He has been wonderful in enabling me to produce myself and achieve exactly what I want out of the sound which is rare and priceless in this business and especially within studio environments where women tend to get sidelined. I highly recommend him.
Alibi has a unique and powerful sound, did it take you a long time to come up with this new kind of fusion
It was a natural progression, I think. I started experimenting with sounds from my culture and background as Dana Jade but I’ve since jumped in the deep end.
It’s billed as island-punk and rock & dhol - tell us more about the overall sound you were aiming for
I had an epiphany at Carnival one year, I said to myself “Well, you’re not PJ Harvey, we’ve already got one of her. So, what are you bringing to the banquet?” Fusing my guitar sound with the island riddims that sound tracked my upbringing became my new MO.
We’ve seen videos of you playing different instruments on the EP - tell us more
Ahh yes the control freak has played all the guitars, bass and additional percussion.
What were the more unusual instruments and sounds we can hear on the EP and did you bring in guest musicians
I got a professional Dhol drummer in for Alibi of course and drummer Daisy Palmer was on kit duty making my beats, loops and drum programming 100 times better with her flair and expertise.
There are several percussion instruments that we use in Trinidad that are just everyday objects like bottle & spoon, graters, whistles and old pieces of iron known simply as “de iron”. Mine is literally an old hub cap, the modern ones are made solely for their percussive purpose. They were all recorded on Written In Time where I attempted to recreate the sound of j’ouvert morning, the official start of Trinidad Carnival.
How was the EP recorded and produced
I took the demos straight to the drum session which was recorded at Park Studios Wembley. We got to utilise their skate park on the snare overdubs on Pandora. Amazing effect! Then we recorded guitars at Mike’s studio in South London, where we also mixed all of the tracks. Vocals, bass and dhol were recorded at Hackney Road studios.
What are your plans for the rest of this year
I want to shoot a video for 2nd single Pandora, the theme being the divine feminine.
You also started Clit Rock - what’s the aim of the nights for those who don’t know
Clit Rock events were created to celebrate women who rock (across all genres) and to raise awareness and funds for the campaign to End FGM (female genital mutilation)
Your talent-spotting skills are immense, how would you describe the strength of female musicians around right now
Haha oh I don’t know about that, Kitmonsters also puts me on to a lot of fabulous artists.
I think it’s a great time for female/femme musicians, we are pushing through and making our voices heard. People like Cassie Fox and the Loud Women team, Nasty Women collective, nights like Clit Rock, WRTW and Debbie are all fabulous and do more than just put on gigs, there is also a burgeoning sense of community, which is priceless!
The mainstream is still pushing back but it’s only a matter of time until we break through. Keep pushing!