Mo Jamma had the chance to sit down with folk singer-songwriter Eliza Shaddad for a brief interview. What follows is an edited transcript of a recorded interview at the Sudanese Independence Day Event, Sloane Center, Park Royal.
MJ: So tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Eliza Shaddad, I'm half-Sudanese, and half-Scottish. I was born in England and grew up sort of in Europe, with time in Scotland and time in Sudan. I've got an MPhil in philosophy and Post-Graduate Studies in Jazz, and now I'm currently a musician in London. I do solo work and work with other groups.
MJ: What inspired you to take on music?
I've always done music in my spare time. I used to make up songs in primary school, and I auditioned to become the school secretary for the student council via rap, because it hit me from an early age. At school I would do a lot of musical theater. At university I got into a lot of hip hop and began writing music, went to many festivals, started getting into folk music, studied jazz and now trying to let all of that out.
MJ: So you've got an eclectic taste.
Yeah, I think so.
MJ: What musicians do you enjoy in particular?
Again, all sorts, but at the minute, I'm sort of obsessed with people whose lyrics I love. Quite folky people - Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan have been massive inspirations. And I guess I'm always listening out to new music, listening out to the folk scene. I like all the interesting things coming out and change in the pop charts from people like Alt-J. But more along the lines of the standard classics.
MJ: What are you currently working on: music-wise?
At the moment, I have two big projects: one is an EP which is coming out in April, my own work, which I did with an amazing producer down in Devon called Chris Bond. He worked on Ben Howard's most recent album, which is wonderful. I'm also collaborating with a band by the name of Clean Bandit. They're quite dancey, and number 1 at the moment. They're releasing an album soon this spring, and I've got two songs which I've worked on there.
MJ: Sounds pretty cool!
Yes, it is! Hopefully, the album will be number 1.
MJ: It's a very good time for you.
A very exciting time.
MJ: Is this your first Sudanese event and do you look forward to it?
Yeah, it is the first one, and I'm very nervous. Especially since I can't speak very fluent Arabic, so I can't sing any songs in Arabic.
MJ: So when is your next concert, after tonight?
That's a very good question. It's on the 20th February at The Waiting Rooms in Stoke Newington, where I will be supporting a very good band called Matthew & Me.
MJ: Matthew & Me. Interesting name.
Yep, they're great.
MJ: So are they folk-too?
Yeah, they're quite folky, with amazing harmonies. I do a few things on my own. They're quite a large group, I think there's 7 of them the last time I looked.
MJ: Where can people go if they wish to contact you?
I have every website imaginable: I have www.elizashaddad.com, and that will take you to Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation - if you want to go that far - Soundcloud, Bandcamp, everything.
MJ: What does the future hold?
Dun! Dun! Dun! World domination! The next step will be to release an album, to work on new material, and keep collaborating with different people. And also, to make sure the next big project is one of my own.
MJ: Well, good luck to you! I hope it works out.