By Umjay M
Does light exist in the absence of darkness? It depends. Scientifically speaking, and without getting into technicalities, yes. Light can and does exist independent of darkness. But we’re not here to prove the laws of astrophysics, neither is the light at question that of atomic particles.
I’m talking about people. People, who from the beginning of time, have found themselves on either side of the Good vs. Evil phenomenon that is humanity. But can we truly be, either, or? Or is there a way to separate a person from their actions?
Whether or not you know her personally, Ghaneema Qudmani can be described as many things, but “evil,” “dark,” or simply even “bad” are not one of them. An outspoken, say-it-how-it-is, self-described human-unicorn, Ghaneema is not one to shy away from confrontation; speaking up about and doing what she embraces as her truth.
Her first solo exhibition as a Digital Artist, Digital Soul, which opened in November of last year was, but what would seem to be, the start of a series of her life’s most personal stories laid out for the world to see. Her latest EP, Bad Habits, would follow suit.
Written back in the realm of 2012-2013, Ghaneema never really intended on singing any of the songs on Bad Habits.
“The songs are very personal,” she says. The genre that she pictured them in was something she’d never delved into with her music in the past, “especially when it came to ‘rock’ like “You Got Me.” I didn’t feel it was me. So I was going to ask someone else to sing it. But then…” (she laughs). She credits her friends for why she’d end up singing them herself, “it’s yours” they told her. And that would probably be one of the best pieces of advice she’d get. Because like she puts it, “no one can sing my songs, with the same feeling that I do.”
She admits that recording the songs all those years later was difficult. “I was over those songs. I was over those feelings. So I had to force myself to remember those stories, to remember what those feelings felt like.”
On her choice of title ‘BAD HABITS,’ it was a way for her to connect with people. “People like things they can relate to. And all of us have bad habits, and I just wanted people to know the bad habits I had.” There it was, the one thread that held the duality of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in all of us together. But few have had the courage to to embrace it, not only personally, but publicly, despite the cultural and societal norms of their environment, as beautifully as she does.
When asked whether after recording the songs all those years later, they sounded the same as they did in her head, without hesitation she said, “they sounded better.” ‘BAD HABITS’ is an example of the amazing things that happen when artists collaborate – not for the sake of profiting, but for coming together to put their talents to work, for something they simply believe in. Ghaneema wrote the songs, but with artists like Omar and Sarj, each putting their own touch into the music. They might’ve sounded different than what she’d pictured, but definitely better.
And then there was the video for “You Got Me.” Quite possibly, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best music video production to ever come out of our little region. All of which was entirely based on friends volunteering (yes, no one got paid here), to make it happen. Directed by Mohammad AlSaeed along with Art Direction by Adel ElAssaad, “You Got Me” arrives as a captivating visual narrative depicting Ghaneema, as she battles “these forces.”
Personified by the likes of Azzam, Afra, Tamara Qabazard and Xeina AlMusallam, (her bad habits), only to be succumbed to embracing them in the end. “I wouldn’t be me if it weren’t for them,” speaking of those forces. “I know that they’re there. They’re not going to go away, but I can control them now. I embrace it and it made me who I am.”
Back to the video… How? Location, location, location. It was the location. From there, they drew up a mood board where they each got to put the pieces of their version of the story together. Whatever the story, the one thing that Ghaneema cared about the most was that it “fit the lyrics.”
Shooting from 9am to 4am the next day in conditions that only slightly missed the inhumane mark. “It’s overwhelming. Because none of them had to be there.” Like, Fay Al-Homoud, whose job on the set of any creative endeavor is hard to describe – from photography to providing moral support and anything else you might need during a 20-hour video shoot. “With that amount of support, we had to make it happen.” You did. You made it happen.
For more on Ghaneema Al-Qudmani, follow her latest on Instagram @Ghaneema_q. Originally published on www.kingdome.co. Follow Kingdome on Facebook and Soundcloud @KingdomeMagazine, Instagram @Kingdome.co, Twitter @KingdomeCo and on YouTube: Kingdome Magazine. Art Direction by Adel El-Assaad // A.EL.A Communications @aela.communications.Photography by Ala’a Ahmed & Fay Al-Homoud.