Fatima al Qadiri
Sounds Like: Chilly yet tantalizing electronic simulations of Chinese music.
For Fans Of: Laurie Anderson, Björk, Kode9
Why You Should Pay Attention: Asked to create a "cheap Chinese instrumental" knockoff of Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," Fatima al Qadiri spun the assignment into Asiatisch, an album-length meditation on the West's stereotypical view of China as an inscrutable, evil other. The Kuwaiti-born musician-artist has never been to China, but the ancient poetry, ping-pong sounds and Lady and the Tramp references she laces into her sinuous grime beats and synth choruses evoke a gleaming, if haunted, vision of the world's most populated country. (On her 2012 EP Desert Strike she exorcized childhood memories of playing videogames during the Gulf War.) Al Qadiri perches at the cusp of culture, commerce and politics. She's both a member of Gulf-based art collective GCC, who satirize the "performance" of international diplomacy, as well as an increasingly in-demand international DJ who has composed fashion-show ear candy for Kenzo and other luxury houses.
She Says: Al Qadiri probably won't be taking Asiatisch on the road any time soon. "I don't perform live except as a DJ. The idea of performing programmed electronic music strikes me as a little odd. If there's no live vocals, and if you don't have a $50,000 lighting rig and an immersive spectacle, I don't understand why anyone would want to perform electronic music live. I doesn't make sense to me."
Hear for Yourself: Nothing compares to Helen Feng Mandarin-izing Prince in "Shanzhai." By Richard Gehr