She calls the style of her new album “Indie Arabic”, Mediterranean melodies arranged for traditional Arabic instruments and a classical string quartet, all of this wrapped in an electronic soundscape somewhere between alternative rock and trip-hop.
Having started her collaboration with KKV in 2013, “10 A.D.” is Tania Saleh’s third release on the KKV label. This time Øyvind Kristiansen has produced the music together with Tania, and the Norwegian contribution on the album is a string quartet from Oslo, in addition to Kristiansen’s piano and programming. The other musicians are all from Egypt, where parts of the recording were made of Tania’s vocals and of such instruments as the oud, kanoon, trumpet, guitar, drums, double bass and Arabic percussion. The mixing has been done by Martin Abrahamsen at Rainbow studio.
As in other parts of the Arab world, women in Lebanon have minimal rights. Everything hinges on an individual’s political and social connections and their tribal and religious backgrounds. Due to various taboo systems, control and expectations from the many groups in society, freedom of speech and religion, and the freedom to decide over one’s love life are unthinkable for women. Tania’s intention with her new album is to provide insight into how a divorced woman, as she herself is, tries to tackle life’s challenges in the middle of such a world.
Tania finds that in Lebanon a woman is treated unfairly. She is underpaid in the labour market and discouraged to be too ambitious, too stubborn, too full of her own opinions or too demanding. There is no common civic personal law that guarantees equality between sects or genders, so she is left totally broken after a divorce. A divorced middle aged woman has little chances to find a partner, she is too old for young men, too young for the old ones.
“I live in a world where inspiration abounds, but where there is no state support for culture,” she says. “I have written many songs about the conditions we live under in Lebanon, in this divide between a nostalgic idea of a country we have heard about in songs, but which we have never owned, and our unquenchable thirst for the economic welfare and cultural openness we see in other countries. The result is that over time we are losing our sense of belonging to a country we can call our own.”
Tania Saleh’s new album has been supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.