The Panti Personals S3 E3 Farah Elle
Panti is Aunty Panti in this episode with the uber talented Irish Libyan singer and artist Farah Elle. They met five years ago when Farah was just emerging and now with her debut album coming out later this year Farah is back and sharing her music, her story and what keeps her joyful. Farah in Arabic means joy or happiness, and while Farah has experienced a lot of turmoil in her 27 years she shines with light and love.
She came to Ireland with her parents and siblings when she was just an infant. When Farah was studying for her Leaving Certificate her mother, Fatima Hamroush, made international news when she went back, post the revolution, to Libya to become Minster for Health.
Farah’s breakthrough song ‘Silk’, written when she was a music student at BIM, blended her two cultures and soundscapes and her first releases from the new album ‘Play it By Ear’ and ‘Desert’ continue that journey.
Music in this episode includes:
Farah Elle – Silk
Farah Elle – Play It By Ear live peformance
Farah Elle – Desert live performance
CunninLynguists ft Farah Elle – Oh Honey
Farah Elle -Teardrop ( cover of Massive Attack song)
You can find out more about Farah Elle on her own gorgeous website www.farahelle.com
Hello and welcome back to The Panti Personals. And I am delighted to be back in the comforting and luxurious surroundings of Camden Recording Studios in Dublin 8. And today my guest is an old friend who is going to make good use of the grand piano here. It’s Farah Elle, the gorgeous, thoughtful, chilled and very fun singer-musician, songwriter who was first in with us for a chat on the Pantisocracy radio show about five years ago and who has a remarkable debut album coming out later this year.
Farah was born in Libya and came here to Ireland when she was just an infant. And her breakthrough song, Silk, the one she performed for us five years ago, is a mesmerizing mix of both her cultures, but more about that later. She says of her work, music is one of the most moving aspects of the human experience and helps me see the beauty in the bigger picture.
Farah El Neihum, I just checked that with her, as the passport says, you’re very welcome and lovely to have you back.
Thank you. It’s lovely to be back.
I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen you in between, I don’t think. But you’re looking glowing, new hair.
I know. I’m going blonde. I’m drinking my water.
It’s funny, because, you know, back then you were only 22 I think at that time. So now you’re?
27. But, you know, for a 22 year old, you were very self-possessed. A very comfortable in your own skin, young woman. And especially because on that same show there was people like Cáit Ó Riordan and serious music people and all. And you breezed in as a 22 year old, totally unfazed. Are you always that way?
I think I maybe appear that way sometimes, but inside my mind is chaos.
I think everybody thinks that, don’t they?
And at that time you did Silk for us, which is still such a beauty.
And in between times, I’ve seen you got a lot of attention for your Massive Attack cover. You did a cover of Teardrop.
Teardrop by Farah Elle plays.
Yeah. So that was for a fundraiser. So basically all the proceeds go to charity around suicide prevention.
That was really fun. That was actually, to be honest with you, when you’re in college and you’re recording music and stuff, other colleges get assigned these projects and they start looking for artists to work with. So it was really just a very natural occurrence where somebody got in touch with me and asked me to record this. And I was like, yeah, sure. And it was a really good experience, actually. It was a really good learning experience. Yeah.
Teardrop by Farah Elle plays.
It’s lovely, the track.
Thanks. Thank you.
I want to talk to you about names. Two names in particular. First of all, your own, because as you may know, I’m a massive Farrah Fawcett fan. So Farah really works for me. I didn’t know that Farah in Arabic means joy or happiness or something.
Yes. Precisely. Yeah, Farah.
You know what’s that expression? Nominative determinism. So if you get named something that has an association, you’re more likely to end up doing that thing. So if your name is Miller, you might end up making flour. I don’t know. You know what I mean?
Yeah, I totally know what you mean.
So do you think there was nominative determinism involved there? Because you are a very sort of sanguine, happy, cheery person.
Hey, that’s good to hear. Yeah, I completely believe in that. I actually think names are such affirmations, like. Yeah, I totally think that names have a big impact on us. Totally. And the importance of being proud of your name, no matter what it is as well. It’s so connected to our roots and where we come from and our stories. And I know we’re not our stories, but they are a part of us. So I think it’s so interesting asking someone if there’s a story attached to their name or how they got their name. Yeah, it’s definitely a part of who I am 100%. When I was growing up, I’d say when I was about four, I was always very, I’d always been quite committed to fun I would say.
That should be on your dating profile. Commited to fun.
I would totally prioritize things like ease and feeling wholesome and happy. It’s not like that came from a shallow place either. It was because I was so used to all the seriousness and everything that I just wanted to not be the anxious presence in a room. There’s a movie called Joy about a girl called Joy, and I think there’s a line in it that I loved, and her mum said to her, you were born to not be the anxious presence in the room. And I think that’s such a lovely thing.
It is a lot of pressure, though, isn’t it?
It’s a fucking load of pressure sometimes, that I put on myself. Nobody’s asking me to.
Well if it really works, if I had a child then I would call it Lottery Winner.
Go for it.
The other name I want to talk to you about is Fatima.
Because it’s your mother’s name. It’s the name of the album coming up. But it’s also one of those interesting names, isn’t it? Because it has resonance in almost every culture, or certainly a huge number of different cultures. Now, to me, when I hear Fatima now, you’re probably too young to get this, but maybe, to me, and don’t tell your mother this.
It actually represents a kind of crushing disappointment.
I’ll tell you why. Because when I was growing up, the third secret of Fatima was this massive deal. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Right. So Fatima is a place in Portugal, and it’s a Marian shrine, kind of like Knock or whatever. And when we were kids, it was this massive deal because the Virgin Mary or whatever, in Fatima had told the kids who saw her three secrets, and we already knew what two of the secrets were. But a third secret they weren’t telling us. We did a school play about Fatima, and we’d all become obsessed about the third secret of Fatima. And you might remember that a man became so obsessed with it that he hijacked an Aer Lingus plane and refused to let people out or whatever, he was threatening to kill them all unless he was told what the third secret of Fatima was.
Yeah, that’s how big a deal it was. And we were all convinced and sure that it had something to do with nuclear war. It was a secret about the Third World War. That seemed to be the sort of the going thing. So that’s my association with Fatima. But of course, here in Dublin there’s Fatima Mansions and all of that. But it’s also a very common name in the Arab world.
Yeah, it’s a very common name. I also think that a lot of women who have the name Fatima have a very distinct strength about them. My mum is obviously the closest Fatima to me, but I actually chose it for that reason that you said, that it’s so culturally applicable so many places all over the world.
But surely you chose it also because it’s your mother’s name.
That too. But it was actually a really weird coincidence as to how I chose it. I didn’t actually choose it because of her completely. I was doing a house share during the pandemic in a man’s house, and he was very Holy, right? And he had this tile that he got from Fatima in Portugal, right? And it was on the wall outside the sitting room where the piano was. And I used to jam out on this piano all the time. And I was just walking into the room once I saw this little thing, and it just said number five, Fatima. And it was this lovely little tile with the Virgin Mary standing and all this. And it kind of looked like a CD cover. It was the same dimensions and all. And I was like, that would be a sweet name for an album. Oh, my gosh, that’s such a good idea. I should totally call the album Fatima because obviously my mam and everything.
Well, we have to talk about your mum.
And I guess a little bit about your background because it all comes into play in your music. So the basic potted version is your mum and dad came to Ireland from, well you tell us the story.
Okay. We came to Ireland when I was one and a half. My mum and dad moved here, and I’m the youngest of four kids, so I was one and a half and the eldest was eight.
And they came from Libya.
From Libya, from Benghazi in Libya. So they’re doctors. And there was like this Erasmus situation between Ireland and Libya back then. And also something a lot of people do or don’t know but Ireland and Libya had a very good relationship because Gaddafi used to.
Used to fly arms to the IRA.
So yeah, Libya used to support the IRA quite a lot. So they also used to have these little Erasmus things going on and all this. So, anyway, neither here nor there.
Your parents were not here because of the arms running. They were here because they were doctors.
I just want to make that clear.
So they were doing their postgraduate studies and everything, but the motive was also really to live here because my mum was very aware of, like, she knew things were going to kick off in Libya politically. Our family has ties to Libya in terms of political history, because my grandfather, my mum’s dad was a Court Marshall judge, and he had actually imprisoned Gaddafi before he was President. When he was a soldier, because he assaulted another soldier. And there’s just like, this whole grudge between Gaddafi and my granddad. So my mum was like, we should leave.
Of all the people in the world you do not want to hold a grudge against you. Gaddafi would be right up there.
So she made the decision that we should really leave and not go back to live there, but we would go back for holidays every year and stuff. So that was cool. And then, just as the years went on, family, we started growing up. My dad wasn’t really integrating. He wasn’t really finding it easy to integrate. But also, we were quite locked in with the Libyan community at that stage. I used to go to the mosque every Saturday and Sunday to study Arabic and everything. And then, I think I was about eleven, they made the decision to get divorced. So that was sort of culturally, how would you say ? It’s not exactly keeping with.
Well, it’s frowned upon, right?
Definitely. Definitely. But actually, it was a very necessary thing that happened because we had a lot of growing to do and we were really embracing the culture here. And also, when you’re a kid, you don’t think about things like culture clash, you just exist. And then you just wonder why anyone would have a problem with it.
Your mum’s an ophthalmologist.
And when you first came here, you were living in Dublin.
And then at some point along the way, you guys moved to, well Julianstown, Drogheda. Your mum is in the hospital in Drogheda, is she?
So she used to be the eye doctor in the Lourdes Hospital, but she retired from there in March 2020 and she has her private practice and stuff now. She calls it retirement, but she works her ass off still.
Yeah, well, just to sidetrack here a little bit, I’m interested that you’re from you live in Julianstown, because, of course, my grandmother, I grew up visiting my grandmother in the summers and all of that. And she lived on the beach in Bettystown, like one of those houses that literally she had a little bit of grass and then you had three steps and you’re on the sand.
Oh, I know the one. I know exactly where you’re talking about.
Neptune Terrace beside the Neptune Hotel. And then I went to school in Gormanston.
And we used to sneak out of the school to go down to the beach. And then sometimes if we were feeling really bold, we would walk up the beach to Mosney to Butlin’s.
And all of that, those things that I’ve mentioned there play quite an outsized role in your life at the moment, even. I guess, before I get into what you’re doing in Mosney, let’s go back slightly to more about your mother. So your mother, after living here for quite a long time, raising her kids here, being an ophthalmologist here, then ended up going home to become the Health Minister after the revolution. How did that come about?
That is pretty wild. I mean, Hi my mum was the first Health Minister after the revolution in Libya. That is wild.
I know it’s gas. I wish I just had like a chill story. No, I’m just kidding. I love it. So, yeah, when I was about 16, 17.
Doing your leaving cert?
Yeah. So the Libyan revolution kicked off. So after the divorce, when I was about 11, my mum really had more time and space to really fulfill her dreams and live her life to its fullest, right? She created a blog. And the blog was exposing the injustice that was happening in Libya with regards to Gaddafi. So one thing about the Libyan revolution and a lot of the spring that was happening at that time, it actually started online. It started on social media. So she was one of the bloggers that would write about, this is happening, like kidnappings, all these different things that were going on that people were actually really not talking about because they were terrified to talk about it. And if you talked about it, you would really get killed. Like, it wasn’t just like you’d get a slap on the wrist. Like Gaddafi would send people to your house and you would disappear. But we lived in Ireland, so that was okay. You could get away with it. No one’s going to come out here, right? And that’s the thing. If you’re doing any activist work for Libya, best way to do it is not live there.
But do it from a distance. And she also was one of the only people who was doing it and actually using her name. Like she wasn’t hiding or staying anonymous or anything. So between that and then setting up a charity called the Irish Libyan Emergency Aid when the revolution first kicked off, because obviously there was a war and a lot of medical aid was needed. So she set up this charity that would basically send over anything that Ireland was throwing out from the medical system, essentially like paracetamol, blankets, stretchers, ambulances, things that were just like being gotten rid of, they would ship them over. So that was probably happening for a few months. Then she got nominated in November 2011, and the nomination was for her to become the Health Minister in Libya. And she got voted in and it literally happened within like two days. She was gone. It was nuts.
And this is happening while you are doing your leaving cert.
So you are the typical Irish students at the absolute high of this pressure and stress and whatever doing your leaving cert and then your mum suddenly says, I’m off to Libya to be Health Minister. Like, it’s pretty wild.
Yeah, it was a bit weird. But you go into autopilot when something like that happens. So I don’t think I actually took a moment to be particularly frazzled. I think I just was like, okay, this is happening now, which maybe is its own form of shock, but you just had to get on with it. It’s such a rare circumstance that I couldn’t really make it all about me.
And you must have been really proud.
I was proud, but I was really afraid. And at the end of the day, I was still a hormonal teenager who was like, what about my life? Whatever about all those lives you’re about to save. So there was a bit of that, like, let me not lie. So I did just get on with it though at first, to be honest, we all did. Yes. I was upset in terms of I was stressed, like, looking after the house and stuff. It was just me and my brothers living in Julianstown at this stage, you know? And then having to study and all that, of course. But I wasn’t actually like, oh, my God, I can’t believe she’s doing this, which is, I feel even weird that I even have to say that, but it’s actually something that I encountered a lot in the school that I was in because I remember being stressed and knowing how unique the situation was, but also knowing that it needed to just be dealt with. There was no animosity coming from me, but I remember one of the teachers just being, like, trying to be mad at my mum or something for me.
Like, abandoning you during your leaving cert or whatever.
Yeah. I was kind of like, how dare you? Like, this is such a rare circumstance. I’m sorry my mom had to go and like, save a country. I’m not going to be like, that’s terrible. How could she?
Also, some 17 year old girls would be glad to see the back of their mother and have a free gaff.
I did have a free gaff. Yeah.
For a year.
Which actually did give me the chance to do quite a lot of growing, which I needed as well. So, yeah, I’m really glad for it because it actually made me become a woman very quickly. Like, I went from being a young girl to being like, I’m an adult now. In terms of things that are still so prevalent in who I am now. And even just like, basic life skills, from looking after yourself as a human to a house and all that, those are things that you kind of need to learn at some stage. So I learned them quite quick.
My impression of you is that you always pretty easily blended the two cultures, in a way. The Libyan side of you is very present. Your parents, going to mosque at weekends and learning Arabic and all of that. Yet you also seem very comfortable in your Irish teenage girl leaving cert thing, too. And the first time I met you and you did the song Silk, that song in itself is this sort of blend of the two cultures.
Silk by Farah Elle plays.
And, have you always treated the mix quite lightly and easily, or?
That’s actually such a good question.
Thank you, I’m very good at that.
I have gotten to a stage where I think the only way to embrace both is to do it lightly because it was such a heavy point of contention for me. I didn’t even realize I was Libyan really until I was about 17 and my mum had to go back to Libya. Until the Libyan revolution happened and it really had a huge effect on our lives. It was only then that I was like, okay, this is actually like a really huge, unavoidable part of who I am.
But had you been going to Libya?
The last time I had gone I was honestly like 11. And I had such a negative experience with the Libyan community in terms of not really being taken seriously or being seen as kind of very haram. So there was kind of a lot of negative connotations that I had, but I didn’t want to hold on to those. I actually really wanted to embrace the fun aspects of it, which was very simple things like getting my henna done by my granny and just like having an ability to speak a secret language with my family or secretly understanding Arabic if I’m on the bus. All these things that I found really great about it. And then obviously the benefits like not getting sunburned, and feeling like there was something about me that I was yet to still understand. But I had to work through the heavy part of it as well, though, to actually get to a point of joyful acceptance.
And musically, because you’re mostly self taught. I mean, you do go to BIM, as so many of the young artists around at the moment in Dublin did. But you’re mostly self taught as a kid and all of that. So were you playing and listening to only Western pop music when you were 13 and 14, or was there always sort of a mixture in there?
I’m laughing because I had a lot of extremes growing up, okay. So it was a lot of Western music. So my mum would be playing things like Boney M in the car, like all this, okay. And then I’d get in the car with my dad and it was a total different experience, like God love him. He’s very intense, okay. And I’d just sit in the car and we’d just be in total silence. It would just be the Quran being played. So it was like party car with my mom and be a good Muslim with my dad. So even though they were both raised in the same town and same background, it’s just different mindsets, right? So I didn’t realize the impact that was going to have on me, like, musically, obviously. But I’m sure when my dad was playing the Quran in the car, he didn’t expect me to grow up and be, like, remix. So I was just like, okay, grand. So it was a mix of everything. And then obviously, I had my own stuff that I was into. I pretty much listened to everything that my siblings were listening to. So that was, like, a lot of hip hop.
I’d say 80% of the music I listened to was hip hop, and the other 20% was, like, heavy metal for a couple of years. And then I started, I went through this really, like, really a long stretch of an obsession with, like, ska and reggae and, like, mods and 60 subcultures. I got really into it for years.
But am I right then in thinking that Silk was, that song was the kind of first time where you purposely.
Blended them in a track.
Silk by Farah Elle plays.
That was written, I wrote that song two years after the Libyan revolution had happened, and I’d been through a particularly difficult time with my family because we had a lot of stuff to work through after my mom came home, naturally. She had a few assassination attempts done on her when she was there. So there was a lot of PTSD in the family that we probably needed to face, and it wasn’t easy, but it was very transformative because it was then kind of creating this situation of like, well, okay, we have a choice. Are we going to try and block this whole thing out that happened, or are we going to take from it the parts that actually are really good for us and will help us heal and grow? So music was one of the best ways to actually do a bit of healing. And I can’t separate my own healing from my family’s. It’s not possible for me. For years, I wanted to fight it and be like, even in interviews and stuff, trying to be like, I just want to make it about the music, but I can’t separate them. I have to be honest. Okay.
So in the two ways that it happened was one of them was writing. So I did a lot of songwriting. I did a lot of sitting at the piano, I did a lot of singing, and that was really good for me. Like, it helped me just, like, unfiltered get it off my chest. And then the other was having music in the house. So we used to be one of those houses that had the news on in the background all the time when we were kids. And I knew just how it felt that it was really bad for the subconscious. So we made a decision then to not put the news on in the background anymore and just put on very calm music. And it caused this huge shift in our family, especially for my mom, when she really needed it. And it was kind of amazing. So we just kind of in this, unknowingly at the time, very synchronized way of moving forward. It just kind of clicked then. And I realized also through going to therapy, by the time I was 19, I was like, oh, there’s a name for this, this experience that I’ve had, and it’s my favorite term that I always use is just culture clash.
It was just a culture class.
But you have on a number of other occasions too, you have referred to music as being a sanctuary.
That’s very clear in that story. Is that always the way you’ve seen it? Do you use music as something to retreat into or to sort of let go of things? You have this other expression about getting it out of your bones, or is it a kind of therapy?
It’s literally all of what you just said. So I would say as a whole, it just helps me and a lot of people in the world, I’d say would agree with this, but it just helps you see the beauty in life sometimes. It can make things, now, it’s also a distraction. So as much as I love music and how amazingly powerful it is, I also think silence can be like that. So I have this appreciation for both. But sometimes I feel like the music gets you to the silence. Sometimes you can listen to a song and be like, oh, my God, this whole world of things that I was experiencing has just been compressed into this feeling for three minutes that I can enjoy but still feel whatever needs to be felt. And then the song is over and you just feel like that peace sometimes. And that’s when the silence you can sing into silence or whatever you want to call it but.
Well, you’re going to do a couple of songs for us, so I want to do the first one in a moment. But just before you do, though, because we’re on the subject, I mentioned Mosney.
And we’ve been talking about music as sanctuary and all of that. So when I was a kid running up to Mosney, it was Butlin’s the holiday camp, it was fun and silly. And then, of course, a number of years ago, it became a direct provision center. And in a way, it’s kind of almost like the poster child for direct provision in this country. And that’s not necessarily a great poster. And you work with people in direct provision in Mosney using music.
Yeah. So there’s a few places that I, so I give music and wellness workshops. I do them every week, and I’ve been doing them in Mosney for a few years now. I facilitate a women’s group in there as well. I do them in Drogheda as well. Basically, I give these workshops or these sessions, facilitate them to just kind of create a space where you can kind of improve your emotional intelligence or whatever you want to call it. But it’s just through having a space to express yourself through music. And a lot of it, it’s very simple. A lot of it is just based around, like, the warmups that I learned before shows. And like, I also have, I’m playing it down a bit. I actually have done a lot of studying on, like, trauma healing and psychotherapy. So I mix that in with my musical experience.
And your language skills.
And my language skills are useful. Yeah. It’s just to have a place where ease can be created and you can just work through some stuff without necessarily having to talk about it and to celebrate your identity. So I particularly enjoy giving these workshops to people from ethnic minority backgrounds because it really helped me embrace where I’m from without deliberately being like, I’m going to sit down and embrace where I’m from.
You know, It just was like, oh, this is what my mother tongue sounds like in music. And also indigenously all of us, music would have been like a serious practice for healing and so would have been dancing. So a lot of the time I’m talking 5000 years ago, if you had a sore throat, your tribe would just tell you to sing for a couple of hours. Or if you were having psychosis, they would make you stomp on the ground for hours to ground yourself or tell you you need more time in nature on your own to reflect. So I’m just kind of there to share those practices with people. Just let them know that there are tools that we can use to protect our energy.
Well, let’s have a song.
So tell me about the first song you’re going to do.
Play It By Ear.
Which is out of the single.
Yes. So it’s one of the first songs that I’m releasing from the album, which will be out later this year. And I’m so excited.
The album, which is called Fatima. Okay, let’s hear it.
Farah Elle performs Play It By Ear.
Gorgeous. You must be very pleased with the reaction Play It By Ear has gotten. It’s gotten a lot of airplay.
Yeah, I actually am because I haven’t actually really released music, so it feels really normal but also it is a really new feeling. I actually feel a lot more at ease that it’s happening because I’ve said this for a while now, but when you’re sitting on that many songs and haven’t released them, you kind of end up in like this musical constipation where you just really want to release it before you start writing more stuff. So that’s where I’m at.
And how do you feel about putting it out in the world? Just because the kind of stuff that I do is very ephemeral. You go to the show, it happens in front of you, and then it’s gone. And six months later, people might remember tiny little flashes of it or whatever. But when you release music, it’s a moment. It’s all perfectly recorded. It’s there forever, and it goes out into the world and you change and move on and do different things. But that little moment stays the same.
Yeah, that’s so well put.
And in a way, you have no control over it anymore. It is its own thing out in the world, doing its own thing. I’m always interested in musicians, how they feel about that in a way.
Yeah. For me, I definitely know that it’s a certain capsule in time. I’m not the same person who wrote that song anymore at all. I don’t even sound the same anymore. It’s so funny, but I still love it. It’s the way that you love your 22 year old self.
I’m able to hold it at arm’s length actually now. I’m not too attached to it. I love the album and I still love it when I listen to it. It’s just that I’m able to separate myself from it now, and I just want to work on new stuff. So for me, releasing them now is like, for me, well overdue. I’m like, Here you go, y’all. And I’m not going to take it too personally. If you love it or you hate it, that’s fine by me. But the main thing is here it is, and it’s a gift for everyone.
Was it always going to be music for you?
Yeah, I think so.
There was no other possibility. You have siblings, so maybe they, older siblings, so maybe they took some pressure off. Were your parents hoping you were going to become a doctor?
Yeah. Oh they definitely, my mum definitely thought music was just going to be a hobby for ages. My dad, as I said, was out of the picture by the time I was 11, so he didn’t really get a say. But if he was around, that would be like a total no go. I would not be sitting here right now. But my mum always loved music, saw it as a hobby, though. And then it wasn’t until she first came to my gig where I played Silk, and it was her first time hearing me really, like, on stage to a crowd. And that’s when she was like, oh, this is actually cool. You can do this. This is a career move. And it wasn’t that I was waiting for her to sort of give me the permission, but it definitely felt good knowing I had her support, because you don’t always end up with that, and that can be hard.
You have a very supportive family.
Your brother takes pictures. The website is gorgeous. Tell me about your siblings a little bit.
Yeah. I really love my family and we’ve been through some tough times, and I just feel really grateful that we’re still a unit despite everything. So I have my eldest brother, Abe, who has taken loads of photos, really great photos. He’s a photographer. He actually was in a band and was a songwriter for years. I kind of copied him when I was about 9, to be really honest. I was like, I want to be Abe when I grow up.
But another non-medic disappointment to your parents.
Yes, exactly. We’re all in the artistic realm. And then my sister, gosh. Fawz is her name. Fawz means victory in Arabic, by the way. She is just, like, honestly spent so much of her teenage years and just her life just nurturing me in so many different ways.
What’s the age gap?
She is seven years older than me, and she’s just like my best friend. She taught me about sisterhood. She taught me about kindness. I feel like if Fawz wasn’t around, I could have ended up being, like, kind of a bitch. She was there to make sure that I was, like, just good hearted always. Yeah.
There’s another brother, right.
And then there’s Omar, closest to me in age, just like, the smartest person I’ve ever met. I call him my Wikipedia, and he did the artwork for the album.
Cause he’s a graphic designer.
Actually, funnily enough, not by trade, but is really good at it. I was, like, so shocked at that. Like, the artwork. Yeah, he just got it.
So what is he by trade?
So by trade, he did product design for a few years. He did do medicine for a few years as well, but he didn’t finish it. So he’s the only one, I know he gave her a teaser. He’s the only one who kind of dabbled in that realm. But I think my mum was always very adamant not to force us into some line of work, you know. She wanted us to choose our own thing, so that’s pretty cool.
The older I get, actually, in my case, I really like all my siblings, but the older, I get the more I realized that that’s not actually entirely common. Lots of people love their siblings, but don’t necessarily like them that much. I very strongly get the impression from you that you absolutely adore your siblings and your all best mates.
Yeah, we have a good rapport, definitely. Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t absolutely want to kill each other sometimes, but, yeah, there’s definitely a respect between us, a huge amount of respect and a lot of love. And no matter what’s going on, like, if we need each other, we will show up always. It really doesn’t matter what’s going on, but if one of us needs something, we’ll be there.
And are you very different personality wise? I mean, one of the interesting things about you and you have this thing which we were talking about, when we were talking about you behind your back and sort of admiring it enviously, you say you work three days and then the rest of the time you’re sort of nurturing your creative self and self care and all that and that. And that you treat that equally as important as the work things. That’s very important to you. Self care, finding time for yourself, things.
Yeah, there’s always things to do, but you also just need time to exist and to just be free. And that’s where the creative juices actually flow, like during your playtime. So, yeah, I definitely prioritize, I think a three days, now I’m obviously very privileged to be able to do that, but I worked hard to get to that stage as well. It took years of grind and definitely not three day weeks to get to a point where I can be like, yeah, so I’ll just work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and the rest of the days will be off. Because on days off, you’ve still got to do things like, yeah, take care of yourself, eat well, get some time in nature.
Buy toilet paper.
Yeah, buy toilet paper, do your grocery shopping, do the laundry. There’s actually so much that comes with being human.
Being alive. Yeah there is. It’s a total pain in the ass sometimes.
Yeah. Like it’s mad. And also because I’m able to do that for myself, I can look after the people close to me better because they might not have as much free time to be able to do that. So, like, if my partner is working from nine to six and doesn’t get a breather at all, I can look after the food or I can that kind of stuff. So, yeah, it’s definitely something I really believe in. I think a five day week is so unfair.
You need to move to France.
To me that’s like, that a crime though. I just can’t believe we’re still doing a five day week out here.
You’re a solo artist, but you seem to like collaboration.
You’ve collaborated, we’ve been enjoying the Oh Honey one, with the.
Oh, with the CunninLynguists. Greatest bad name ever.
Oh Honey by CunninLynguists ft Farah Elle plays.
And you’re just bringing out your first album after being around for.
A while, yeah. But what’s the dream? What’s the ambition?
My dream is to get some juicy sync deals on a couple of the songs on the album and just sit on my fat ass while the money comes in. With, like, my little Orchard.
You want your music on a BMW commercial.
I can sell out for one song, it’s okay. But to just have time and space to keep writing and to have the music support me financially. And that going to work for me means going to create music or write music. If I’m for some reason meeting new people in new spaces and it’s all because of music and then also getting paid on top of it. That’s the dream. Like, I’m already there and it’s lovely. Yeah. So I think things like sync deals and stuff, they just help you buy more time to just keep doing what you’re doing, which is just great.
And clearly you’ve this very big interest in the sort of psychotherapy wellness and all of that. Is that always going to be part of the story?
Yeah, I think I’m always going to keep that in because that gives me a different kind of motivation. That keeps my values in check with my actions. I think I do those things with myself to stay well. But also we need community and to be able to be in a vulnerable space with people that’s quite healing gives just all around nourishment for me and anyone involved as well. So I definitely think that’s a need more than anything to keep doing that and also to stay grounded, because I love playing live shows, but it’s hard to stay grounded when you’re doing a lot of live shows. You can just end up in the sky the whole time and then you come back down to Earth and it’s like really lonely. So I don’t want to commit only to performing because then I’ll just lose sense of my groundedness that I need to.
God, you’re very mature. You’re very mature. Head on the sholders. When I was your age, I was like, throw me up in the sky and I don’t ever want to come down.
That’s cool, though.
I’m addicted to all of this.
You need a bit of that.
You’re going to play us out with a second song. It’s called Desert. Do you want to tell us a little about it.
Desert is about that quiet place where you don’t have to entertain anybody. You just are with yourself. It’s your Sunday morning lie in. It’s your needing to recharge from the world moment. It’s a bit sad. It’s also a bit empowering.
Well, I wouldn’t expect any less from you. Let’s hear it.
Farah Elle performs Desert.
Gorgeous song. You have a lovely voice.
Oh yeah? Thank you.
Farah. When was the last time you were back in Libya?
I was 11.
11, you’ll have to go.
I know I’m dying to. I actually have a big goal of playing a massive show there in a few years. Yeah.
In general. Do you like the live gigging?
I love it. I love connecting with the audience. I love looking at them deep in their eyeballs when I’m singing and just the atmosphere of being together and listening like that. I love, love playing live shows.
I agree, there’s nothing like it.
Farah it’s been lovely to chat to you again. Not to sound like your creepy old Aunty but it’s love to see you blossoming into a wonderful young woman.
Thanks, Aunty Panti.
We’ll have to do it again in a few years and catch up again when I have no doubt you’ll have up to loads of interesting things that we can talk about again. So thanks a million and looking forward to the release of Fatima.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Thanks for being here.