Farah Elle: “it feels like having a really wholesome catch up with a friend.”

by James Hendicott
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Farah Elle is a fascinating character. It feels like she’s been around the Irish music scene for years, and yet it’s mostly been in a live capacity: her popular stage shows have been accompanied by relatively little recorded music, leaving a hungry audience waiting to tap into what is yet to arrive.

Following on from a popular cover of Massive Attack anthem ‘Teardrops’, new single ‘Play It By Ear’ is taken from the album ‘FATIMA’, due later this year, which will draw to some degree on Farah Elle’s mixed Irish and Libyan roots. The singer has called it a “coming of age record.”

“I’ve spent so long with these songs. I wrote them years ago, so it sort of feels like my youth,” she says. “It’s been quite motivating to finally get them out there. It makes me want to do more, which is really nice. I did one, and the build up was huge, and now I just want them all out of my system.”

Read more in this weeks Dublin Gazette out in stores now

“I wasn’t really aiming for anything in particular with the album, but afterwards, listening to my own music, it became so clear. The themes are a reflection of what I was going through at the time. I wasn’t consciously getting things off my chest, but looking back…”

“Part of that is my piano feels like a good friend to me, it feels like having a really wholesome catch up with a friend, and lets me take a picture of what I’m seeing around me. I’m not really great at articulating my feelings when I’m feeling them. I can be quite scattered and anxious. With songs, I can describe what’s going on with sound. Words can be so powerful, but they’re also so limiting. I don’t like to describe the meaning behind songs in part because I think they should be open to interpretation.”

Farah Elle attended BIMM, and credits that mostly with her stage development. “I learnt how to perform,” she says of Dublin’s equivalent of ‘Rock School’. “I really got to know my performance style, who I am on stage and the way I communicate when I have a platform like that. That was such a gift, but I didn’t really take any academic knowledge. It’s not a place to go for theory, it’s more for experience of how the music industry works, and the importance of knowing that nobody does anything quite like the next individual. Everyone has something unique.”

“No matter where you’re from there’s always something valuable about where we come from. We should be proud of our backgrounds, I really believe that. I used to fight my background for a while. I used to get a lot of industry types telling me that the Libyan thing was my niche and I should hone in on that for my PR stuff. It made me feel a bit icky hearing that, as I felt I had so much more to offer.”

“Then I realised, why am I fighting the truth in that? It’s not like I advertise the fact that I’m Libyan. It’s more that I have a really complex relationship with where I’m from, and that’s why I write music.”

“I think identity and ego are quite linked, and there’s something quite liberating, too, about letting the attachment to our identity dissipate, and just have experiences. Life can be quite complex, I think, but also quite simple. I didn’t think of any of this when I was writing the songs, but a few years later, it’s easy for me to look back, and have that conversation, almost, with my 21 year old self.”

‘Play It By Ear’ by Farah Elle is out now.

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