Kayan is a Techno, House and Multicultural music producer, and one of a very small number of female Bahraini DJs on the island. Bahrain Arts Magazine caught up with her on a break from the studio, and chatted about her journey into music and as a DJ and music producer, exploring what motivates and inspires her and drives her into producing her beautifully unique and often emotionally moving sounds.
Thanks for taking time out to answer a few questions Kayan. Firstly, let's go back to the very beginning; how and when did you start your incredible musical journey?
Since an early age I was always a deep listener; always allowing music to take me on a journey, allowing music to connect with me, and for me to connect to music as deeply as possible. But I soon realised that just listening to music wasn’t enough, I needed more. And so, in 2009 and literally the day after the inspiration came to me, I bought a violin, registered for classes and from then on my whole life changed; I studied Western classical music for sometime, but was awarded a scholarship to study eastern classical arts and so shifted to Eastern classical musical system in Sanskrit, which I then studied for four continuous years. I think I am the only person in Bahrain who has studied south Indian classical music, and one of the very few Arab women in the world who have attempted to study this system, which is known for its complexity. I also took a degree in music therapy. I then started working for a local English radio station 96.5fm, took BBC World courses in creating features and understanding sound, and started working with musical software, and creating musical experiences and sound textures. And haven't stopped ever since!
Who most inspires you musically?
There isn’t a particular person who has inspired me. However, the dedication I have seen in my gurus who taught me classical music significantly touched my heart; they were very sincere in their teaching. But it wasn’t easy to find them and I had to look hard. Music to me is another language, another mean of expression allowing me to be inwardly inspired. And for me, everything comes as a direct inspiration from universal energies and messages, and I act upon them in the form of a live performance or recorded pieces. I imagine... therefore I create.
How did you choose your particular style?
When it comes to why I play and produce multicultural textures, recorded or live; it's because of my intensive theoretical and practical background of studying music classically, and of developing appreciation for different colours and sound from various parts of the world. In the end that is what multicultural music is all about; blending different colours of ethnic sounds with electronic music.
When it comes to playing techno or house music, it's because I love to dance and I love to make other people dance. I love the depth behind this genre of electronic music, and I try to express that love through live sets and sound experiences. What’s beautiful about the depth of this genre is that when listening to it at a party, you can be in the middle of a crowd but still, as you move to the beat, feel it’s a personal dance and sound experience. I love that feeling and I love making people feel it too. However, I am very selective of the sounds I play from each genre, depending on the event and crowd, and what would resonate with them, as well as with me.
What motivates and inspires you?
What inspires me... raw creative artistic energy. Life and its colours. Feelings. Connections. What motivates me... I work hard on my dreams, everything I feel passionate about, enjoying the hard work and the journey of learning and growing - there is certain beauty about it. I get motivated by simply wanting to be the best version of myself - both as a human and as an artist - and to continuously seek growth. For me, art is my tool of expression, sound particularly, and I feel very fortunate for the ability to do that.
How do you transform that initial thought or idea into something tangible?
I always feel so determined to manifest all I image into reality, no matter what it is and even if it has never been done before. I enjoy witnessing ideas coming into reality. I carefully listen to LIFE, as there are always meanings and messages, and things to notice and to get get inspired by, and the deeper I connect and listen to life, the more beautiful the art manifestation is. Sometimes I feel I want to experience a particular art and music experience that doesn’t exist, and so I try to create it in the best way I possibly can, and to celebrate that.
What are your performance highlights?
In 2017, I was honoured to perform an opening act for Europe based DJ Onyvaa, and more recently for the British singer James Arthur at the Spring of Culture festival in 2018. Also I performed at the Formula 1 Grand Prix 2018. I have customized sound experiences for fashion shows including Saks Fifth Avenue in 2017 and 2018. I also create my own party and event concepts under the theme In Sound We Trust and have so far launched four editions, merging dancing and painting with music and was very fortunate to have a team of some of the best artists in Bahrain painting and dancing live to my music.
Tell me about your community outreach program.
Yes, as a certified music therapist, I also run a community outreach program during the day. Called Project Resonance, it’s a project dedicated to spreading awareness about sound and music. I run workshops on resonance and sound alchemy, and share my knowledge of sound with all who wish to benefit from it. Currently I’m dedicated to utilizing sound for therapy sessions for children with special needs.
What are your plans, goals and dreams for the future?
My dream is to play all my instruments - mostly the electric violin - while DJing live, and to master all the technical skills required for the process, and mostly to create pleasant and enchanting music. My dream is also to be technically more able to manifest all my ideas into professional productions, and to create more concepts under the theme In Sound We Trust; ultimately creating an authentic and unique experience into the music scene.