Closing out our Muslim Women’s Day celebration with Muslim Girl, we’ve reached out to musical acts Aint Afraid and Shébani to talk about how they got started on the music scene, their inspirations and future projects. Keep reading to learn more about the artists and their music.
For more on the collaborative series, we spoke to Muslim fashion influencers about their personal style and hijabi women around the world about beauty means to them.
When did you begin your musical journey?
Our musical journey naturally began at a young age. We have been professionally recording music within the last year and half, but we’ve been performing and creating art seriously for the last decade. We began this journey because it is the most authentic way we exist. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t creating or singing, or finding joy in art. The other day, we couldn’t get Beyoncé’s track “Be Alive” out of our heads, and we kept singing our own rendition of it — a girl asked if we were working on a cover of that song and we said, “No, we just love to sing.” Making music and singing is all of who we are. We couldn’t imagine not sharing the joy and peace that we get from making and sharing music.
Where do you find your lyrical and musical inspiration?
It’s always hard to name who inspires us because of how much inspiration we get from all kinds of brilliance. What is always clear is that unique, strong and hard-working vibes inspire movement in us. So people like Lauryn Hill, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and J.Cole; works like that of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Maya Angelou and Kehinde Wiley; fashion like that of Teyana Taylor, Tierra Whack, Rihanna and Zendaya all inspire us — and the list continues to go on.
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Talk to us about what you try to achieve through your art. What do you want your listeners to take away?
In our music and art, we hope to create space for conversations, challenging topics, healing, joy, growth and representation. All we want to do is make people smile, share messages of joy and affirmation. We also recognize that existing in the music industry means that we are opening doors and influencing change. What we’ve realized is that our presence is necessary.
How has it been working with your twin and building your brand as a family?
It’s all natural. Since the womb, we have been creating with each other and our mother. Aint Afraid only feels like an extension of that. We always say we are each other’s best partners. Our creativity, work ethic and grind complement one another. It’s so fun together, we are always encouraging each other creatively and vocally. We love what we do, and we love that we get to do it together.
Tell us about the journey of how you got into music.
I think I’ve subconsciously worked towards it my whole life. I was always either singing or dancing in my room, and the entertainment world was all I could think of, but I never shared it with anyone because I was too shy. I think by the time I graduated university and realized I hated my job, I immediately dropped everything in 2016 and went to BIMM London to study music. That’s also when I dropped my first original project, Alter Ego. When asked why I began my musical journey, it is so difficult [to put it into words] — it’s just a feeling that I had and still have. I’m made for this.
What inspires your songwriting?
My own life experiences. My music is almost like my diary, I express a lot of my emotions and the incidents I go through in life. I tackle pain, emotions, reminiscence, anxiety, depression, past trauma, mental health, being your authentic self. Real human connection and the human mind inspire me a lot.
Who is your dream music collaborator?
I know I’ve got many, but it’s got to be NAO. I think to me, that would be the ultimate step in my musical career. She’s incredible and I have so much to learn from her as an artist, songwriter and human, so I’d love to work with her on a project.
You recently released your latest single, “Burn Me Out” which focuses heavily on the topic of gaslighting. Could you tell us more about it?
“Burn Me Out” is a therapeutic song to me. It’s an ode to the trust issues and the paranoia that I’ve developed along the way from past relationships. A lot of us tend to become extremely gullible when experiencing your first gaslighting incident. You believe the person and you start blaming yourself for even thinking negatively about them. You become the crazy one, the paranoid one, the selfish one. When all along you’ve just been lied to and gaslighted. With repetition, that’s a lot to carry on your shoulders throughout your life. So, when I wrote “Burn Me Out”, I wanted to use it as a healing tool, a confessional. It’s almost like I needed to drop everything then and there when the song was finished, and try to come to terms with the fact that I’m not the one to blame. I just fell for the bait.