An interview with Farah Elle

Farah, how where your first thoughts after beeing the first time of your life with a Libyan crowd?

“We Libyans find it quite difficult to listen to each other, mostly because of all the differences that everybody is focused on and certainly the ongoing problems that are happening. But a lot also because of colonialism, everybody is trying to get their voices heard. All these factors have made us bad listeners.

I have tried really hard in the last couple of years and I have only learned to listen in the last year ot two. I find that quite a challenge, and a surprise being a challenge being with all of them, because I am physicly ver far away.  because I was suddenly with people that have another daily routine, I can see how painful it is and how the current situation affects their self expression very essentially.

That was a big surprise for me.

What does it mean to be Libyan?

I definitely noticed that Libyan people have a swagger. They have a really cool vibe of being Libyans. That is nothing a could really see as an adult because I have not spent time with Libyan people in a long time. For example in one of the nights when we all have been in the Shisha bar together just talking I realised that Libyan are able to have three conversations at once. The ability to socialise and have this really cool swagger. Something I could really take pride in. I liked that a lot.

When they speak Arabic they don’t say it is Arabic, they call it Libyan. I like that, there is a certain pride in being this very random blend of everything, an animation of random stuff that is going on

It contradicts the prejudices about Libya, right? It seems Libya has some specialities that are very different from neighbouring countries.

Did you ever research about Libyan music?

One big surprise was that there is a lot of Libyan reggae. The whole concept of reggae and ska when it all began was all about unity, uniting all the different places and working together.  So its interesting to hear that there is a lot of Libyan Reggae. That could be quite powerful if used.

Playing with Fuad and Aiman I have learned a lot and their Libyan sound was new for me.

How does it feel to be a Libyan in Ireland? Whats the reactions to your roots?

The funniest reaction is from Libyans themselves. Everybody from Africa is superexited if you tell them that you are from Africa. That is always a positive reaction. But when I meet other Libyans they are mostly shocked since I am so unconventional to them. That s the main reaction. Especially because I am so untraditional. So many I have met on the tour could not believe that I am a Libyan woman. I told them, yes that is what a woman can be in 2020.

Music is a nice way to forget about the bullshit and actually connect and feel together. In that way I am quite lucky.  But I am also not paying a lot of attention to people s negative reactions. Because they are not that kind of people I am trying to impress anyhow

There are very often negative reactions in Libyan conversations, also because of the dire situation. How do you cope with that?

It is often a reaction to the individual journey of people, where they are at in that moment. So for me if people cannot cope with something that is quite different to them, it is for me just a reaction of where they are. We are then just not in the same perspective. Two people always have the same perspective anyhow. I mostly get positive reactions. Elham Saudi, the participant of one of the political talks, said something that struck me. Her daughter is under 10 years old and she is looking for a positive role model for her ever since. She was so excited to see a a compassionate feminist, somebody that is doing her thing. She liked my style and this was very encouraging. I git mostly positive reactions. If you are positive in life, you mostly get positive reactions.

What do Libyans have in common?

The vibes in talking and singing! With Black Box and Breaking the Ice we have started a journey on which we will try to discover what is the Libyan DNA in music, art in culture in general.