#throwback from May 2017. I spent two of the most tranquil weeks of my life in the gorgeous city of Meknes surrounded by some of the most extraordinary people I had ever met. Myself, my assistant and engineer flew over to record content for my upcoming album(s). However, I knew that for this trip to be fruitful, I needed spiritual inspiration. Sidi Ismail Boujia (pictured in the centre) was kind enough to arrange private trips to meet sages and visit shrines (Meknes has some of the most beautiful shrines anywhere!). We also made a private trip to Oujda close to the border of Algeria where we met some of the country’s luminaries. Needless to say, I felt totally charged and inspired!
My engineer created a makeshift studio and all recordings took place in the #tafilalet hotel suite. The only instrument I had was a tiny 1 octave midi keyboard. It was at this very setting where we recorded (and completed) the new single ‘Al Faqir’. One afternoon, I sang what was intended to be a mere test vocal take and the entire recording—including the pad and backing vocals—took no more than an hour to complete.
After returning home from Meknes, I spent over a month trying to produce this song and take it ‘to the next stage’ as, for example, I never intended my voice to remain that low throughout the song. But then I realised my approach was totally wrong. This was not a song at all. This was a spiritual chant inspired by the barakah (or grace) of Meknes and the spirituality I lived and experienced there. I subsequently went back to the original unadulterated recording from Meknes!!
It’s undoubtedly one of the fastest pieces I have ever completed but without a doubt, one of the most rewarding and spiritual ones, too. After finishing the test vocal take, I asked one of the brothers (I prefer not to name him) to listen on headphones to make sure my Arabic pronunciation is on point. 10 seconds into the song I could see tears rolling down his face. I knew right then we ‘had it’. This song was complete on that very first take.
Huge thanks to my beautiful friends and brothers from Meknes who can be heard chanting “Allah Hay” (from the left):
Sidi Mohammed El Alami,
Sidi Mohammed El Ouafi,
Sidi Ismail Boujia and
Sidi Mustafa Al Ashqar.
With Ramadan approaching, I hope Al Faqir reminds us all that true wealth lies with The Rich (God) and we are but mere beggars (Fuqara) living on borrowed time. We are weak; He is Strong.
With love and prayers,
The new single Al Faqir is now available to download and stream on all platforms.