Marcelina’s IL AWAL breaks all imaginable boundaries

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Recently gracing Sole DXB with a dark, dreamy performance, London and Dubai-based singer Marcelina just released IL AWAL, a deeply celestial and dreamy track. Playing with vocal distortion and ethereal aesthetics, IL AWAL is the first in a new era for Marcelina. Her first track sung fully in Arabic, we caught up with the amazingly talented and non-stop artist to learn all about the track, her experimental aspirations, and the visual and sonic magic upcoming.

By Ethan Dinçer

By Wiz Khalifeh

Hi love! So amazing to talk with you. Starting off, can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind IL AWAL?

I have been listening to a lot of electronic & experimental music over the past year. I keep finding myself really drawn to industrial and experimental/intense sounds you can dance to, but also, ethereal and melodic tracks that make you feel something in your heart and core. I felt inspired to make a track that embodied the inspiration from distorted sounds and decided to explore vocal distortion throughout the track. The lyrics reflect the sound of the track, it has a mix of love, light, anger, aggression, and bliss. It’s hot and cold and I feel like that represents the energy I felt while writing the lyrics. IL AWAL is bittersweet and all the things in between. I wouldn’t say there is an exact source of inspiration in terms of specific artists, as this track was purely experimental. When working on it in the studio, the sound started as something completely different. We kept playing around with lots of sounds and ended up going with what felt the most authentic at the moment.

The song is quite different, more rap-oriented, from your last piece, Dunya. What’s significant about this difference?

This track represents the beginning of a new era in my music that I want to share with the world. It’s the first track I release in this era of experimenting with unconventional sounds, creating a safe space for myself to create and express what’s inside of me with 0 limitations or restrictions to what I think my sound needs to be. I just want to explore all forms of music creation and genres that resonate with me the most now. This is why the title of the track not only connects to the message of the lyrics in the song but also translates to the Arabic meaning of “the first”.

By Wiz Khalifeh

Also compared with Dunya, IL AWAL is sung fully in Arabic. What’s behind this choice?

I have been feeling very connected to Arabic music for the past 2 years, so I wanted to put out a track completely written in Arabic in order to challenge myself, and push myself out of my comfort zone of writing all my music in English. Songwriting is one of my favorite parts of creating music, it always feels like such an authentic outlet and a voice to my experiences and observations within my life and the things happening around me. I love expressing my feelings in a way that I know people listening can relate to, and doing that in Arabic feels like a whole new playing field I just love exploring more and more.

You just performed at Sole DXB with Adidas Middle East. How was that?

There are no words to describe how much I enjoyed my performance at Sole DXB, it felt so incredible to share what I have been working on with such an incredible crowd of support and love. It felt like such an amazing experience working with the Abu Recordings and Adidas teams, both made me feel super welcome and comfortable.
I produced the first track from the set from scratch on my flight to Dubai the night prior and experimented with the vocal sounds for the first time at the Adidas performance, so it felt really memorable to share something so fresh with the audience. Performing with the vocal distortion machine live creates such a special experience and I feel like I get to give a unique performance of the tracks based on how I’m feeling at the moment.

What’s upcoming for Marcelina?

I am planning on releasing another single soon after releasing the video for IL AWAL. I started shooting the video clip for it back in July and am wrapping up the project soon. I am super excited to share it because I feel like the way it was shot portrays the energy in the song in such a sick way. I love all the styling and the creative direction of my new visual content for this project so much. I collaborated with Anastasia A, an amazing artist with whom I’ve collaborated on several projects now. She painted a live body art piece on my body for the IL AWAL video shoot and painted live on me at my performance at Reference Point in London for an event presented by The West Asian and North African Women’s Art Library last month, curated by Zainab Hasoon & Sara Bin Safwan.
I am also hoping to perform and be involved in as many events as possible this upcoming year. I will be creating more visual content after the new year and am planning on releasing a mini project during the early summer!!! Stay tuned <3