As previously stated, PinBoard got the chance to sit down with the lovely and talented Muhsinah for an exclusive interview. We really can’t tell you enough how talented this lady is, holding the titles of singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, composer and more (the list could go on, it really could). She has managed to produced a sound like no other and one of our favourite albums last year The Oscillations: Sine.
We caught up with her just before her exclusive friends and family listening party, [shouts and thanks to the whole Arale family] where we were lucky enough to hear several tracks from her forthcoming LP, The Oscillations: Triangle [which are all INCREDIBLE by the way trust us!] but sadly won’t be released for a while.
Whether you’re already a fan, or are only getting to know her now, we advise you sit back and enjoy the following interview. Get to know Muhsinah and what she’s all about. We also recommend you catch her live on her only London date at the ARALE 01 launch party Sunday 18th in Islington.
PinBoard: For those that don’t know, tell us, who is Muhsinah?
Muhsinah: Me? Well I am a musician, a composer, a pianist, a singer, a songwriter, an arranger, a makeshift recording engineer, a creative person and a nice girl. (laughs)
PinBoard: Where did the musical infatuation begin?
Muhsinah: It really started with my mum way back when I was growing up. When she would vacuum the living room she’s always have records on, so I think it had an influence on me then. But as far as having as formal training, I started taking piano lessons when I was 11 and didn’t stop til I was 22. So I’m very thoroughly trained in the classical art of the piano playing, which I used and converted into some mutt of whatever music I make now, but that’s where i started falling in love with music.
PinBoard: What are you listening to the moment?
Muhsinah: I’m really into New-Wave, Punk, really into classical music, and maybe old soul music and really into soundtrack. My favourite is probably most Westerns, like Spaghetti Westerns, like those Italian Westerns all written by the same person. But I like ‘em all…
PinBoard: Why did you decide to go down the musical route?
Muhsinah: Mostly because most people can relate to some kind of music, whether it be a different genre, slow or fast you, dark or mellow whatever. You can have something in common with someone else, and people always talk about music, whether they have a deep knowledge of what they’re into or not.
Muhsinah – “Construction”
PinBoard: You were just on tour with Common, what was that like how did you guys hook up? [Muhsinah also featured on track “Changes” on Common’s latest LP Universal Mind Control]
Muhsinah: With Common his A&R found me, he was like we want to bring to Common’s concert so you can at least meet him. Then I met him and he was like “Oh you’re dope, we really need to work together” and I always take that with a pinch of salt, it’s like you never know what people mean, that could’ve meant nothing he could get with his life and never get in touch. But the fact that he called me up like the next few weeks, meant so much, he was like “We wanna do a song with Alicia Keys and we want you to write it” I did it, but it didn’t make it, but the fact they called me up to consider me writing a song was amazing. Then a few months after they had another song for his album and they wanted to ring me into the studio in New York and when I got there they were so impressed by the way I record, I’ve had a lot of practice at it (laughs) Then they were like “So you wanna come the road with us”, so right after that I became part of Common’s band and have been in his band ever since late July last year.
PinBoard: You featured on three tracks on the Foreign Exchange LP last year Leave It All Behind, how you get together with them?
Muhsinah: Well Phonte from Little Brother called me up out of the blue on day and I had no idea. He called up and was like “Hey it’s Phonte” and I thought it was my little brother playing around with me so I was like “Yo stop playing” but he was like “No seriously its Phonte” (laughs) he went on and was like “I really want to put you on the next Foreign Exchange project.” This was before they even thought about doing another project but he was like “At least we know we can have you on it” So when they started recording he was like we gonna fly you to North Carolina I got there and we did three songs together.
PinBoard: How would you describe your sound?
Muhsinah: I use unconventional melodies, and I love to use live elements and body sounds like claps, ooh and arrs [laughs] My arrangements are unconventional heavy strings, rocking drums. But I also think my name is a big influence on how I’ve taken my life and made it into something. Like I’m supposed to contribute something, my music is a reflection of me and how I am as a person. Moody, happy, excited all the time, really nerdy but cool sometimes. My mood changes and I change too, and I think everyone’s music is a direct reflection of who they are and everyone’s music is going to because we are all different.
PinBoard: What can we expect on your next LP Triangle?
Muhsinah: Since Sine, I’ve discovered a bigger piece of myself, I’ve realised that we all have a story to tell and we all have to tell our story before time is up. I think this moving on period I’m experiencing is really important and I’m really thankful that I’ve lived long enough to tell my story. As for the music I’m not really using samples any more, it’s not really hip-hop sounding anymore its more of a rock based project but you know I’ve never been one to categorise myself in any genre anyway so its just the next level for me and I hope you all like it.
Muhsinah’s The Oscillations: Sine, is out now and couldn’t come any more recommend and again, London, you got the chance to see what she does live tomorrow night at the Lexington (Islington) for ARALE 01 launch party (more info).
…Oh and if you thought all that was great, we’ll have some more exclusive content from Muhsinah right here in the next couple days!
Peace, Love & Muhsinah