Sheherazaad is an American performer-composer, whose contemporary folk-pop synthesis joins the new wave of South Asian diasporic soundscapes.
Native to the San Francisco Bay Area and brought up second-generation in an immigrant household, Sheherazaad gleans from Western classical and South Asian sonic lineages. Her contemporary voicing, though inherently genre-defiant, may be described as alternative folk or experimental ballad. Sheherazaad’s original lyricism modernises certain existing Hindi-Urdu poetic forms, channelling questions of displacement, mother tongue, imagined homelands, and beyond. Currently, she allows the experience of shifting between India and Brooklyn, NYC to shape her eccentric and hyphenated musical aesthetic.
Sheherazaad’s namesake is the revolutionary figure from the largely Middle Eastern and South Asian epic collection of folktales The One Thousand and One Nights, more commonly spelled Scheherazade. This major character’s storytelling prowess brings an end to the mindless genocide of women.
Expanding further, Sheherazaad says: “she has been a favourite and beloved character of mine since childhood for her ferocious storytelling ability that saves lives. Also, in Hindi and Urdu, Sheherazaad translates to ‘Free City’. I love the idea of a person, especially a woman, being a kind of ‘city’ entity in and of themselves. In the South Asian context, this idea of ‘sheher’ (city) is more visceral with metropolises historically being centres for innovation, forward-thinking, and more social mobility for women specifically.”
Introducing her alluring debut single for Erased Tapes, Mashoor speaks to the glamour as well as the dis-ease surrounding the experience of Fame. The song is also a larger commentary on the values we are fostering as a world society, where particular people, institutions, or countries are celebrated, despite being inherently narcissistic and perverted.
The video for Mashoor was filmed throughout New York City during extreme temperatures. It seeks to visually evoke the dissonance of worlds colliding – brown limbs and gaze projected onto a steely urban labyrinth, and it attempts to forge a kind of fantastical nostalgia around the South Asian immigrant story within America’s historical fabric.
Mashoor was recorded at The Glass Wall in Brooklyn, produced by Arooj Aftab, mixed by J. Valleau, and mastered by Heba Kadry. It features performances by Ria Modak on classical guitar, Gilbert Mansour on percussion, and additional vocal mixing by Runar Blesvik.