A key voice in modern electronic music reflects on the experiences that shaped her thought-provoking sound.
Like other kids, Fatima Al Qadiri grew up with an appetite for video games, movies and cartoons. But it was the ominous theme music and characterisation of the villains that piqued the Kuwait-raised artist's interest. Off the screen, a very real conflict devastated her hometown as the Gulf War began in 1990—after the war ended and her family drove out of Kuwait, she remembers looking out the car window at oil rigs burning in the distance. Afterwards, the world of popular culture would never look quite the same. Playing Desert Strike, a video game based on Operation Desert Storm, saw reality and fantasy intertwine in disturbing ways, leaving a lasting impression that would shape her life as an artist.
Her music ultimately became a way of working through such complex themes. The Desert Strike EP was born from the experience of playing the game with her sister, contrasting childlike effects with the chaotic sounds of war. Her debut LP Asiatisch critiqued Western depictions of Asian culture in TV and film, while Brute used news footage and police scanner recordings to interrogate the inequalities of capitalism itself. Shaneera is the latest iteration of her ideas, and as Emma Robertson heard in this conversation, it's one of Al Qadiri's most personal records to date.
Fatima Al Qadiri is playing on RA's SonarLab stage at this year's Sónar Festival in Barcelona.