Sassy Sisters Podcast with Cyd Eva and Special Guest Meryem Saci
Montreal based, Algerian singer and MC Meryem Saci, is inspiring a new wave of energy in her electronic music. Connecting nature, movement and self-expression through her diverse range of styles, Meryem is all about raising the vibrations, by pulling on influences from North African and Arabic rhythms and melodies. In this way, Meryem injects a spiritual pulse into the musical language she creates, fusing together her love of hip-hop, RnB, Soul, Jazz and Reggae.
Having launched her first solo album, 'On My Way' last year, Meryem has carved a space to liberate and rejuvenates her own unique identity as a musician. Best known for being part of the multi-lingual super group Nomadic Massive, Meryem Saci sits down with Cyd Eva to discuss the juxtaposition of her Algerian upbringing and how she uses music to connect with traditions and talented fellow creatives.
Meryem Saci's story started off in Algeria, North Africa before her family sought refuge in Canada. With this combination of cultural landscapes, Meryem explains how "I feel like both countries, the one that birthed and raised me, and the one that adopted me into my adulthood, have shaped me tremendously. When it comes to my art, I have this yearning to find the bridges between these cultures, from the West to the Afro Arabian side sounds." This motivation to fuse together her environments is what makes Meryem's music stand out. Never limiting herself to one particular sound, Meryem embodies an abundance of creative development, moving between rap, reggae beats, and high octave vocal melodies. Recognising how her upbringing in Algeria had an intense effect on her identity today, Meryem reflects on how "Canada really gave me the room to blossom and have the freedom to explore and discover more of who I am". The result is an enigmatic combination of movement, purposeful messages, and uplifting beats.
I have this yearning to find the bridges between these cultures, from the West to the Afro Arabian side sounds. I have this interest in connecting certain dots that may not have been connected before
As a little girl, Meryem was forever dreaming of becoming a singer, "I've always imagined myself on stages performing, I just didn't know how that would shape up. Especially growing up in Algeria in the middle of a war, it didn't look like it was something that was ever realistic, it was this untouchable dream." Refusing to be hindered by her circumstances, Meryem took every musical opportunity that came her way until she arrived in Montreal and started attending a school that focused on music, taking part in gospel choirs and musicals. As her English progressed, Meryem started writing her own songs, solidifying the seriousness with which she approached music, focusing on it becoming her career. "By the time I learned English and got to perform in different styles of music, I knew it really could be something I could pursue.. for it to be a part of my life, or my life, period." It was on joining the band Nomadic Massive that Meryem transitioned into a more professional avenue as an artist.
I've always imagined myself on stages performing, I just didn't know how that would shape up. Especially growing up in Algeria in the middle of a war, it didn't look like it was something that was ever realistic - it was this untouchable dream.
With many artists being pushed into boxes and defined by certain labels, it is clear that Meryem is moving through life in her own unbounded, authentic state. "I don't always find that I fit in boxes because they don't completely define what I believe in or my values". Digging deeper into Meryem's values, Cyd Eva asks her about feminism."It goes without saying that I stand firmly for the rights and freedoms of women in society and the protection of young girls... My reality has come from a place of extreme oppression when it comes to the brutal treatment of women. But when it comes to affiliating myself with an ism or a movement per se, I find myself sometimes not represented in it fully." This is the sad truth for many people with projects and movements appearing to be void of intersectionality. Instead, Meryem uses her songwriting and MCing to represent her own opinions, independently of other labels, and create music "with a message of love and unity because that's what I'm all about, always and forever. I am for freedom, individual sovereignty, and for unity. That has to come from treating life as sacred and seeing each other as sacred; if we don't do that, we're disconnected." This sense of wholeness is something that translates through Meryem's music videos as well, bringing together a community of people and performers to raise the positive vibrations of her message. Check them out the end of the article.
I am for freedom, individual sovereignty, and for unity. That has to come from treating life as sacred and seeing each other as sacred; if we don't do that, we're disconnected.
Putting collaboration at the forefront of her work, Meryem discusses how she'll often beatbox beats and ideas into her phone, and allow them to grow by working with fellow artists to establish the track. Her album 'On My Way' is filled with featured musicians and producers who brought her vision to life. Similarly, the visuals of her projects are all carefully considered decisions, working with people whose work she admires. Meryem's logo is of special significance, combining North African Berber symbols and Arabic caligraphy to spell her name out in the design. Meryem's joy of details and tradition comes from her love of artisanal, locally made unique pieces, familiar to her Algerian roots. This is something that comes through in her styling choices as well as her musical tonalities.
When discussing the way sassyness feeds into her life, Meryem explains how "My sensuality is more a state of being than something that I do or try to portray... When it comes to my project I have more intimate or sensual songs which come as an extension of my identity as a woman. As an RnB singer, that's always something that's very close to my heart; to make some babymaking music and create some timeless jams". Thinking on when the more sensual moods come out in her creativity, Meryem explains how she writes more sexy music when she's single and yearning "I'm mostly fantasising about what I want to feel, what I want to experience." Allowing the music to speak for itself, Meryem is conscious not to put this part of her character forward via her appearance or reputation. But instead, embodies a consideration towards how she wishes to be seen by the world, and those close to her.
Maybe we don't have the answers but it seems to me that the more we try and connect, the more we will find solutions to these problems as opposed to keeping on the divide and the illusion of separation
Meryem walks us out of the conversation by discussing her definition of success in the music industry. Today, Meryem is focusing on creating a much more aligned clarity around her music, rather than reaching for achievements such as YouTube fame or Grammy awards. For Meryem, her messages and experiences of connectivity have become the priority in her art. Through festivals, shows, and face-to-face experiences, Meryem explains"I want to find more opportunities to share those moments with the highest vibrations rather than the lowest vibrations of this game". Pushing the weight of societal judgment and competition out of the way is something that appears in Meryem's lyrics for tracks like "Eyes on Me". She explains how this song references the evil eye and protecting yourself from negative energies "keeping your eyes focused on you and your inner work so you can shield yourself...and not give up your power so easily". On this note, we can't help but admire Meryem's approach to life, work, and prosperity. Her journey is one that inspires us on every level, teaching us about the essence of life through her musical soundtrack, pulsating with spiritual, feminine energy.
Meryem Saci's Tracklist
All tracks by Meryem Saci
On My Way
Eyes On Me
This Too Shall Pass