The Sage Gateshead Interviews: Yazz Ahmed
Ahead of Gateshead Jazz 2020 we caught up with Yazz Ahmed, a British-Bahraini trumpet player and composer who seeks to blur the lines between jazz, electronic sound design, bringing together the sounds of her mixed heritage. Her music has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling’.
Yazz’s highly anticipated third album, Polyhymnia, was released in October on Ropeadope Records and this will be a rare occasion to experience it performed live in its entirety, by a 12-piece ensemble, featuring musicians from her Hafla band, players from the album and friends.
What was the first record you bought?
Life After Death by Notorious BIG.
Where in the world would you like to play that you have not already?
I’ve played in Japan with These New Puritans before, but I would so love to go back with my own band and tour the country.
Who was the first band/artist you ever saw perform live?
I can’t remember but I do have memories of going to a reggae festival with my mum and dad in London when I was around seven. It was summer, we sat on a blanket with a picnic, listened and danced to the music.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Thinking externally, world peace! Internally, warming my skin under the sun, on a beach, on a tropical island. Watching the waves of the clear, blue sea. Paddling around, feeling the water cool my legs, and nobody around…. bliss.
Who are your favourite writers?
George Orwell, David Mitchell (the author!), and Terry Pratchett.
Who are your favourite painters?
Picasso, Kandinsky, Salvador Dali.
If you could collaborate with any other artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
Björk, Flying Lotus and Jan Bang.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Ahwar by Nadah El Shazly.
Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?
Best advice you can give to emerging talent?
Practise hard, listen to lots of different music, never be late and always bring a pencil!
Yazz Ahmed plays Sage Gateshead as part of Gateshead Jazz.
Tickets are available here.