“It can be colours, smells, noises, or memories that I try to translate in my music,” Emna Saadi says. The Tunisian singer’s music is a sonar celebration of memories and everyday moments spent in her home country.
“I can find inspiration in a phone sound-glitch or in the scream of a seagull, in everyday life noises or the sounds dishes make,” she explains.
Saadi grew up in the south of Tunisia listening to Arab and international classics like Lotfi Bouchenak and Warda as well as Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald. Rai music by Cheb Hasni and Cheb Khaled were constantly played too. If there’s a word to describe her music taste and inspirations, it’s eclectic.
And it’s all reflected in the music she makes today. Mixing oriental tunes inspired from traditional Tunisian music with upbeat electronic sounds, her songs are never slow on tempo. Her powerful voice and Tunisian lyrics add up to an entirely bold vibe.
“Classical music is a real source of inspiration in my work and everyday life. I also love jazz, alternative and electronic music. I’ve always been surrounded by oriental music too, so I draw inspiration from all those musical universes,” she says.
But her craft goes beyond music in itself. A few seconds into any of her music videos, you’ll notice the strong visual references to her Tunisian and North African heritage. Saadi makes sure traditional elements from Arabic calligraphy to Bedouin embroideries and Tunisian old-age jewellery, usually worn in traditional wedding ceremonies are always present.
Her second track ‘Ach Eli Sar’—which was released a mere 12 days ago—now counts almost 400,000 views on YouTube. The song is a reflection on the artist’s life and an internal questioning on issues of loneliness and emotional struggle.
“It’s a kind of dialogue between me and myself,” she explains. “As I started focusing on my work and my music, I felt more and more lonely. Creating music takes a lot of time and it requires full commitment.”
With an EP coming next May, Saadi is hoping to go on tour once the pandemic restrictions are over.