“It’s important for me to stay true to my process so that the music I make is also true to me and who I am.” Yemeni-British artist Intibint, tells us.
The singer, songwriter and producer is making her mark in London’s local music scene, with five singles under her belt already and a debut EP entitled ‘What Are You Willing To Do’ coming this summer.
Following in the steps of strong norm-breaking female artists like Sevdaliza, Grimes and FKA Twigs, Intibint is now on a mission to empower Arab women in and outside of the industry.
Although her education includes a master’s degree in Migration and Development from SOAS University of London, the artist went on to break the family rules and pursue her true passion for music despite her parents’ disapproval. Her pseudonym is a nod to her mission.
‘Intibint’ literally translates to “you are a girl” in Arabic, which is often used to remind women that they’re not supposed to be strong and empowered like men. The artist uses it to shift the narrative for Arab women and their role in society, however. She has also founded online platform Al Yamaniah (which means ‘the Yemeni woman’ in Arabic) to highlight the work of Yemeni women in arts and culture.
In celebration of her latest release CONTROL, an alternative R&B single written by her and produced by Kuwaiti-Indian multi-media artist Zahed Sultan, which dropped on May 15, we caught up with Intibint for a quick chat:
Tell us about your latest song ‘CONTROL’, what prompted the songwriting process for it?
It’s about a relationship I had with someone who was so good to me, I couldn’t understand why something so beautiful needed to be hidden. But I knew I could never tell my parents as in my Yemeni culture having romantic relationships is strictly forbidden. I really did try to follow this rule a lot growing up in the UK (mostly London) as I have a good relationship with my parents especially my mother but eventually I couldn’t anymore and I let myself be in love.
How important is it for you to address that struggle with love and relationships as a Yemeni-British woman?
It’s really important for me because this issue is faced by so many women like me. I have had conversations with so many of my friends and followers about this and it’s an experience that can be very isolating and fester feelings of guilt and shame. It also encourages an environment of silencing which is something that is never good… I’ve heard stories of women who have stayed in toxic relationships because they end up being threatened by their boyfriend that if they leave he will expose their relationship. Stories like this are all too common, and can all be erased if we just accept that people fall in love with each other and that’s okay.
What can families do to prevent this struggle from happening for women?
It’s really important for families to see women as strong and independent as they see men. I think that once they are seen this way, families will be less likely to shelter their daughters and give them more room to explore, knowing that they can hold their own. Parents and families at large need to learn that their kids are not them.
There’s this really beautiful poem by Khalil Jibran which I would like to end on which sums up this idea beautifully:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
Do you find that Arab female musicians are underrepresented in the music industry?
Honestly, I think it’s absurd. The amount of female talent out there will tell you how much women deserve a seat at the table. Thankfully though, it’s something that’s slowly changing and in a way I feel proud to be part of that as a Yemeni-British artist with my background.
Is it something you have dealt with in your career?
The motto I live by is: hard work + opportunity = success. With that said though, I do think men in the music industry need to step up and support their female counterparts. By that I mean give us space, give us your time, give us your energy… At the end of the day men have enough privilege so if they use it correctly we will be able to change things much faster.
Tell us a bit about your creative process.
I often find myself running to my computer at the most random times to lay down some verses and a beat. I’m the type of artist who will sing what they feel in that moment, so with my upcoming tracks I’m just taking it easy and letting myself create whenever I feel I need to.