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Kiss Facility Is the Emirati Artist Injecting Raw Human Emotion Into Music

Tune in for a tasteful listening experience

“It’s my escape when it gets hard, and it’s the friend that’s always there when I am lonely,” Mayah Alkhateri tells MILLE over a series of emails about her intimate relationship with music. The Emirati-Egyptian artist is one half of indie band Kiss Facility, alongside Salvador Navarrette, who is responsible for the production. The duo, who teased their first single In My Room last month, followed by Black Stone, which embraces the Egyptian tradition of safeguarding loved ones from the evil eye and black magic in various ways last week, are set to unveil their first ever EP— a beautiful, textured, and otherworldly debut featuring friends and collaborators like POiSON GiRLFRiEND— in fall. 

Together, the creatives have conjured up a sound that will transport you to a beautifully eerie place, making you feel like you are floating at some point. The music itself has rough edges, be it through the hard-wired yet raw guitar riffs or soft drums thumping in the background, and Alkhateri’s voice binds it all together, softening the roughness of it all. The Arabic equivalent of Yves Tumour, it’s ethereal. As you listen, you may find yourself shed an unnoticeable tear, but you’re still smiling through it all. The music is raw, and it is clear that Kiss Facility has injected genuine human experience into their sound.  

Speaking about how music first set sail into her life, AlKhateri tells MILLE, “It came through Anasheed and old classical Egyptian music.” The UAE born and bred artist, who is now based in Paris, reveals that she grew up listening to music with her mother, who introduced her to artists like Mishari Alafasy, Umm Kulthoum, and Abdel Halim Hafez. Meanwhile, Arabic music channels like Njoum Alkhaleej, Mazzika, and Melody further shaped her sound. “They pretty much enriched me with various melodies and sounds and subconsciously educated my ears with the rhythm,” she recalls. 

As she grew older, English artists like Genesis P-Orridge further impacted her outlook on music, and she credits them for “the mental experience of critical thinking and the impact of general disbelief in the creations of the most hopeful sounds and music for the people who do not have a support system or believe in themselves because they’re somewhat different than what everyone should be.”

Photography: Thibault Théodore Makeup Artist: Mantis Lepretre

With her punk aesthetic, bold tattoos, and daring style choices, AlKhateri is not the first person that would come to mind when you think about the “average” Emirati woman, and when it comes to navigating her way around conservative ways of thought that are deeply embedded in our culture, she has had to self-construct and tailor her principles to align with her personal values and the path she envisions for herself. “Until this day I am trying to break the generational curses of the conservative strict and limited beliefs in our culture to open up paths, abilities, and opportunities,” the 27-year-old shares.

With an unequivocally distinctive look and sound, Kiss Facility is offering something real, something that seems to be missing nowadays. The artists are handing the world their identity, with an attitude that says, take it or leave it.

After putting your headphones on and pressing play on a Kiss Facility song, AlKhateri wants you to leave the listening experience with the feeling of a “good sleep after crying your eyes out” mixed with “hope and love.” We can confirm that Kiss Facility has nailed just that bittersweet sentiment. 

Kiss Facility seems to be exactly what the music scene in the Middle East needs right now. Something with a burgeoning sense of individuality, that is raw and genuine, and above all else evokes meaning. When asked where she sees Kiss Facility in the next few years, she simply says: “It will take me where I need to be.” 

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