For people discovering you for the first time, how would you describe your music? What song of yours should they start with?
I would describe my music as very cinematic, heavy in storytelling, and there is always a sensation of emotion with a very meaningful and intentional approach. It’s hard to choose only one record for the audience to start with, but if I were to choose one, I’d say start with “LifeThatIveBeenLivin.”
You are Palestinian American and a Boston native. How do your heritage and where you live influence your music?
Subconsciously speaking, my environment has always influenced me in one way or another. Being in an Arab household living in Malden, Massachusetts, for the beginning years of my life, what I absorbed was always from what my parents/uncles/aunts were listening to, which was mostly Arabic music. When I moved overseas and lived in Jordan for five years of my life and attended a private English school, I was at the age of having CD players, and I remember my older sister and I were getting put on to music through our friends, radio, etc. I’ve always been a lover of music, as it was a soundtrack for specific memories, so subconsciously, the sounds, melodies, drums, spaces, and places I’ve been in have definitely developed my taste. As for lyricism, it’s through life experiences—where I come from, who I am, and what means most to me to tell my story and what I represent.
You released your latest single “Gazing” earlier this year. How does this single set up your next chapter as an artist, and what can fans expect next?
“Gazing” tells the story of cherishing moments when reflecting on our past, rising above the chaos, and the inspiring moments when realizing that God had steered you in the right direction all along. I made this record in a very vulnerable space as well as co-producing it, and it felt like the beginning of something new—new knowledge, new lessons, and a wider lens on life. The chapter continues into my next record “Expansion,” which will be released on Friday, April 21. In this record, I’m taking control of my own narrative as I continue to showcase my versatility throughout every release.
The storytelling in the new record “Expansion” speaks on being who I am without being boxed in. My story transcends beyond labels and ceilings that are often cast on to me, especially as I’m still new to this. I also co-produced this track, allowing the production to flourish and quite literally expand throughout the record. … Instruments, flows, and sonics become more raw and powerful with expression, shining light on the things that are often set aside or blurred to the masses. As the creative director of my world, I wanted to visually translate the music into an art piece that captures the essence of where I’m going.
You have a big hand in the creative visuals for all of your songs. Can you tell us about your creative process? Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?
I’m a very visual person. I see feelings, so when it comes to expressing my emotions in a form of song, sound, and rhythm, I begin to drift off into my imagination of what it looks like visually. That’s my favorite part of the process because it’s like I begin to dabble in the paint and brush, turning it into a work of art. Every record has a story. Everything is done with intention. I put my all into everything because it’s a part of what makes me who I am, so ensuring that it translates well to how I see it is very important. I usually begin with research. By that, I mean exploring movies, stills, shoots that have heavily impacted or moved me. I collect screenshots and place them in a folder and begin to build off them with my imagination in ways that relate most to me and my story. Once I see it in my head, I don’t stop till it’s done. That’s when I know I’m guided for the execution of the project.
How does fashion play a role in who you are as an artist?
How I dress myself is like second nature to me because it’s always about what I want to feel, how I want to express myself without needing to say anything. I love layering and being comfortable, so wherever I am, I can move with ease without feeling limited in my attire. Mixing colors and textures is the most fun thing in the world. Playing dress-up and using yourself as the model will always translate to greatness because it’s in you, not on you. You make the outfit pop—the outfit doesn’t make you.
What would you say is a Neemz style signature?
My style has definitely evolved and will always continue to grow, but something that’s always stuck with me is mixing textures, layering colors, and unique hats. I love a great hat. It holds my hijab together, and because it does that, it feels like a shield. Silver jewelry and funky glasses are also a thing!
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to performing at my first Boston festival at Boston Calling on May 27, 2023. I’m also looking forward to sharing the projects I’ve been working on, the creative direction that’s involved, and the versatility in my music.