New 2U Queer MusiQ Revue
The Gift of Mom: el Hashem and Count Klassy Team Up for New Song Honouring Mothers
With the world still finding its way through a global pandemic and tensions increasing in multiple areas, there’s never been a better time for some positive energy to come our way. That’s just what Canadian music artists el Hashem and Count Klassy hope to do, except their positivity is coming in the form of musical celebration, and their honourees are moms. The artists wanted a way to celebrate the special women in their lives so they collaborated on a new song and music video.
The title of the song is “I Miss You Mom / Emi Ana Meshtaalek” performed in both English and el Hashem’s native Arabic. With the song in motion they quickly turned to establishing the video concept. And then they asked the world to get involved. Videos and photos from fans and online followers have been sent to the artists to be included in the video celebration extending the project far beyond the artists initial premise and making it a true community celebration.
With such a thoughtful and purposeful project headed our way, we sat down with the artists to talk about the collaboration and their work together.
Hey guys, so to jump in, is this your first time collaborating on a song together and how did this collaboration get started?
el Hashem: It is our first time collaborating. I interviewed Count Klassy for a talk show that I film in my day job, and I liked his energy, and what he was trying to do with pushing queer hip-hop and rap. I posted to friends on Facebook that I wrote a song celebrating moms, and he commented that he would be into collaborating. The funny thing is I was thinking that I wanted to add something to the song, a rap perhaps, so when he commented I was like YES this is what I wanted. You can ask him why he came on board, and if he regrets it yet lol
Count Klassy: Yes! This is my first time collaborating with a non-rapper too! I wanted to diversify my sound and when I saw the perfect opportunity to collaborate, I jumped on it! It’s amazing that after an initial one off interview with el Hashem, we could be working together, as queer musicians, creating art for the world.
What was the primary reason for wanting to do a tribute song?
el Hashem: It was Mother’s Day, we just came out of tough lockdown in Ontario, and we decided my sister, my parents, and myself, that since we have been really good, and staying in the “bubble”, that we would have a get together in the backyard, with social distancing. During lunch I kept looking at mom while she was eating, and thinking that one of the hardest things with covid for me was not seeing her weekly the way I usually do, and more so not being able to hug her for a whole year. I wrote the song by the time I made it home, it just poured all out into my notes on my phone. This is my first foray into song writing (I have since wrote some more), and I wanted to challenge myself into writing a hybrid English/Arabic song. I Miss You Mom / Emi Ana Meshtaalek (Arabic for I Miss You Mom) has a very international feel to it, Count Klassy added some Serbian lyrics, so that was very cool.
Count Klassy: The idea was already there by el Hashem, but I joined the project because what better way to honour our mothers, then creating a piece of art for her? Surprisingly, English was my second language, and I originally spoke Serbian fluently with my mother. I honour that by introducing Serbian lyrics for the first time in my career on the track.
How would you describe the overall tone of the song?
el Hashem: I actually started the song in a sad tone, as you can imagine how I was feeling when I wrote it. But as the song developed, as lockdowns lifted up, and I started seeing mom more often, the vibe got more celebratory and happier. Then we got lucky by getting on board billboard charting NYC producer Sisco Kennedy. He right away said this song can be hugely different and exciting, and he wanted to be part of it. He wrote a really cool, Middle Eastern, current, with a western feel, and international beat. I am in love with what he did. So the song got even more celebratory and even happier by that point. And here we are. Mom LOVES it, and LOVES that I wrote a song about her lol, so there is that.
Count Klassy: It’s a moment to experience, and it transcends different styles of sounds and brings the listener in a musical journey around the world. It has an international flair, yet still sounds familiar. It will make you want to bop to the infectious beat, while reminiscing of your own relationship with your mother. It’s definitely something to hear and something to experience as I do feel different parts of the song will appeal to a diverse group of listeners!
When it came to creating the song, who was responsible for what?
el Hashem: I wrote the lyrics, and Count Klassy wrote the rap part, which is so unique to this style of song, and Sisco wrote the beat. But we all had been working so close together, that I am sure we all influenced each others’ parts. We also have legendary DJ and label owner Larry Peace and talented up and comer DJ Pluto on the team, doing some very exciting remixes. So it’s been just really an incredible collaboration, with so much creative vibes flying around. Honestly been one of the most exciting things to work with musically passionate people.
Count Klassy: We have a creative team working on different parts. El Hashem on the main lyrics and chorus, and I come in with a rap that is very distinct in its style especially on this type of beat. Sisco Kennedy, the producer of the song worked tirelessly on the beat itself, integrating Arabic sounds, 808s, and a catchy melody.
The subject matter is a personal one. How were you both influenced by your own mothers growing up?
el Hashem: It is a very personal one isn’t it. Actually there was times in the development of the song that I wondered if I will get too emotional if I release this song, as it is very personal, and if I should just not do it. Mom is my best friend. Growing up she was my protector (I am the eldest and for some reason she always felt protective of me lol), my champion, and my friend. That friendship actually grew closer as I got older, and over the last couple of decades we have spent crazy amount of time together. I like seeing her happy, so I frequently take her out for fun times, more so than my other siblings and my dad, bless them, they’re just busy, so I am mom’s entertainment (she thinking I’m funny lol)
Count Klassy: Through my matrilineal lineage, my ancestors were royal status under Imperial Russia. It’s where I get my name from. My mother is my number 1 supporter and has instilled in me, everything I know about compassion. I largely owe my creative process to my mother too as I definitely inherited my artistic elements from her.
Being a combination of both English and Arabic language, what are the unique challenges and opportunities that come with a bilingual creation?
el Hashem: I don’t know if it was challenge for me. I mean it all flowed nicely when I wrote it, and the lyrics seemed to seamlessly flow between Arabic and English. It is very different, and I think that is something people will enjoy. Songs are not bound by language. The opportunity is to show that culture can cross oceans and mix and mingle together, it is something I am very passionate about, and part of the work I want to do in songs.
Count Klassy: As your listening to the song, the shifts in languages become less apparent, as your heart is already embodied by the emotions in the song. However, and mainly speaking on the lyrics in my rap, while it sounds pretty and rhymes, when translated a lot of the endearment gets lost in translation. That’s definitely a unique challenge. As well, delivering cadence and flow changes in the languages you are speaking or singing it in. Sometimes tones are important too to emphasize the meaning that is different than it would be in English. It’s definitely been a fun musical journey.
How were you able to combine your styles to create something new but still have it represent who you are as an artist?
el Hashem: The song does showcase our individual styles, but it wasn’t challenging at all to do that. I never thought about this, but now that you bring it up, maybe it was because we both came to the table with a lot of respect for each other’s style and knowing that we can create something special by combining them.
Count Klassy: I knew his style and he knew mine. We both acknowledged that it would be a unique opportunity to see how our sounds mesh together, and we are happy with the result. As a feature artist, you get your moment to shine and bring your brand, style, and sound to the track. It’s fun, and helps you open up your creative process too.
There is also a special video coming with the song. Tell us about that.
el Hashem: The music video is a HUGE part of the project. Right away I knew we had to film a music video. Originally I probably thought something somber and emotional about missing moms. But as the song and tone and vibe developed as we mentioned about, so did the video. It is now going to represent a celebration of motherhood and mothers. It still has a hint of the original story of my missing mom, but it got dancing, it got dancing mothers (all what we will say lol), and will feature pictures of moms from all over the world. We put a call out for everyone who would like to celebrate their moms by submitting a picture to be include in the video, and also if they are a mom we would like to celebrate them as well by including them. The music video will be directed by community award winning director Davina Hader. We are filming soon. But if anyone reading this would like to include a mom picture they can still contact us to be in it via the song Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/momsong
Count Klassy: All I will say is it’s going to be a fun, unique tribute to motherhood. Keep an eye out for music video!
Did you receive a large number of pictures and were there any surprising ones?
el Hashem: We keep receiving more every week, but we would still be happy to receive even more, so get in touch everyone. Nothing really surprising, but lots are heartwarming, people submitting have been including mom love message, and we LOVE reading those.
Count Klassy: We are still receiving photos of people who want to honour their moms! It’s such a beautiful experience being a part of it all! I can’t wait to see how it will all come together.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of this project? Additionally what has been the most exciting part?
el Hashem: Funny enough I don’t think anything felt really challenging. Actually for some reason, as if because of the loving vibration of the song and the mom topic, we experienced nothing but good synergy. The most exciting part, other than making my mom happy lol, and working with these awesome folks I am doing this with, is that we recorded the song in one of the coolest and most sought after studios in Toronto (Madonna, Drake, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, and more record there), and the whole experience was magic for a newbie like myself lol
Count Klassy: I think the most challenging is working within timelines and keeping the vision grounded. A lot of times when working with multiple people, sometimes the artistic vision changes. I think we did a good job staying true to the original vision of el Hashem honouring his mom, as well as all moms around the world.
el Hashem – Sah’man Ramana
Count Klassy – Dreams
Do you think listeners will find the song surprising?
el Hashem: Yes I am sure they will be surprised, it’s a very unique song. They will get up and dance, they will get lots of feels, it’s a whole col experience all together. That’s the reaction we are getting from the few who heard it.
Count Klassy: Absolutely. I think because of the unique nature of the song, it will take a few listens because the sound is so new and diverse. But once you let that earworm in, it becomes infectious.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this project?
el Hashem: Just a lot of love vibes for moms. They are very special, let’s celebrate them.
Count Klassy: Love your moms and celebrate motherhood while transcending cultural and generational boundaries.
What does the release plan look like for the “I Miss You Mom / Emi Ana Meshtaalek” project? When should we expect to see each piece?
el Hashem: We announced October 1st for the single, then the dance mixes will be a couple or so weeks after, followed by the music video a few weeks after that. We’re still laying out release ideas and promotional initiatives to consider.
Count Klassy: The song should be released in October 2021, with a line up of dance mixes and a music video being released shortly after. The song is timeless, so I know there will be a lot of rereleases, remixes, or even covers!
Do you have ideas or plans for other future collaborations?
el Hashem: I have a lot coming up before I think about what’s after that lol, but the experience so far has been incredible, so if something exciting comes up, I know I would be up for it. Count Klassy actually before all this started mentioned once that he would love to have me guest on a future album. WINK WINK Count Klassy lol
Count Klassy: I know we will be working on future projects, and I am excited to see what the future brings! I’m not really one to plan, I just do and go with whatever feels right in the moment. If the winds of musicality brings us together on another song, I will of course be open!
What do each of you have coming up in your own solo work?
el Hashem: Starting in the new year, I will be releasing my big project, the reason I entered music to do, and that will be Zakerat / Memories, a 4 part Eps, featuring a journey through time and memories with Arabic and English cover songs from the last few decades and some originals, all mingling together, to create a cultural experience, and to bring back memories of the songs that shape our lives. I know that many songs that influenced me over my life or have fond memories, I probably share these feelings with many people around the world, and that’s what I wanted to create. So I am very excited.
Count Klassy: I’m on the cusp of releasing my music video for my song “Dreams” with Sisco Kennedy and I am in the studio working on new music for my next album. I just finished collaborating with Amira Wang of Kansas City, USA for our unreleased track called ‘On The Lam’. It’s a vibe for sure. Other than my own art, I am still ghostwriting for talent in Los Angeles and I plan on actually being back there working with a few of them in studio.
I Miss You Mom / Emi Ana Meshtaalek will be released on October 1, 2021 on all platforms
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