In today’s image-conscious society, identity is everything. Instagram tells us our faces are our fortune while we live our lives on social media. And, as Oscar Wilde once said, to ‘be yourself as everyone else is already taken.’
But on the flip side, hiding your physical identity is a powerful force in the art world - it makes the listener focus on the art, the message, the music.
Saudi Arabia duo fulana have used that principle to brilliant effect. Living in a country where visual appearance can mark you out as being radically different, they instead focus on creating a visual identity that can be relatable to anyone, as they could be just about anyone.
Intentionally, they rely on obscured photos and reclusive interviews; letting their music do the real talking.
And it’s a conversation that’s increasingly getting attention, as the Jeddah duo brilliantly merge alternative indie-pop with brooding disco to create a stunningly original sound.
fulana has been writing since 2010, inspired by a wide array of musicians including Metric, Bob Moses, BANKS, SHURA, and even Lady Gaga. Drawing inspiration from past civilizations and everyday life, fulana’s lyrics are rich in emotion, covering loss, vulnerability, heartache and the occasional skip of heartbeat.
The combination of influence and motive is crystal clear in ‘Minarets,’ a shimmering tune that escalates and grows into something special, as waves of shoegaze guitar crash into simmering beats.
The music might be a world away from the traditional Saudi Arabian music scene, but the lyrics are subject matter on their latest single get right to the heart of the matter. ‘Minarets’ tells a story of struggle and salvation, the rise and the fall of faith and hope.
And the music mirrors those sentiments, with driving, soaring and almost ethereal melodies pulsing and flowing.
With labels like Wall of Sound championing fellow Saudi artists like Skeleton Crowd and mainstream music festival MDLBeast getting international attention, it’s time for fulana to take their moment in the musical revolution.