For The Record: Imaad Wasif

Imaad Wasif “The Priestess”

Sticking with the dark, moody rock theme this week, meet my latest obsession – Imaad Wasif.  No stranger to the indie music scene, the Canadian born, Indian singer-songwriter and guitarist has been in numerous bands including lowercase, The New Folk Implosion and alaska!, but is probably best known as the touring guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. His latest solo LP, The Voidist, has me completely entranced and intrigued. I had the good fortune to catch up with him to learn more about the album and the inspiration behind it.  Truly amazing…enjoy!

Be sure to catch Imaad tomorrow, January 19, at Bottom of the Hill and/or February 27 at The Independent for the NoisePop Festival.

The OCMD: I’m really enjoying your new album, ‘The Voidist’. What’s the inspiration behind it? What does that title mean to you?

The more uncommon the highest truths are, the more inhuman must they be and the less they speak to you as something valuable and meaningful concerning human essence and being. The voidist does not speak against me but for me, and proves how universally human I am and how much I too not only need redemption but also deserve it.

The OCMD: Your music evokes a lot of musical references for me – from the freaky sexiness of a Devendra Banhart, to the tender lyricism of a Jeff Buckley and the monstrous guitar riffs of a Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. Am I missing any musical influences here?

Karen Dalton, Nico, Marianne Faithfull, Moe Tucker, Lulu Jackson, Brigitte Fontaine, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Cotton, Geeshie Wylie, Nina Simone, Yoko Ono, Mariska Veres

The OCMD:  With references to sorcery, rapture, karma, celestial beings, worship and sacrifice the album definitely comes across as very spiritual and mystical. With whom or what or who were you grappling with when you wrote these songs?

My spirit reflected on everything rare and uncommon, it pried its way into unfound possibilities, towards paths that lead into the hidden, towards lights that shine in the night. And as my spirit did this, everything ordinary in me suffered harm without my noticing it, and it began to hanker after life, since I did not live it. I was smitten by the romantic. The romantic is a step backward. To reach the way one must sometimes also take a step backward. Mine is a spirit of torment. It tears asunder my contemplation, and it would dismantle everything and rip it apart. I am still a victim of my thinking. I should rise above my thoughts to my own self.  My journey goes there, and that is why it leads away from people and events into solitude. Is it solitude to be with oneself? Solitude is true only when the self is a desert. Should I make a garden out of the desert?

The OCMD: In the song “Priestess”, I love the verse “Learn how to accept how far we are from perfect/Slowly undress The Priestess.” What is The Priestess a metaphor for?

The oracular woman. If you take a piece of joy from the devil you accept your pleasure. But pleasure immediately attracts everything you desire, and then you must decide on whether your pleasure spoils or enhances you. If you are from the devil, you will grope in blind desire after the manifold, and it will lead you astray. But if you remain with yourself, as a man who is himself and not of the devil, then you will remember your humanity. You will not behave toward women per se as a man, but as a human being, that is to say, as if you were the same sex as her. By giving in to your apish appetite, you infect others, because the ape stimulates the apish. So you turn yourself and others into apes.

The OCMD: What comes first for you, the lyrics or the melody?

Neither, the mystery.

The OCMD: I could be wrong here, but your album leaves me with a feeling of reverence (and maybe a little fear) toward women.  Do we intimidate you?

Man should not seek the feminine in woman, but seek and recognize it in himself, as he possesses it from the beginning. One can hardly say of the soul what sex it is.

The OCMD: I have a serious girl crush on Karen O. You’ve toured with her in the past as the guitarist for the YYYs and most recently worked with her on the “Where The Wild Things Are” soundtrack. Is she as cool in real life as she is in my head?


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