February 1, 2019

Chicago based musician and artist, Thoom, released her debut EP, “Blood and Sand” in 2017 on Oakland label Club Chai, distinguishing her as one of the scene’s most innovative new artists. Her use of rhythm, field recordings and vocals combine elements from a style of traditional Arabic musical composition with the serrated sonics of an industrial environment.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I’m Thoom, I make music and perform.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?

I am working on an album right now. I’m also working on some visual components for the album that we shot over the summer in Lebanon. There are a few projects I had to put away for a while that I am just now unearthing and I am excited to show them to everyone. Really, I’ve mostly been hiding in my room getting high and trying to teach myself as much as I can. 

Can you describe your process in making your debut EP Blood and Sand?

It was me learning how to use programs and experimenting with their limitations. I had no idea what I was doing, really.. (and still don’t) but there was a lot of personal turmoil and I had so much anger and frustration that needed to be channeled somehow. I was also trying to figure out what sounds made sense to me, if that makes sense. I had just gotten back to Chicago after being in Beirut for a while and was translating some of those experiences. 

How did your interest in music begin?

I was in Iowa hell going to college for nothing and transferred to Chicago where I was able to relate to the music scene. I also felt very alienated from it; this introduction of social hierarchies and cult-like group fantasies, where exclusion and intimidation is a dogma. There were a lot of different voices and music being made around me that encouraged me. I have always had an interest in music, and especially since moving to Iowa when I was young-it was the only way to escape my environment. 

How has living in Chicago affected your music?

I don’t know if I can separate what I’m doing from where I am. 

What are some of your biggest influences on your music?

My imagination of fictional spaces and environments. Sometimes imagining myself in another place is really inspiring. In terms of music, I have been listening to Nirvana non-stop this winter, especially their first album, Bleach. I’ve also been watching a lot of Pasolini’s films. 

What was the last show you went to that stuck out to you?

I performed with Drew Mcdowall and Hiro Kone last month and I really loved them. 

What do you do when you’re not working on music?

I’ve been writing a lot. Fiction stories and poetry. Me and my sister wrote and shot a film recently that is now being edited. I am in seclusion mode and spending a lot of alone time in my room. 

How do themes in your visual art relate to themes in your music?

Like I said earlier, a lot of times when I am working on music, I am imagining a sonic landscape, and it is very visual. I think you can really tell in songs like Spit, Swallow and sometimes they are both being produced as a conversation with each other. In the video of Spit, Swallow, I am walking around in Chicago at night, the walk becomes a performance because of my confrontation with the camera and it becomes more difficult as it goes along and as I continuously fall, I am fighting to stay in the camera’s viewpoint as it moves along, passive and indifferent by my falling.