Like a brick through a window, Deena Abdelwahed’s music does not comfort—she has created a sound that captures the frustration and violence embedded in the modern world, while also presenting new sonic possibilities for transformative change. With an assaultive combination of deconstructed techno fused with traditional Arab structures, the undulating vocal harmonies surging through her productions illustrate the fault lines in society where bureaucracy begets brutality, while also providing a defiant vision of another way forward.
Raised in the capital of Qatar, a Fine Arts degree brought Abdelwahed to Tunis, where she split her time as a vocalist in a jazz band while also being the first DJ to bring Jersey club edits to the city as part of underground collective World Full of Bass. Experiencing the Tunisian Revolution firsthand, with its state-sanctioned violence, resistance protest chants and cyber activist condemnations of those in power, marked a transformative moment in her musical practice. It led the LGBTQ artist towards the sound of 2016’s Klabb EP, whose twitchy percussive textures tear a hole in the fabric of preconceived club space. That same energy is captured in live recordings for Berlin-based queer femme and non-binary collective Room 4 Resistance, where the rapid-fire brilliance of Abdelwahed’s selections moves effortlessly across deconstructed club, breaks and subterranean techno. Debut LP Khonnar is not just a cohesive album, but a cohesive political manifesto—a declarative middle finger to violence that is sought to be obscured by borders, laws and visa rules, with Abdelwahed’s voice ringing out like a siren amongst chaotic grooves that call the listener to action.
While translating the Khonnar album to a live context came with its difficulties (Abdelwahed recalls the moment after realizing none of her tempos are easily translated to 4/4 hardware), the resulting interpolation of her source material thrums with an energy that prioritizes the album's club-ready rhythmic elements. With a debut set at MUTEK that places the listener at the epicentre of her seismic, shifting percussive ideology, Deena Abdelwahed's music envisions the possibilities of tearing down the existing order, embodied in sound.
Presented with the support of the Consulate General of France in Québec.