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Musician born after crisis derails her career

Zain Sajdi, known by her stage name Zeyne, is seen during studio sessions in this undated photo.
Zein Sajdi, known by her stage name Zeyne, is seen during studio sessions in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Zein Sajdi)
AMMAN — Zein Sajdi, who goes by the stage name Zeyne, found a silver lining in the pandemic.اضافة اعلان

COVID-19 completely derailed Sajdi’s original career plans in sociology, communications, and media. She told Jordan News that she was devastated when the lockdown in Jordan cost her a job offer in London she had been aiming for all throughout her undergraduate career. Though she did not know it at the time, this setback eventually acted in her favor.

“When I lost my job, everyone was telling me that everything happens for a reason. But I wasn’t able to see that reason until it came to me,” she said in an interview with Jordan News. “It felt like the whole universe aligned and led me to my purpose, as cliché as that sounds. I had this gut feeling that music is what I’m supposed to be doing and everything else was just getting me closer to where I am now.”

Sajdi grew up in a family of musicians and performers, which inspired her love for all forms of art. Her sisters played the piano and her dad used to bring her CDs from all around the world, including South Africa, Turkey, and Morocco.

“I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music in a lot of different languages. So that taught me to appreciate music from a very young age. Music is infinite and the possibilities of how it can sound are infinite,” she said.

In the beginning, Sajdi was fairly shy, uploading music covers on social media with only half of her face visible. She told Jordan News that her music-focused Instagram account began merely as a quarantine project that would be completely shut down afterwards. However, her account gained traction with time, allowing her to make great connections in the local music scene.

Her first live performance took place at a pub downtown with two other musicians, Lima and Runwa. Seeing people respond in real life rather than behind a screen gave her the confidence boost she needed.

“The rush that I felt performing live and seeing the audience interact, it hit differently,” she said. “It was a surreal moment.”

Being part of the music scene in general and the Jordanian Female Artist Collective, in particular, encouraged Sajdi to continue her journey in music. The collective, according to Sajdi, provides local female artists with the resources and opportunities they need to grow, jam, and collaborate.

“It’s a really cool initiative and being a part of that community feels incredible. When we performed at Amman Jazz Festival and my part came, I felt so supported in a way that I felt invincible.”

With encouragement from her friends and family, support from Keife Records, and mentorship from independent singer-songwriter Hana Malhas, Sajdi was able to make a career out of her passion.

“It was one of the hardest decisions of my life but it felt very good,” she said. “I felt at peace making it. But it took a lot of courage to pursue music professionally and focus all my energy on it.”

Her debut single, “Minni Ana”, is all about the self and the way in which people manage relationships, overcome anxiety, and set boundaries. Producing the song with her co-writer and producer, Nasir Al-Bashir, required honesty and transparency on Sajdi’s part as she drew on personal experience.

“I wanted to portray the whole truth in my song. My creative process started with a lot of therapeutic conversations between me and Nasir. It was hard putting my feelings out there but when I did, it felt like a release and there was clarity about what I wanted to talk about.”

The song expresses different emotions, according to Sajdi, but it essentially sends the message that strength and confidence must come from within.

“When you’re going through something, people give you these words of encouragement that sometimes come off as dismissive,” she explained. “I won’t feel strong unless I hear it from myself. You need to find the voice within that tells you you’re going to be okay.”

She adds that her choice to create music in Arabic was less of a preference and more of an obligation. Sajdi’s truest self could only be represented in her mother tongue, she said. And she wanted to build a sound that people from her culture and generation would relate to.

“Through my songs, I aim to showcase different stories and experiences that represent me in one way or another. I’m talking about the self, I’m talking about identity and the homeland, I’m talking about love in certain cases,” she said. “So, I want to be as truthful as possible.”

Sajdi is in it for the long run when it comes to music. She wants to continue exploring and experimenting, but her sound will mostly revolve around R&B and Soul, which she believes is underrepresented in Arabic.

“I want to explore that genre with everyone. It’s a new playground and I want to introduce people to it by fusing that R&B sound with my Arabic muses and inspirations.”

As for her upcoming projects, Sajdi teased a more upbeat summer song.

“It’s very exciting, honestly. It’s going to be released in a few months. It’s not too far off from my sound but more summer-y for sure. And there might be a special feature,” she said.

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