Light Leaks (for Sarah) yadayn
Three songs for my best friend Sarah who took her own life four months ago. We knew each other almost exactly ten years at that point. We met in September 2012 as fellow students of Arabic in Cairo and quickly became very close friends. For a short period of time we were also band mates. In 2012 yadayn was still a very new project and I hadn’t quite decided yet on whether it should be all instrumental or not. I had a few songs with vocals written, so when I heard that Sarah enjoyed singing I asked her if she would like to sing those songs with my guitar accompaniment. In the next months I would regularly cycle down to her apartment in Zamalek to practice these songs. We played three gigs in Cairo: one in my living room for friends — it will always remain one of my favourite concerts ever — and two public gigs in Sufi Bookstore and Deena’s Hostel. After we both returned to Belgium we played two further gigs in Ghent and a very short support in Leuven for a gig by my band Zura Zaj. By the time I went to record my debut album I decided these songs didn’t quite fit with the other material I had written. We never played them again. With her passing I revisited these songs and decided to finally make some proper recordings of two of them in her memory. The final two tracks on this EP, "Night" and "Two By One”, are the two pieces that are most closely linked to her. In fact, they are in large part about her. "Two By One" was written while we were still in Cairo. "Night" was written a little later when we had returned to Belgium. When I picked up these songs again after her death, I sang their lyrics myself. It gave me some catharsis to do so at first but it also didn’t feel right for these recordings. In the end it felt better to leave the vocals and lyrics out entirely. They are forever hers. Instead I played some rough approximations of the vocal melody lines on the grand piano of my girlfriend's father in Paris. I recorded the overdub in a single take a few weeks after he passed away as well. I never knew him as well as I knew Sarah, but in a small way these recordings are in his memory too. The title track of this EP “Light Leaks” is much more recent: it came to me in the weeks following Sarah’s death. Some months after she passed away I was recommended to read Victor Hugo’s poem "Demain dès l'aube" and was absolutely floored by it. I asked Amr Molham, a common friend of Sarah and me from Cairo to read it. Sarah never particularly liked French, so I asked Amr to read it in the Arabic language she loved so deeply. I am grateful for his contribution and his friendship. The cover photograph was taken when Sarah was by my side in La Palma in January 2019. My camera was suffering from light leaks at the time, which resulted in a ghostly presence pervading many of my photographs. A little like how pain kept seeping through her skin, resulting in such profound discomfort that coupled with mental illness it made her not want to live anymore. Any proceeds of these recordings will be donated to charities working with refugees (Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen) and providing assistance for those struggling with suicidal thoughts (Zelfmoordlijn).