Words by Angelika May
Photography by Anya Rose
Following the release of her single “Palate Cleanser” earlier this year, Yasmina, aka Sunkissed Child, has showcased an evidential talent for crafting vocally enriching tracks imbued with the essence of summer. Her Lebanese origins, weave a captivating narrative into her music, through a fusion of languages, genres and intricate nuances. Sunkissed Child’s influences flit between, R&B, Neo-Soul, and Hip-Hop as well as resonant Arabic and Middle Eastern motifs.
I caught Sunkissed Child following her set at The Big Top Tent during the We Out Here festival to discuss the right way to make lemonade, the process of encapsulating “musical sunshine” and the significance of cherishing your cultural roots.
How are you feeling post-performance?
SUNKISSED CHILD: Good! It went so well. I was very…I don’t want to say nervous, let’s say “over-excited”. I tend to get stressed and a little crazy before performing. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I’m anxious for it to go well, but as soon as I get on stage, all of that anxiety and stress vanishes.
Do you have any pre-show warm-ups?
SKC - I do a lot of jumping. I also give out lots of big squeezes to everyone before we jump on stage.
On stage, it’s evident there is a natural warmth between members, how do you know each other?
SKC - I met these incredible musicians at uni in Leeds and it’s been uphill from then on, this weekend there are around fifty of us from Leeds camping together. I always wanted to use musicians that I really value, that I consider to be friends. I don’t like to switch between musicians, the rehearsal room has a tendency to be a vulnerable space, and I want to make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength so we can grow together.
Do you find your Middle Eastern roots to be a creative influence?
SKC - Less so when I first moved here, but now, absolutely. When I first moved here, I felt the need to reject my own culture to seek out a Western culture as this was where my musical inspiration derived from, primarily the UK and the US. Later on, I began to realise that I needed to keep a firm relationship with my own roots and dig deeper into how I can use my own culture in my music. Recently, I have been listening to more Middle Eastern music to generate ideas and influence the stories I’m telling, the languages I use or even the modes and tones I create in my compositions. Now I use Middle Eastern nuggets to remind myself and my audience where I come from and what that represents.
Are you still based in Leeds?
SKC - No, I live in London now.
Favourite Lebanese in London?
SKC - I’ll have to get back to you on that one, every time I’ve sought out Lebanese food it hasn’t been run by anyone Lebanese, so I’ve been a little disappointed.
Let's forget restaurants, what’s a Lebanese dish that your mum would cook for you that reminds you of home?
SKC - Moughrabiyeh it’s my favourite.
Your sound has been described as “musical sunshine". How do you believe you capture this essence?
SKC - Growing up in Lebanon, as a country, we have always struggled a little bit. However, one thing we are very good at is being resilient, keeping happy and positive and trying to not get too let down by life. I try to carry this sentiment, not only in my music but in my personal life too. People want positivity, they want to feel good energy and connection and that’s what I try to give to an audience through my shows because music is joy. Yes, it’s important to speak about lower moments, but it’s important to find a little joy in those moments too, to try to put things to one side and enjoy where you are now, the people around you, the beautiful sunshine etc.
What’s your favourite palate cleanser?
SKC - Ginger, I’m obsessed with it. Or a good lemonade, still, with lots of sugar, which is the right way to make it by the way! In the UK, when I ask for a lemonade all I get is the fizzy stuff.
Who’s been your favourite act at We Out Here so far?
SKC - Children Of Zeus, before listening to them I had the impression they were quite a heavy band, but that really isn’t the case. The music is incredibly emotional, the lead singer delivers a raw and emotional performance. Watching their set as the sun went down was blissful. Another artist who is a huge inspiration is b-ahwe, who played today at the Lush Life stage, I’ve been blessed to support them last year.
What song has been on repeat for you this summer?
SKC - Without trying to sound too cliche having moved to London, I would have to say “Who Told You” by J Hus, or “Sprinter” by Central Cee and Dave. UK rap drives me crazy in the summer, it just hits differently. It kind of goes against people’s first impressions of me, they expect me to listen to soft, neo-soul, but I need something heavier, I need hype music.
What’s on your “getting ready” playlist?
SKC - Another Leeds band, TC and The Groove Family, very afro-beats. It brings me a lot of happiness.
The Leeds Jazz scene seems to be notoriously well-connected.
SKC - One hundred per cent, it’s important to keep hold of the community you came from as the industry can often feel quite lonely. It’s a hard slog, but if you support one another and show up for each other that’s how you get far, together.
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