You might know the song “Finest Hour” by Cash Cash, the lead female vocalist on that song is ABIR. This Moroccan stunner is already making major sound waves in the R&B-meets-dance world. She has three singles and two noteworthy collaborations under her belt–”Waves” with multi-instrumentalist rapper/singer Masego, “Fallin’” with renowned hip hop producer Illmind (Kanye West, Drake, 50 Cent), and her latest, the catchy “Girls.” She just released her debut EP titled Mint which has catchy songs such as “For Ya” and “Young and Rude.”
“Young & Rude” received online applause upon its arrival last month, with Idolator raving, “ABIR is shaping up to be one of the breakout stars of 2018…The amazingly-titled ‘Young & Rude’ (is) an instantly anthemic pop song about letting your hair down and living in the moment. Those themes are conveyed perfectly in the video.”
ABIR is currently on tour with Kiiara and ECHO had the chance to chat with her backstage at her Boston, MA show.
How did it feel to release your debut EP, Mint?
It felt really great to finally put out something to my audience… to my crowd…my fanbase. I spent so much time putting singles out and I thought that was going to be my mojo for a while. When I made the songs that are on Mint, I was like these are all fun. It wasn’t a very conceptual EP, but I just thought that the songs are fun and I made them over the last year and I was like you know what I’m going to put them on an EP. I’m going to give them out all at the same time. It was really a great experience and I’m excited to continue putting out more projects.
I was fascinated by the name Mint because typically, artists will name an album after a song title, but there is no Mint song on the EP. Why did you name the EP Mint?
I actually thought about naming it a song off the EP, but I was like…nah. Like I said, because there was really no going into the project thinking this project is going to be about such and such I kind of just made the songs and put them on one project. I was like I have to find a word that can link all of these songs and make them make sense. Mint comes from my heritage. My background. I’m Moroccan. In Morocco, we are known for Moroccan mint tea. I called it Mint because I’m saying that I’m spilling all the tea about my relationships, my friendships, whatever is going on. As a 24 year old girl, I’m laying it out on this EP. It’s kind of like me spilling the tea.
Do you have a favorite song off the EP?
I’ve been asked this a couple times and I keep saying the same thing. At first, my favorite was reunion, but every week, as I perform them on tour and hear them over and over again, I have new favorites. Honestly, this week has been ‘For Ya.’ It really just ranges. I love them all though.
You’re video for ‘Young and Rude’ has 1.6 million views. What did it feel like to wake up and see that?
We worked so hard on that video and that was my first legit video. I’ve done videos before, but that was the first time I worked hand-in-hand with the director and I knew what I was going to do. It was such a hectic video shoot too. We were so worried that weren’t going to get all the shots, but it turned out amazing. We loved it; so when we put it out, we were hoping it would get to 100K. Now it’s at 1.6 Million. We were like…what the heck! It’s so surreal, honestly.
What was your favorite part of filming the music video?
My favorite part of the video is the desert performance scene; which is me in the orange dress. It is my favorite outfit; so that’s why it’s my favorite scene. I also like me driving. It’s hilarious because I don’t actually drive. It was such an old car and it needed so much power to run it. And heres me with a permit driving it. It was ridiculous, but it was fun too. I was having to whip it backwards and I was like I have no idea how to drive!
What was the concept behind the video?
‘Young and Rude’ is a song about me saying I have these ways and I can give them up for you because you mean that much to me. In the video, I’m showing all these ways essentially. In this case, I’m a badass chick robbing gas stations. Robbing diners. The guy had no idea that he was coming along for this ride and I’m saying I could give all this stuff up for you. It’s trying to portray me for the badass that I am. Although, I don’t rob. It was like channeling another epic Bonnie and Clyde type moment without Clyde knowing what was going on.
This is your first national tour. What is it like getting to tour the country for a living?
I actually just put an instagram post up because it hit me today in the car. It’s been so crazy because the first 3 days of tour I was like oh my God this is what tour is. Now I’m actually getting the hang of this and it’s actually awesome! I get to do this for a living! I get to sing in front of people. It’s not all glamorous. You’re on long car rides and plane rides, but it’s been great to perform in front of an audience that doesn’t know me and be able to make fans at the end of the night. People have been so sweet and receptive. It’s been great.
Do you have a favorite memory on tour so far?
You know what? This is going to sound so crazy, but someone made me sign their… they couldn’t find anything for me to sign; so they pulled out their gum packet and it was my favorite gum. It was so funny to me and they were like can you sign this and I was like uh yeah! And it was my first autograph.
Do you have any pre-show rituals before going on stage?
I’m starting to create them as the tour goes and as I learn more and more about myself as an artist. I usually pray by myself first and then we do a prayer together. Honestly, the best part for me is doing my own hair and makeup because it’s peaceful. It’s the only time when no one is nagging you. Not that anyone is nagging me, but everyone leaves you alone. You have an hour and half to get ready and no one is bothering you. It’s kind of the time when I find my zen moment.
As the year comes to an end, what do you want to accomplish before the new year?
I want to get through this tour. I want to be successful on this tour. I feel like the year is almost over-what can you really get done? I know I’m going to start working on new music in December. I want to find the right record to release at the top of the year. I think that’s my goal. Or maybe two records.
Are you staying in the same type of music or are you going to experiment?
I don’t know. We are going to start working on new music at the top of December. As soon as we get off the tour and Thanksgiving is over and all that good stuff, we will go right in the studio. I don’t know. I’m excited to find out though!
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
I’ve been in America since I was six; so culturally I celebrate it. It’s nice. We do a little feast at home. My Uncles come over. It’s all moroccan food. We do do a turkey though. Outside of the turkey, everything else is Moroccan. We don’t do mashed potatoes or stuffing, but I love going to my friends house because I get that too.
What is one Moroccan food you have on the table?
Outside of the turkey, my Mom makes this chicken. It’s called Chermoula chicken. It’s so good! The marinade is called chermoula; which is amazing!
How did your collaboration with Cash Cash come to be?
I was a really big fan of their work and they are really big fans of my work. They hit me in my twitter DMs and I hit them back and next thing you know, we were in the studio. ‘Finest Hour’ was a record that I had already written. The song was pretty much almost there and they came in a took it to the next level. It was an easy one for us because they knew what to do with it to make it great.
What was it like knowing that they were fans of your music?
It was great! They make such great songs and they always use these great powerhouse vocalists. They know how to really cut through to their audience. They made ‘Finest Hour’ great!.
Do you have any advice to artists trying to make it in the music industry?
I always say this because it’s the most important thing and I have to remind myself all the time.The music industry is forever going to change with the way music is received. You have instagram. You don’t have CDs anymore. Back in the day, people were always going to the store to get a CD. They had to wait to see what their favorite artist wore in a magazine. You couldn’t google image, “what did Ariana Grande Wear?” Nowadays, you’ve got to really be yourself and not change just because everything around you is changing. Be true to who you are. I’m saying that because on instagram, twitter and all these social media platforms- you’re exposed to so much at all times. It’s very easy to not be yourself because you see so many other people do this and that. I think to stick out, you really just have to stay true to who you are. Do shit that you like to do not just cause other people like it.
Make sure you catch ABIR opening for Kiiara on tour by purchasing tickets here!