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Premiere: Rotana - "Her Life"

office had the chance to catch up with Rotana just in time for the debut of her EP In Her Life, a sensuous mixture of lyric and body that surges with energy. Positioned before a rich royal blue tapestry, the artist gifts the viewer with an immersive experience of her life that is as erotic as it is poetic. 


What do you think the correlation is between lyric and body? How did this relationship inform your movement in this video?


I was really just moving to a feeling of being free and doing things for myself. Personally when I do that, very sensual relationship is created between body and lyric, one that reflects the relationship I have with myself and the way I interact with the world around me. That’s what this video captures, a very slow, intentional movement. I take my time, and really that’s what the words are talking about. You can barely hear it but the song is in the background, it’s an Arabic song about a girl waking up and listening to the roosters crow, and there’s this theme of really just taking your time when your doing something for yourself.


What type of influence does your gender have on the work you produce?


I mean it has all the influence; I write everything I write from a very personal perspective and my perspective is that of a woman. It’s all I’ve ever been, so it’s really everything. And also that piece is a very personal anecdote of my experience as a Saudi woman because it really took me twenty years to realize that anything I wanted was there for me to grab. To realize that everything that I did could be for my own pleasure, and my own enjoyment, and it didn’t need to be served to God, or men, in order for it to be worthy or sensible. I think that’s a very unique anecdote of my experience growing up in Saudi Arabia, but I don’t think that there is a woman on this planet that doesn’t have that moment. Some people have it when they’re six years old and some people have it when they’re seventy. I’m just trying to put out content that is going to help women to come to that realization sooner. My sister had that realization for herself when I started pursuing my music because she saw me do it. So I just want to do my thing so people can be like ‘oh shit, everything is there for me to grab!’ because no one told me. 

Describe the power of performing under your first name.


To me I never even thought of not using my name, especially when decided to pursue the pop-music industry, which is so saturated yet there isn’t even a single female Arab presence in it. I’m guessing there are some Arab artists, but they were born and raised here in the United States. It was really important for me that I took my language with me. Rotana is a type of date in the Western province of Saudi Arabia and it comes from where the prophet lives, so there is kind of this cultural and religious meaning to it. I hold on to my religion and culture out of love and respect. I don’t follow it strictly or in any extremist way, but I want to insert that culture, that beauty, into the west because I think that there are very few voices that are using our language in a dynamic way. So it was never really an option not to use my name, and it sounds good, one word.

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