SoundCloud Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Mariam Zohra (Myrh) Eclectic Singer and Queen of Collaborations Vancouver, Canada

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Mariam Zohra (aka Myrh) is an eclectic painter, poet, author, dedicated musician and vocalist. Myrh was originally born in London, is Pakistani by blood, and currently resides in Vancouver, Canada with her family. She has both a daughter named Tiesa (who is a multidisciplinary artist) and a mother (Fauzia Rafique) who is also an author and poet. Myrh regularly works with musicians from all over SoundCloud so much so, that it becomes quite confusing trying to keep count of all of her collaborations. She has completed at least 300 plus tracks and that number is still growing ever continuously.

   (Above) Recommended Myrh Favorites: “Green Gold” by Donald Bell & Myrh 

During the day, Myrh is a poster designer, a yoga Thai massage practitioner, and president for the board and founder of (the monthly event and blog) Surrey Muse which supports artists of all kinds (not just in music.) She is a founder and admin for the fb forum The SoundCloud Community Of Doom along with Waking Dream and as a singer, and SoundCloud enthusiast, she has steadily built up this community, vastly contributing to the underground scene and its artists. She plays her part to keep the site & community alive because SoundCloud was one of the first music networks that didn’t require artists to pay a monthly fee to upload tracks. Thus, this is where we (as Soundcloud artists ourselves) started to form life long musical connections and relationships. I suspect that whether she knows it or not, Myrh has made an impression upon countless musicians and artists throughout the world.

I met Myrh for the first time almost 3 years ago, when we (Lyra and I ) first created our project SoundCloud account. During our first talks, I could not help but notice Myrh’s warm demeanor and a spirited creative streak complete with a fearless, unstoppable passion for self expression. To us, she was both a relatable and high energy human; unafraid to share pieces of herself with others on a deeper, more personal level. 

      (Below) Recommended Myrh Favorites: “Ahona (w/Myrh)” by Unearth Noise 

In the beginning, I can recall her posting up an entire Waking Dream playlist and promoting it for us. We didn’t ask her to do so and not once did she request a return promotion. It has always been this way as we have watched each other grow as artists and vocalists, even together on artist compilations like No Records

I remember noting that she was also very precise and efficient much like a machine, in the way that she had the ability to effortlessly skip around the genres and adapted so easily to all different types of creators and creations (both without difficulty, and without complaint.) I found this quality within her to be highly impressive and that impact stayed with me (just as she has made an impact with compassion and care on so many collaborative artists.)

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Myrh features her collaborations on both the TaRka SoundCloud and Fb pages, and she makes it a point to do so every time a piece is finished. It is due to her diligence that numerous artists get to progress and enhance their works. She goes out of her way to give them a voice; breathing life and harmony into the SoundCloud universe. It is a keen observation, realizing that Soundcloud musicians (who are not vocalists) tend to have difficulty finding other vocalists to work with as most require pay and already put together, “radio-friendly type” songs. It also seems to be a necessity for vocalists to be able to meet up with their collaborators in person.

With Myrh however, these factors become no longer important. All music is fair game and location is irrelevant. She puts in the time not for monetary gain or power, but because she believes in the cause of reviving the arts. She truly is that lively, that kind, and that inspired by what she is doing (which is to help underground artists be both seen and heard (in a world where business, money and corporate power have slowly diminished any type of creativity, innovation, originality, and artistic potential.)

   (Below) Recommended Myth Favorites: “Warrior Witches” by Agitation Φ, Bissecta De Kinsâme and Myrh.

                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                            ABOUT THE MUSIC                                                                  

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It is difficult to choose favorites among the library of endless Myrh related tracks. There are so, so many and they are all different from one another. So, what I’ll do is select  four tracks from a list of Myrh’s latest collaborations. We’ll go over each track, I’ll show you my interview with Myrh and then we’ll end with some final thoughts. I will also discuss one Myrh music video that I found to be visually captivating, emotionally stimulating and awe inspiring.

“Hard-to-Handle” is the first track I’d like to mention and that is by Emmy Infernal and Myrh. The beat immediately grabs you with its drum & bass influence, as Myrh’s voice filters in and out, striking you down like lightning, as the music pulsates through you forcing it’s way into your algorithm of obvious favorites. A smorgasbord of soundscapes rise to the surface. Colors flash and shapes move, dance and swirl around inside your head.  

This techno-licious environment of this industrious creation delivers with it, the acute ability to hold your attention throughout the entirety of its 6 minutes and 21 seconds. I can’t help but to love this track, because it is simplistic, and yet embodies the soul of the once was rave scene. Colorful, artsy, psychedelic to its core, no one can go wrong with Hard-to-Handle.  

“Swan Star” on the other hand, is a track from the project Dreamspeak (between Myrh and Unearth Noise.) It is featured on the TaRka playlist The Summoning and brings with it images of greenery, oceanic mermaids, marvelous cherry blossoms and the sacred spirit of lonely willow tree. The harp-like acoustics of this song are soft and subtle, matching the filtered echoes and tone of Myrh’s mellow and earthy vocals. Perhaps, in that moment it could feel possible to float over the clouds and sit on the quarter moon; taking in the universe and its many secrets and mysteries.

Complete with Unearth Noise’s influence of psychedelic rock, this songs radiates a peaceful vibration to the inner self, and as we listen to Myrh singer, each note  becomes an invocation that manifests the ability to forget one’s thoughts and pause to look around in the moment and breathe. Myrh’s voice swims gracefully through the music of this track and the guitar follows fondly right along with her, adding to the affect of this simple, yet lovely melody.

Moving forward to the next track is a new face, a new place, and new feats reached for the Myrh music spectrum. This latest creation comes from the Mu Tiny & Myrh playlist and is called “WESTERN PSYCHOSIS” by EEE Ville, Mu Tiny and Myrh.  The song can be found both the EEE Ville and TaRka pages.  

The rules have changed and “WESTERN PSYCHOSIS” comes alive as an electronic/techno, mix (with an experimental taste and psychedelic flare.) The synth becomes stronger and stronger, as the build up transforms us and takes us to a more introspective, cerebral and sometimes maddening tendency lying within each and every human and within the chaos of nature. Although, the title clearly expresses a distaste for the noticeably darker aspects of the U.S. government and life, it doesn’t seem to come across as negative within the music. It’s all about the energy within this track. Despite the name, all positive vibes hold up to the collective intention. Let’s move on to the final track.

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A bit of world music and a dash of techno come together from the Ingrid///Myrh playlist in the song “Hazaar Tarike” (also translated from Urdu as 1000 ways/routes/strategies.) This piece (both trippy and  meditative) include Myrh’s signature fading vocals mixed in with elegance, brushing along the canvas of this etherial melodic bliss. Myrh sings the words “one road, two people, one thousand ways.” Between each hum there in lies a heartbeat that strengthens, and becomes all the more revitalized, giving with it a healing atmospheric like state.

What common ground do these four songs share? Blessed with a certain sedating and spiritual quality, it becomes important to note that within most of Myrh’s mystical and poetic lyrics there always seems to be in part, a free verse stylistic pace. At times she seems to take her words to a place that is very personal, and thus, can be easily interpreted by and according to the individual listener. This can be a good thing because it can make a track more relatable concerning a variety of life experiences. With that said, it’s been a long one, but we should take a look at my interview with Myrh.

               (Below) Myrh artwork and authored Ebook “These Tales Are True.”

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                THE INTERVIEW                                                                   

Tell me more about TaRka. How did you come up with the names TaRka & Myrh (your stage name?)

Myrh: It seemed to me in the beginning that everyone assumed the keeper of the page was male, and that this male persona was the musician aspect of TaRka. I needed to tell others in moments, that I was female, that I ran the page, and that I was a vocalist named Myrh that was open of course to collaborations. I picked the name Myrh because my name is Mariam, and often I’ve noticed one doesn’t know how to pronounce it. It’s not Miriam, or Mary or Marianne or anything like that. It’s just pronounced like Myrh just as it sounds. You could think of it as Myrh combined with the word yummy: Myrh-yum. lol That’s why the url of TaRka is @myrhyum. Also, I’m into the sound of words, and the root sound of Mariam is mur, (a sound associated with the idea of love.) Myrh, as a resin is sweet, the branches have thorns, and this is how love can be sometimes? “Tariqa” and “tariqat” originally meant “the path” and “the path walker.” However, in Islam it means the “one who walks the righteous path.” Hence, I went for the phonetic other TaRka instead of keeping these words as project names. TaRka is the name of a cooking process and it involves heating oil and letting seeds and spices sizzle and crackle in there. You would typically pour this oil with everything into the dish you are to eat much like lentil. This step would be the final step to complete it.You could think of it as spiking the punch at a funeral. 

Okay. 3 questions: how many SoundCloud artists have you collaborated with?  How regularly do you collaborate with SoundCloud artists and what made you decide that you loved collaborations?

Myrh: On average I create a dozen songs or so in a month I guess, but sometimes more than that. It could be one or two new collaborative connections sometimes in a month, but I tend to have some collaborators that I regularly work with, and so two tracks with the same artist might be released in that same month. Collaborating in general just seems like the natural thing for me as a singer who likes to work with various types of music. I also think it’s important to encourage experimental makers who don’t have a voice as often either. It became an agent for me to connect with folks and to make TaRka a place where other musicians could meet and collaborate with one another as well. My content is in my lyrics and how I sing them, so it becomes easy for me to feel connected to the songs I work on and to share them with other artists. At first it was hard. I was protective of myself and thought what if I got a song I didn’t like? What I found is that there is a live aspect to it in the moment when I’m making it, and that I could create all types of tracks with all types of artists. It’s like opening up a portal and having no limits. The biggest thing is just enjoyment. I like when a musician is pleased with a work and it fuels me like a constant ritual, a constant open mic, and a constant celebration a jam out.  I wanted to show that experimental music is worthy of appreciation.  There is so much competition in music, but in our SC community there is some, but not as much of it and I am glad for that.

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As a musician, lyricist or poet, what are some of your influences?

Myrh: Dione Brand is a poet I read when I was a teenager in Toronto and I met her too. I loved her poetic style and content, but I grew up listening to my parents quote poetry to one another at the dinner table. I heard it in Pakistani and Indian songs and from poets like Ghalib and Buleh Shah. I also heard a lot of open mic poets and performers because my mother is a writer and she would take me to events, and she knew I was writing poems. I heard performers like Nusaret Fateh Ali Khan and Phathan Khan in our living room in Pakistan. These singers worked with some deep and beautiful poetry and I didn’t understand the words so much at the time, but I felt the tones. When I came to Canada and listened to the top forty on the radio, I sang all the hooks and choruses, but when it wasn’t on, I found myself humming from one tune and connecting it to a melody, phrasing from the Pakistani and Indian tones I grew up with. This was very healing for me, very nutritious for my whole being and still is.

What was or what were the tones like? Weird question, but I’m curious.

Myrh: There are other Pakistani singers that influenced me, like Abida Parveen, Reshman, and Mulkhah Pukhraj, but I also was early on introduced to Pink Floyd, as my parents had a record store in Pakistan for a short period. I heard a lot of stuff via my dad, but I only loved Pink Floyd from his collection. Nothing else stood out as that did. When I moved to Canada, Nina Simone and Sweet Honey In The Rock really took me so to speak: old reggae tunes (not just Bob Marley ones) really connected with me in terms of tones, rhythm and attitude and I was very much attracted to the djembe from early on. I remember I would spend a lot of summers watching Tiesa on the playground while I sat on my djembe playing a beat and singing out some of my rhymes so to speak or chants. However you wish to look at it. I liked other genres, but growing up they weren’t an influence for me. I think it’s because of who else was around me and what I was introduced to or discovered on my own. A djembe is a solo hand drum by the way.

What music videos on YouTube have you created for some of your tracks and track collaborations?

Myrh: With Michael Louw and Disborda it was “YOUR LIFE AIN’T A STATISTIC” on Vimeo. Also with Michael Louw, I created the Vimeo from Fauzia Rafique’s “PAKISTAN’S MOCK OSCAR.” As for YouTube, if you go to the “Roving Sex Gang,” and “Jumble & Myrh” pages, you will find “Lit City” where I very much enjoyed dancing for Jenny Jumble’s track, “Sink Ships” which was Jenny’s and my first collaboration together, and “The Subjective Self” the first video I ever made with a Blackberry phone. 

Your Life Ain’t A statistic:

https://vimeo.com/221669878

Pakistan’s Mock Oscar

https://vimeo.com/159761924

This is just a favorite question of mine. What is the music scene like over in Vancouver, Canada?

Myrh: I don’t know what the music scene really is in Vancouver. I’m very involved in the SoundCloud community but I’ve listened to a lot of live gypsy and Roma influenced bands, and of course, a lot of live local world music groups.

Okay last question. I wanted to know a little bit about the album and track icon concept art.

Myrh: The art work just like the lyrical work, comes from a history of doodles, paintings, writings, and poetry that date back to when I was 8 and onward. Photoshop gives the final effect and finesse, but these drawings and paintings are scanned at an earlier date and are given new life and space. Otherwise, I use still shots from film footage as one begins to gather all this video data via the built in cameras on desktops, laptops, and handheld devices. My artwork is traditionally centered around a woman (either robed or naked,) the ocean, a boat, an eye, and the mountains and trees. I sometimes collaborate with my artwork. Astarte 23 does most of the artwork for MAAT (with both Agitation Φ and me.)

                                                                                                                                                                   

                           CONCLUSIONS AND TRACK/VIDEO RECOMMENDATIONS                        

Okay. With that said, here are some of my track recommendations. If you scroll to the beginning this article you can find three of my favorite Myrh related tracks, which include “Green Gold,” “Ahona,” and “Warrior Witches.” All are absolutely my favorite Myrh tracks of all time. I also love “And The Light Beams Will Guide The Way” which is a Dreamspeak Collaboration EP with Unearth Noise.

And The Light Beams Will Guide The Way (Full EP on BandCamp)

My favorite music videos of Myrh include “Pakistan’s Mock Oscar,” which she already mentioned and you can find here: “Pakistan’s Mock Oscar “and the Roving Sex Gang (aka Jenny Jumble & Myrh) video “Thru The Keyhole” which I found visually to be highly engaging and quite stunning to watch. 

Here’s why I dubbed Myrh the “SoundCloud Queen of Collaborations.” Myrh has become over time a great influence and inspiration to those around her. She supports the idea that we can all make the underground scene more prominent, subverting the mass media and breaking through the closed doors, glass ceilings, and brick barriers of the music industry. She always tries to see the true potential in a track yet to be tapped into and she gives guidance to others, helping to surface a multitude of various music projects by the hundreds. She regularly promotes these projects and tracks to the general public and rules the SoundCloud kingdom with kindness and encouragement. That part of her throughout the years has never changed. Thank you Myrh for what you have done, and what you are continuing to do to change the music scene. Keep up the good work!

If you’d like to hear more of Myrh, her FB and SoundCloud pages are posted below. Thank you so much and as always, I hope you enjoyed the article. See you next time! 

-Liz Lund of Waking Dream 

 

The Myrh & TaRka SoundCloud Pages:

 

TaRka FB Page:

TaRka FB Link

 

Myrh’s Deviant Art Page:

Deviant Art Link

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