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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Fiyawata
Monday, November 10, 2008

Remember back in the day when east and west coast artists beefed with each other? Well, Fiyawata is the complete opposite of that. Composed of Brooklyn born emcee Ambessa the Articulate and Oakland songstress Zakiya Harris, Fiyawata and their music not only work to break down barriers and misconceptions, they also push the boundaries of Hip-Hop and work to expand its definition. This week I caught up with the male half of the married musical duo to find out how two people from totally opposite ends of the country ended up finding each other and what kind of journeys into sound they’re teaming has given birth to.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with a little background info on you and the group. How and when did you two link up and become Fiyawata?
Ambessa the Articulate: Fiyawata was conceived in August of 2000 in the East Bronx at a Number 5 line train station. At the time we were in different artist programs with each other such as Jazzmobile in Harlem and Toni Blackman's Freestyle Union. I was doing a lot of shows and Zakiya and I were sharing musical resources and making songs together. A couple in denial at the time, we were on solo musician paths so as to not complicate our relationship. On that said day in The Bronx we were coming from practicing with Drumm, a band we decided to be a part of with my boy DJ Oja. On that platform, as we listed the work our band needed and how far along we both were individually, I suggested that we should be a group. At that point everything came flying to my head; our name, our sound and our concept.

Adam Bernard: Why did Fiyawata come flying to your head to be the name of the group?
Ambessa the Articulate: Our name is Astrological in nature. Both of our birth charts are dominated by Fire Sign (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) and Water Sign (Scorpio, Cancer and Pisces) elements. Zakiya is a Sagittarius and I am an Aquarius with an Aries Rising. Aquarius is air sign, but peep the aqua in the name. Fire is spiritual and Water is emotional and our music is both. Also Fiyawata represents the balance of extremes, two elements that both have great powers of creation and destruction. Male and Female. Dualities meeting at their central point.

Adam Bernard: We don't see a lot of Male – Female duos. How does that dynamic work and what do you feel is gained by it?
Ambessa the Articulate: Our dynamic serves us well in that we can speak to both sexes at the same time and being a couple, as well, challenges us to get out of our comfort zones both artistically and in terms of gender to address issues from both a dual and holistic approach. For example, I can't solely rock from a boy's locker room mindset and Zakiya can't only come from an "all men are dogs" angle, and when we do come from those respective places the message is just that real because the group is speaking that particular message from a joint consensus.

Adam Bernard: Who, or what, are your musical influences and how do you feel they're shown in your music?
Ambessa the Articulate: I don’t mean to sound cliché, but our main influences are God, love, problems and solutions. Also struggle, success, style and good old Hip-Hop braggadocio. Our music started of as Hip-Hop with strong fusions of soul and dub. We've since included rock and an ambient/electro vibe. We tend to choose high frequency, heavy beats on which we rock racy vocals and lyrics. Our favorite artists are The Roots, Bob Marley, Isaac Hayes, Diana Ross, Jimi Hedrix, Native Tongues, Nas, Common, Mos Def, Redman, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, The Beatles and Portishead.

Adam Bernard: Tell me about some of your past, and upcoming, projects.
Ambessa the Articulate: Our first project, Live In The Raw, was our studio experimentation with a live band we once played with. It was our cherry to pop and we did it very raw. It can be found on iTunes and a few other places. Our current project was released last May and I am still in love with it. It's our blend tape/CD called This Is A Journey Into Sound. It's a guaranteed rocker from start to finish and lives up to its name. We're currently slated to release its follow up This Is A Journey Into Sound Vol. 2, before Thanksgiving, as well as some killer singles for the holiday season. Everything is high impact, get out there and start dancing while we subliminally shift you into your higher self, music.

Adam Bernard: What's your live show like?
Ambessa the Articulate: With our band it’s like The Roots meets Rage Against the Machine meets Lauryn Hill. Without our band it’s like Run-DMC meets BlackStar meets MC Lyte meets Erykah Badu meets Black Thought.

Adam Bernard: How have you found your respective local scenes to be treating you?
Ambessa the Articulate: Both NY and Bay crowds love us, but New Yorkers love us, while we found we've spoiled our Bay fans. They still want to book us, but expect us on the “do it for the love” bit. I'm not feeling that. Right now I'm working to make our scene the international scene. I'm trying to get that European market these days.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what are some of the other cities you’ve been to that have been especially receptive?
Ambessa the Articulate: Memphis and San Francisco, I’d say, know the time.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/fiyawatacrew
Reverbnation: reverbnation.com/fiyawata
Sonicbids: sonicbids.com/fiyawatamovement
Website: fiyawataonline.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:34 AM  
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