PR Curator in Residence Shirine Saad presents another addition of her series Hiya Live Sessions [Thursday 7.21], a festival amplifying the radical feminist voices of the SWANA region and beyond. For this evening, she’s invited transdisciplinary creator Ganavya, whose voice has been produced by Quincy Jones, has hit #1 in jazz charts, and has been featured on multiple Grammy award-winning works. Ganavya brings forth an inherited age-old storytelling and pilgrimage tradition, and uses it to turn the poetry of her friend and critically acclaimed author Fariha Róisín’s poetry into song. The band, featuring Rajna Swaminathan (piano), Fabi Reyna (guitar) and Sunny Jain (drums) will be joined by many special guests. Opening the night will be Shirine with an experimental DJ set. Ushka, the Sri Lankan-born, Thailand-raised, Brooklyn-based deejay will close the night with an abstract exploration of blended deconstructed beats from the region and beyond. Ahead of Thursday, we got a preview of dancefloor tracks from Shirine + Ushka and spoke to Ganavya about using music to breathe life into poetry. Read below: 

Shirine: Hiya Live Sessions is a trip into radical noisemaking and rhythms for feminist liberation, and 700 Bliss’ experiments in club music and poetic futurism are an important testimony to our times. This track’s hard, industrial beats and repetitive incantations are a poignant response to our dystopian era and global sense of hopelessness. The club has always been a space for channeling and alchemizing these movements in culture, and DJ Haram and Moor Mother are two of the scene’s most powerful shamans. I can’t wait to mix this track!


Thanu: With Hiya Live Sessions’ spirit of sonic and rhythmic experimentation, I’m sharing a track called Shapeshifter from 8ulentina’s new EP “Hysteria of Origins.” I like that it blends Drum n Bass and elements of Jungle with stripped back acoustic Arabic melodies. I think it shows the range of creativity and experimentation and reach towards ecstasy and liberation that Hiya is about.

And a quick word with Ganavya:

PR: How did you approach this reinterpretation/adaptation of Fariha’s words into your own musical palette?

Ganavya: My voice was born in-between two approaches to form: one, a classical art form, brought joy to those listening to it by creating intricate displays of virtuosity while living within a grammar that could only be understood over years; second, a pilgrimage tradition that used form as an object to witness together, and quickly become one together. Over time, I gravitated towards the second path. The kind of music that keeps you going while you’re walking for days in the sun, towards the temple. The rhythm, a cloth cradle rocking you into a state of rest while you walk. Melodies that stay with you long after you first heard them. To me, pop music and pilgrimage music share this: it’s about how many of us can sing along, live along, experience catharsis alongside each other. Undoing the split between self and other. 

But even so, all of the poetry I set to music as a child, even on the pilgrimage trail, was from centuries ago. So for this, we’re going to use the spiritual technology of harikatha, where you use music to breathe life into poetry, what I call a “technology of veneration”, and point it towards divinity and miracles in the now. We will celebrate a poet that studies and lives miracles in the now. A queer, Muslim poet. A soft, strong hearted body I have hugged in this lifetime. Fariha Róisín, and her book How To Cure A Ghost. Each of these songs were made in collaboration with another artist. We have no competition here. What we have is community.


Tickets for Shirine + Ganavya + Ushka available via Dice + RA.