Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Kashmere Hakim

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Kashmere HakimA lot of you out there think that MySpace is dying and that no one still uses it. I have been on this social network for a long time and even have a second account to showcase all of my abstract artwork that I did a few years ago. Granted, I have very little information on there and I rarely update my profile, but I do still use MySpace and I visit it on a daily basis to listen to a new band or to meet new artists. One of the acts that I met on MySpace comes to us from the Netherlands and brings to the stage a unique voice and some sick guitar skills. I also love his writing. His lyrics just continue to impress me the more I listen to his work. I first discovered him by accident, and sent him an email introducing myself. One email led to another and we became friends. Eventually he and I got the chance to sit down together. I asked him questions about his heritage and his music and everything in between. I dare you to listen to his work and not feel something deeper than what’s on the surface. You get taken away by his melodies and when his voice begins nothing else seems to matter. Imagine hearing what a dream feels like. It’s truly magical. It is a pleasure to introduce you to Kashmere Hakim.

How do you pronounce your name?

Kashmere Hakim (cash-meer hak-eem).

Where are you originally from?

My parental roots are from Marrakech, Morocco. I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Do you write all of your own lyrics?

Every single one of them.

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

It can come from anything. From small to big things. Personal experiences. Social issues. Hard times that I’ve been through; believe me I have been through a lot of things. Seriously, it can be anything.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

I remember getting a red plastic fake guitar at the age of eight or nine from my parents. I held it tight and loved it; took me years later to find the real guitar and have that same feeling again. I still have that picture man holding that red guitar.

Listening to you song makes me want to sip on a thick European beer. What is your favorite European beer?

It used to be a cold Heineken but I have ignored the bottle for years. I’m on other things now.

What are you drinking on stage?

Lots of clear water.

Have you ever been to the United States?

No, actually not but I am thinking about coming over. There are a lots of places in the States I would like to visit. I would love to just rent a car and hit the road. I’m telling you, I’m with you guys soon.

I was in Amsterdam a couple years ago. What do you think about the city?

It’s the city of rock and roll. Amsterdam is a great place. A little odd maybe for tourists due to the fact that lots of things are possible here. The open-minded culture of the city attracts different people, mainly people that want to live and be free. I hear American tourists comparing Amsterdam with New York a lot. Some things are changing in the city but hey so is everything, right?

Is smoking marijuana still legal there?

It’s allowed to buy soft-drugs over here. That is still legal.

I love your MySpace design. Who did that?

I did the design for my MySpace and my website myself. That is a real typewriter by the way. I have made a picture of it and then edit it for the site.

Speaking of MySpace, what are your thoughts on the service?

MySpace is a good platform for musicians/listeners. It gained a lots of popularity. I noticed that they are still changing stuff too, some things I personally don’t like but we’ll see. For now it is great to have this social media thing letting you reach listeners all over the world.

Are you on Twitter?

Yeah, I am. You should follow me! I’m actually more on Facebook as well. I just want to write and make music. Social media will suck up your life if you try to do everything but I do my best and post things on a regular basis.

Do you have a job outside of music?

I do have a part-time job.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan,  Earl Scruggs, Furry Lewis, and Nick Drake to mention a few.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

I don’t visit lots of concerts. But there are some musicians out there that I still want to see live someday. And those concerts will definitely be the best ever.

Tell me more about your new EP.

The Hillsinger is a six track pure back-to-basic acoustic folky EP. Led by the lyrics, accompanied by simple guitar finger-picking. Original arrangements, dipped in an honest intimate sound. There are also other instruments involved like harmonica, violin, mandolin. The Hillsinger EP is getting great reviews.

Do you consider yourself a hillsinger?

I never gave myself that name. There were different people listening to my music and telling me that my sound is airy or dreamy, or that i have a protesting sound. Then there was this one particular guy who told me, “Kashmere, for me you are the Hillsinger.” And I liked that; it kind of summed up all the other things that i was hearing about my sound. I was like, let’s use this.

What was the last movie you saw?

I just watched District 9.

Did you like it?

Yes. I really love science fiction movies. Grew up with sci-fi.

You look like a guy that can appreciate a good cup of coffee. Do you drink coffee?

Funny you mention that man. I just got booked for a gig at a place that sells mainly coffee. They offered to pay me in “coffee ticket strips” because they were not allowed to pay musicians in cash. That is not a joke. I agreed with them for this time, but do you know why? Because sometimes in life you have to make different choices. They can be wise, cool, funny, weird. But now, now I have lots of coffee to try out and I like that!

I love Europe. I have spent time in France, Germany and Poland. Do you travel around a lot in Europe?

Just came back from Spain. I did and still do travel around Europe. I’m saving now for a special train-ticket. It’s valid for one month and you’re allowed to travel with that ticket through thirty countries in Europe and back home as long as it is in one month. So I am saving for it and will try to combine this trip with lots of music-playing on the streets.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

New York.

Did you watch the World Cup?

I had a tour going on that I was preparing for. So I couldn’t watch some important matches but I was definitely following the Dutch team. We made the finals.

How did you learn how to speak English?

We learn English in school. But the thing is, I think that MTV taught me more than what I learned in school.

How did you react to the passing of Michael Jackson?

I was just zapping on TV, then CNN had this headline that Michael Jackson passed away. Man I just couldn’t believe it. MJ is an encyclopedia in music. A big loss.

Any thoughts on a full length disc now that your EP has been released?

Yeah I am working on it. Lots of new material, new ideas. No release date to mention now but it’s on its way.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Man, I never have the right answers for those questions because lots of things can change or happen in five years. But I always think big. I see myself doing lots of shows, having some strong albums out and making music all over the world signed by a major record company.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

The day I get lowered in my grave I want to leave something behind that people will listen and talk about for a long, long time. A hopefully strong album.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

I want to tell the people out there who read this, add me on Facebook and Twitter and you can see what I am up too. You can buy a physical copy or dowload my EP on my website as well. At last fight for freedom and peace!