Interview: Montreal’s Joumana shares her thoughts on her career and sound ahead of AIM Festival This July!

This July 12-14th, music lovers will gather just 1 hour outside of Montreal, Canada to be immersed amongst music and nature for the 5th anniversary of AIM Electronic Music Festival. This year’s ‘Monolithes City‘ edition will offer 5 hour extended sets from John Digweed, ANNA, Danny Tenaglia and more, along with 5 stages to choose from offering house, techno, bass, and trance to satisfy your musical desires. Gearing up for her first AIM Festival performance is local Montreal artist Joumana. We had the chance to discuss her budding career, sound, experiences in the industry and her musical upbringing in this interview. Here is what she had to say…

With your debut in May 2018, what have you found to be the challenges of being a newer artist in the current music scene, especially in Montreal where there is constantly new talent?

Being an up-and-coming artist in the current music scene has definitely had its challenges. With my debut in 2018, I only knew a few people in the music scene here. I listened to a lot of music, and went out sometimes, but I was not actively involved in the scene. I would say my main challenge was (and still is) to get out and show people my sound. I was lucky to have my mentor, OKIN, whom I met at DJ School Montreal. He talked a lot about me to friends in the music scene, especially when I started DJing. As an artist, I aim for every gig and every mix to be better than the previous one, which leads me to pressure myself to perform all the time. Another challenge I face every day is developing my sound, although I try not to limit myself to one specific genre I am still getting to know myself as an artist. Meeting people who are a part of the music scene was intimidating at times. I kind of felt like an imposter at the beginning, and I had to work on my confidence. I felt like I always needed to know everything, and I was once again putting too much pressure on myself. I need to keep reminding myself that what matters the most is to go at my own pace. 

You grew up playing the piano and signing, how do you feel that your musical upbringing has inspired you in your artistic journey? 

Growing up playing the piano and singing helped a lot in developing my musical ear. I did not really notice it until I started DJing. It helps me to select the right tracks to play, and to create a flowing journey for the listeners and dancers. I had been playing the piano for 9 years when I stopped to take singing lessons. I was aiming for a singing career at that time (I was 14). While in college, I slowly lost track of it, but DJing was always at the back of my mind. I still have my piano at home but restarted playing it only recently. Reconnecting with it has brought me peace. It enabled me to want to learn to play more instruments which I hope to bring into my DJing career. I want to re-ignite that side of me. My project for the rest of the year is to start producing and having learned music theory will help ease me into the process. 

Having Lebanese roots and growing up in Montreal both defined who I am. Because of that, it’s important for me to incorporate it in my sound.”

Have you been to AIM festival in the past? If so, did you ever imagine yourself playing at the festival? As an emerging artist from Montreal, how do you believe performing at AIM festival will affect your career? 

Last year was my first time attending AIM Festival. I told myself that it would be crazy to play there one day. I would have never thought it would be a year later! Having the opportunity to play at AIM Festival is huge. Not only it is renowned internationally, and well respected, but it’s the festival’s fifth-year anniversary, and amazing talented artists are on the lineup. From what I noticed last year, I remember the crowd’s vibe was amazing. There is no doubt it will help my career by exposing my music to a larger audience, and by giving me the opportunity to experience performing in a different venue from the ones I am used to. 

How do you incorporate your Lebanese culture into your music? 

Having Lebanese roots and growing up in Montreal both defined who I am. Because of that, it’s important for me to incorporate it in my sound. When I hear Arabic sounds and melodies, I am inevitably drawn to them and they shake me down to my core. I usually will incorporate a few tracks at key moments during my sets.

Who are some of your musical inspirations, and how does their sound help you develop yourself as an artist? 

My main musical inspiration when I started DJing was Black Coffee. His music, and him as an artist, really spoke to me. Nicole Moudaber is also an inspiration to me. I then discovered so many artists while looking for new music. Kora, Elfenberg, Hrag Mikkel, Cee ElAssaad and Brian Cid are a few of my favourites right now. Their sounds inspire me and help me to select tracks for my sets, as I use them as references depending on the vibe I like to create. I try to find music that flows well with the specific sound I’m looking for, not only as a DJ but also as a future producer. When We Dip XYZ, Melomania Records, MoBlack Records, Seres Producoes, and Sol Selectas are also some of the labels I actively follow. 

Joumana will be performing at the official AIM stage on Saturday July, 13th… you can purchase ticket to the festival here.

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