She's opened for Lil Wayne and performed on tour with Miguel in London. Yasmeen is on track to make a name for herself with her soulful voice.
Hometown: Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.
Where is your family from? My parents were born in Iraq and came to America in 1980.
Was your family always supportive of you singing? Fortunately, yes! My family has always been very supportive of my dream from a very young age. I grew up in a musical household. My dad aspired to be an Assyrian [and] Arabic artist, so he was always supportive. Until this day he supports my career and allows me to follow it wholeheartedly. I always catch my brother blasting my music on repeat and singing along to all the words; it's the best feeling knowing that your family is your biggest fan!
How long have you been singing? As cliché as this sounds, I've been singing my whole life. I grew up singing solos in front of my church and joined my school's choir, worship team, and the jazz band! Anything that involved music I wanted to be a part of! After high school in 2008, as I was entering Arizona State University, I knew that the only thing I was truly passionate [about] in life was music. This was the year that I met my manager, who is also my creative partner. Ever since we have been pursuing music and creating honest music that simply tells our life story.
Your new single "Said U Would" was released today. Can you tell us about it? I love my songs, but hate what they stand for. They mean everything to me and sometimes I wish they meant nothing.
What are some of the artists you have worked with? The first artist I ever opened up for was Lil Wayne. A few months later I opened up for Day 26 and J. Holiday. A few years later I opened up for Miguel in London, which was my first trip to Europe. That was extremely memorable and exciting. A few months prior to that show I began writing songs with incredible writers in Los Angeles, like Andre Merritt, Drew Scott, and Shane Stevens. Stevens and I wrote a song titled “Love Can’t Breathe,” which I ended up releasing out in the UK; I definitely hold that song dear to my heart - it’s a special one!
What are some artists you hope to work with in the future? Aside from my queen Beyonce, haha, I've been completely inspired by Emeli Sandé. Her writing ability is definitely one of my favorites in the industry and I would love to sit and write with her. She is able to tell a story well and her lyrics are so vivid. Seems like a lot of people don't care about lyrics anymore and I am the opposite. It is the first thing I am listening to, so I value lyrics so much! Tori Kelly and JoJo are also favorites. I'm blown away and a little obsessed with their vocals!
How does the situation concerning Assyrians and other minorities in the Middle East make you feel? It's beyond heartbreaking. I don't think there are words that could truly capture the pain of how we're all feeling. It’s terrible to see people of any faith persecuted. It’s terrible to see thousands of years of history destroyed. It is also unfortunate because the people committing these acts claim to do it in the name of God, but in my opinion there is no God who would condone that. The most important thing is to raise awareness for what is going on! Even after all our nation has been through, you would think that people would have a sense of understanding about matters in the Middle East, but many still have no idea! I believe that raising awareness will allow people to come together and stand for peace.
Has Assyrian music influenced your music in any way? More than anything, Assyrian music has challenged me. Most Assyrian and Arabic music is much more complex than the music we make. The time signatures are much more intricate and the vocalists sing in quarter tones a lot. This means the pitch is halfway between the usual notes of the chromatic scale we are used to. It’s pretty difficult to master honestly, because both musically and vocally it is challenging, but in the most beautiful way. It's been something that I've tried over and over to practice; I'm still trying to master the art of that beautiful tone because I think it would be amazing to incorporate into my music. It would add a different touch.
Do you listen to Assyrian music? Have a favorite artist? Of course! I love our music! We grew up listening to Assyrian and Arabic music, as my dad also sang in both languages. Aside from the great Sargon Gabriel, I'll be a bit biased and have to say my father's old recordings are my favorite! I still listen to it 'till this day and reminisce [about] my childhood.
You very proudly display your Christian faith; a Bible verse is posted on your Twitter bio. Was there a moment in which you really felt connected to God, or was your faith in Christ something you grew up with? Our faith is something we have grown up with and has always been in our household and amongst all our [relatives]. I really discovered my faith deeply after I graduated high school. I went to a Christian high school, so it was something that I was surrounded by everyday. After leaving a Christian setting, I developed a deeper understanding of my faith because I was forced to learn about it on my own. Your faith becomes tested outside of your little bubble and I found God most through those times.
Switching gears a bit, when can we expect new music from you? How about a music video? I am currently wrapping up my album, which is extremely exciting! I have spent six years developing my sound and my artistry, so to finally discover who I am as Yasmeen is so satisfying. I have really allowed myself to grow and give every part of who I am in this album. It has challenged me to work outside of my comfort zone. And with that came beautiful and honest things that I am ready to share with the world! "Said U Would" will be our first release and possibly a music video to follow… you'll just have to stay tuned for that.
Do you have any upcoming performances planned? Nothing as of yet. We have spent all of our time finalizing my first album. We plan to definitely perform a lot this summer!
What do you have planned next? We are wrapping up my first album! There is still no release date, but this is a collection of music that will totally be worth listening to. It’s honest music that all came from a real place in my life, which I think everyone can relate to. More than anything, people can relate to [it] honestly, even if they haven’t experienced the heartbreak that I write about in my songs - they can certainly relate to the honesty that is portrayed. Who relates to dishonesty? Right?
Where do you see yourself in five years? I would love to be on my second album release and on a world tour! Music has always been my dream and I won't settle until I am on a world tour sharing with thousands of people all the songs we have written and spent thousands of hours creating! Along with that, I pray to see a Grammy with my name on it. I already have my Grammy speech written out and I think it’s only time to finally read it out loud!
Portions of this interview have been edited.