Meet the ones with an AGENDR!
These are persons who are movers and shakers in the industry, changing the face of sound….
and ROCKING IT!
Every month we feature someone new who is doing their part to educate, empower and create awareness of women, girls, non binary, trans and gender non conforming persons in the audio and AV industry in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region.
10 Questions with Ms. Mohhammed
1) So tell us a bit about yourself, your move from Trinidad and life in the UK.
It’s been quite the journey! I actually moved to NY first from TT as a teenager that was where the love affair with guitar music began! Then back to Trinidad before finally settling in London to study music production. My brother lived here before me so it made the transition quite smooth. It was pretty exciting moving to the homeland of some of my favourite artists and biggest influences.
2) This may be a loaded question, but where did it all begin for you and music? Give us some insight into who you listened to, where you drew inspiration from and the moment you realized you wanted to do it full time.
I think I came out of the womb wanting to play guitar! I was obsessed with the idea for as long as I can remember. My mum would make me guitar shaped birthday cakes. I would turn everything into a guitar. Tennis rackets, cricket bats, anything until I could get my hands on the real deal.
So it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment of inspiration but seeing Courtney Love play, scream and growl her way through Violet as a kid made me realise the sound and energy I wanted to evoke. That rebel WITH a cause, unapologetic feminist badass attitude as well! I was like yeah I need an electric guitar and a distortion pedal stat!
She blew my tiny mind with that VMA performance! The power!
3) I know you've undergone a name change from "Dana Jade" to "Ms. Mohammed" during your musical career. Tell us a bit about why you made that change and if the music changed along with the name.
OK shameless plug here but my best answer for this question lies in my Tedx London performance “Authenticity Over Assimilation” which was a huge honour and also the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done!
In it I talk about my process from Dana Jade to Ms. Mohammed and how it ties in to my personal journey of self acceptance and unapologetic self love. Which of course involves fearlessly bringing my whole self to the music. Elements of Trinidad and my South Asian ancestry began to show up much more forcefully.
4) You are an outspoken activist for marginalized communities. How have you personally dealt with the many barriers and obstacles as an out, gay, immigrant, female musician and creator?
Oh my god the barriers! Wipes brow*
I often joke that when I experience prejudice that I often can’t tell what kind or what combination of isms or phobias I’m experiencing! I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy in the middle of these intersections. This world isn’t kind to misfits, outsiders and anything other than common, normal and boring. I’m learning everyday not to internalise these attitudes. I’ve had and still need lots of therapy! But as hard as it has been I wouldn’t change a single thing about myself for the privilege of blending in.
5) I would describe your sound as, "punk-rock meets Madonna on a jouvert mornin" to someone who asks... how would you describe your current sound?
Ogadoye!! Dat is a fyah description! I only hope I can do it justice!
The new music I’m working on is in between genres. Which is where I’m most comfortable. I prefer not to be tied to categories anyway. But all of my influences and heritages make an appearance in the sound from Trinidad to New York, India to London it’s all in there. I often describe it as Alternative fusion or Island punk. My bro calls it Soca Punk. I think there’s a whole lot of the Blues in there too.
6) What new projects are you working on now and what motivated you to embark on these projects?
Besides finishing the album I’ve recently been working on a collaboration with an artist I love and respect called Sarathy Korwar for the Oxford University affiliated Tide project. Which is about the perception of “foreigners” and the words used over the last few centuries to describe them/us.
Obviously as an immigrant I’m interested in these very relevant themes and they have been part of my previous work.
The lyrics I’ve written are almost entirely in Trinidad dialect and my main inspiration for them has been the traditional carnival character: the Midnight Robber. It’s very experimental, especially for me as a control freak solo artist, attempting to collaborate again but it has been hugely rewarding to approach music in an entirely different way than I normally do. Sarathy has been an absolute superstar & dream to work with as I expected.
7) What's a day in the life of Ms. Mohammed? You can give me a pre and post covid-19 answer for this.
Well I used to have to rehearse a whole lot more before all this. Live music is on pause for the foreseeable which has pushed me into thinking of alternative ways to keep busy and hopefully evolve. I’m doing an online course based on attachment styles and it has been an illuminating look into the subconscious mind and exactly how much it is running the show! Check out Thais Gibson’s videos on YouTube. Honestly, life altering!
I also cook a whole lot more for my social bubble and I’m even learning how to make roti and fry bake! Play wit me! There’s no way I would’ve had the time to practice before now. My dog also demands a certain amount of time and energy from my day. Bless her!
8) Another loaded question- What do you hope to accomplish in the next 3- 5 years?
Big question! This moment in time has really made me stop and think about what the hell life really is about and who I am without “what I do”. It has also made clear the fact that life is completely unpredictable. ‘(Wo)man plans and God laughs’ as the saying goes. It really makes you take stock of what is absolutely important.
For me that is about prioritising joy in as many forms as possible. Music will always be part of that for me.
9) How often do you visit Trinidad and Tobago (was very cool to 'bounce up' randomly on Pigeon Point in February!) and can we expect a show the next time you're in town?
Imagine! We had the same carnival agenda!
So great to meet you girl (@Megan)! I just read your story on Agendr omg I really felt it in my heart! It’s so much like my own experience of music and coming out. We must link up when all of this is over and compare notes and battle scars. Love & Solidarity to you sis!
Sorry I digress.... Yes every other year or so we make it down to see my mum and famalay. I am missing my fave Trinis quite a lot right now!
Hmm, I would love to play home again. Yes that would be fun. Why? You know a good promoter??
10) Finish this sentence... "I am... enough”