Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit and performer-composer Sheherazaad share a genre-defying evening in one of the country's earliest Unitarian congregational spaces.
About the artists
Japanese vocal performer hailing from distant Shiretoko in Hokkaido who now resides in London. Hatis Noit's accomplished range is astonishingly self-taught, inspired by everything she could find from Gagaku — Japanese classical music — and operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chanting, to avant-garde and pop vocalists.
It was at the age of 16, during a trek in Nepal to Buddha's birthplace, when she realised singing was her calling. While staying at a women’s temple in Lumbini, one morning on a walk Hatis Noit heard someone singing. On further investigation it was a female monk singing Buddhist chants, alone. The sound moved her so intensely she was instantly aware of the visceral power of the human voice; a primal and instinctive instrument that connects us to the very essence of humanity, nature and our universe.
The name Hatis Noit itself is taken from Japanese folklore, meaning the stem of the lotus flower. The lotus represents the living world, while its root represents the spirit world, therefore Hatis Noit is what connects the two. For Hatis Noit, music represents the same netherworld with its ability to move and transport us to the other side; the past, a memory, our subconscious.
Sheherazaad is an American performer-composer, whose contemporary folk-pop synthesis joins the new wave of South Asian diasporic soundscapes.
Native to the San Francisco Bay Area and brought up second-generation in an immigrant household, Sheherazaad gleans from Western classical and South Asian sonic lineages. Her contemporary voicing, though inherently genre-defiant, may be described as alternative folk or experimental ballad. Sheherazaad’s original lyricism modernises certain existing Hindi-Urdu poetic forms, channelling questions of displacement, mother tongue, imagined homelands, and beyond. Currently, she allows the experience of shifting between India and Brooklyn, NYC to shape her eccentric and hyphenated musical aesthetic.
Sheherazaad’s namesake is the revolutionary figure from the largely Middle Eastern and South Asian epic collection of folktales The One Thousand and One Nights, more commonly spelled Scheherazade. This major character’s storytelling prowess brings an end to the mindless genocide of women.
Expanding further, Sheherazaad says: “she has been a favourite and beloved character of mine since childhood for her ferocious storytelling ability that saves lives. Also, in Hindi and Urdu, Sheherazaad translates to ‘Free City’. I love the idea of a person, especially a woman, being a kind of ‘city’ entity in and of themselves. In the South Asian context, this idea of ‘sheher’ (city) is more visceral with metropolises historically being centres for innovation, forward-thinking, and more social mobility for women specifically.”