A journey into sound: an interview wit’ Fiyawata

Zakiya and Ambessa the Articulate of Fiyawata

By Minister of Information JR

They say that balance is the key to the universe, yet there are only a few groups in Hip Hop that include male and female musicians. Fiyawata is the only one that I know of locally, and they are good at what they do. They are not just a group, but a family, and also business partners. One is from the extreme climate of New York, while the other is from the California sunshine of the Bay Area.

The mixture of all these opposites in two individuals creates a musical blend that one can hear on Fiyawata’s newest release, “This is a Journey Into Sound Volume 1,” which includes those rapid fire flows of Ambessa the Articulate along with the earthy vocals of the very talented Zakiya. I definitely encourage you to buy this alternative indie Hip Hop album, especially if you are tired of the same 10 songs played to death on commercial radio. Check out my peoples, Fiyawata.

MOI JR: Who does Fiyawata consist of?

Zakiya: At present Fiyawata consists of Ambessa the Articulate and Zakiya Harris, me and him. We’re currently reforming a band, so our look might change, but for now we just got the Osiris-Isis kinda rock, ya know.

MOI JR: When and how did the group begin?

Ambessa: About eight years ago, we were involved in a few music groups and projects in New York. Close friends at the time, we started to get each other booked at different shows and in promoting ourselves to get on the same bill as a movement, we finally decided to form a group. This was after a close friend of ours said we performed well together, while doing one of my songs on stage. We saw the vision and tried it and eight years later we release our second project. 

MOI JR: How would you describe Fiyawata’s sound?

Ambessa: Traditionally we’ve called our music Dub-HipHop-Soul, but our latest sounds include a lot more rock, ambient and acid jazz. We’re pushing past our own limits. I don’t know – we have even been playing around with some jungle. The world will hear the finished product probably in a year, so for now you could call our sound unlimited or Dub-HipHop-Soul if you must insist. 

MOI JR: With one of you being bred in the West and one in the East, how does that affect your group’s sound?

Zakiya: Our different coastal origins has always added more to our music than taken away. We tend to like the same kind of sounds and that helps our compositions. We both enjoy different elements of East and West. Ambessa can’t hang with some West Coast underground shit and I don’t dig the more cliche New York hard rock shit, but we both stretch and keep it Hip-Hop at the end of the day.

MOI JR: Is it hard to deal with a masculine and feminine energy in a group, considering that there are a lot of all male or all female groups? What has that experience been like?

Ambessa: Of course it is. I like some crass real gully emcee shit that Za does not care for. Being a vocalist, sometime some of her creations are too songy for me. But we take leads on different songs and sometime she’ll go a hard direction, while I’ll get mad musical and out there. So after some time of rubbing off on each other, our challenges come more from being a group and a married couple than necessarily consisting of a male or female.

MOI JR: Can you also speak on being in a relationship with your group member? How does that affect the dynamics? How do y’all deal with groupies? Do y’all get jealous over the attention from the opposite sex that is given to your partner after y’all rock?

Zakiya: Music heals a lot of our inner strife. Being together though, the lines are sometimes blurred and if we’re beefing as a couple a song may take longer to make. If we’re beefing musically, then it’ll bleed into the relationship, but for some reason our musical differences help us bang shit out faster – go figure. Groupies we pretty much ignore ‘em. Ambessa gets more trippy than I do though but not too much.

MOI JR: Who are some of Fiyawata’s musical influences?

Zakiya: Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, The Roots, Native Tongues, Juice Crew, Kweli, Mos, Lauren, Erykah, Stevie Wonder, it goes on and on. Shit, good ass music

MOI JR: What’s next for Fiyawata?

Zakiya: We’ve just dropped “This Is a Journey into Sound, Volume 1.” “Volume 2” is coming end of summer. Can’t forget our Grind for the Green event all summer. Grind for the Green is a four-part eco music festival for youth by youth we’re producing throughout San Francisco this summer. Also after a gang of shows in The Bay this month, we’ll be doing two project release parties in June – one SF, one Oakland, close knit for the fam – and we’re rocking a few joints out of town.

MOI JR: Do you have any ways that people can check you out – myspace, website etc.?

Zakiya: Definitely: www.myspace.com/fiyawatacrew and destinednationmedia@gmail.com.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com, hiphopwarreport.com and myspace.com/blockreportfilm.