New releases from UAE-based artists Alexis, Saffron

Dubai-based teenage singer-songwriter Saffron. (Supplied)
Updated 11 February 2019

New releases from UAE-based artists Alexis, Saffron

  • Here are the new releases from UAE-based music artists
  • Alexia and Saffron are both under Universal MENA deals

DUBAI: R&B singer-songwriter and producer Alexis has released her sophomore album “This Is Me…” on Universal Music MENA — her first record for the label and almost a decade on from the release of her debut album, 2010’s “Speak Love Life Lessons,” which was released by EMI, and which spawned an album of remixes — “Speak Loud” — in 2014.
Alexis told Arab News that she comes from a family with “roots in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula” and that she remembers growing up with the music of Umm Kulthum playing in the house. She found herself drawn to female vocalists.
“There was something about powerful women and the effect of song that really resonated with me, and it stuck with me,” she said.
Her mainly self-produced album (“Love Will…” is a collaboration with Grammy-winning producers Carvin & Ivan) is, according to the label, “a suite of material that gives an unambiguous and candid view into her life,” imbuing “her signature R&B vocals across Middle Eastern rhythms, trap beats, bluegrass banjos and symphonic string arrangements.”

“This Is Me…” was released last Friday, and Alexis said she has already received feedback from people in the US, Africa, the Middle East, Spain, the Far East, and Russia. Audience response is one of the things she most appreciates about her music career, she explained.
“It’s a communion that is like nothing else. I love that something that comes from just a dream or a thought can affect people that I don’t know from such diverse backgrounds. That still amazes me. And I don’t think I will ever become jaded about it,” she said. “That’s powerful.”
Another Universal MENA artist, Dubai-based teenage singer-songwriter Saffron (Collins) recently released her latest single, “I Liked You.” Musically, Saffron told Arab News, the track was inspired by Colombian-American artist Kali Uchis’ “Dead To Me,” particularly that song’s “catchy drum and bass line.”
As for the lyrics, she expained: “The song delves into the reality of rejection and how having a crush can make you feel so good and so awful at the same time.”
Both “This Is Me…” and “I Liked You” are out now on all major digital music platforms.

Stars of the 'The Kitchen' movie talk to Arab News

“The Kitchen,” stars Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Domhnall Gleeson. (Supplied)
Updated 22 August 2019

Stars of the 'The Kitchen' movie talk to Arab News

DUBAI: “The Kitchen,” starring Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Domhnall Gleeson, is an ode to the ever-popular gangster movie, but also a reimagining. Three women who can’t pay the bills after their mobster husbands go to prison decide to take over the organization themselves — becoming violent criminals in the process. Gone is the Don, in his place are the Donnas.

“I love mobster movies, they’re some of my favorite movies, but I think I always watched them and thought, ‘Where am I in that story? Where am I represented?’ I never am. The opportunity to put those two things together — a real authentic, gritty mob story that has interesting, flawed, human women at the center of it felt like an incredible opportunity,” writer/director Andrea Berloff tells Arab News.

Andrea Berloff at the premier of "The Kitchen" in Hollywood. (AFP)

In casting, Berloff went against type — McCarthy and Haddish are best-known for comedic roles, and Gleeson’s roles in “Star Wars” and the Oscar-nominated “Brooklyn” suggested anything but a gangster.

“If I’d read the script I wouldn’t have thought of me for the role, so I was thrilled that Andrea for some reason thought that I could do a good job. The good ones are a surprise to you as opposed to something you track down — or that’s the way it’s been for me so far. I never thought I’d really want to play a killer in a mob movie. When this script came along, that’s what I found a bit scary and interesting,” says Gleeson.

Domhnall Gleeson at the premier of "The Kitchen" in Hollywood. (AFP)

Like Berloff, Moss has always loved the genre — especially the women in legendary projects such as “The Godfather” and “The Sopranos.” While the women of “The Kitchen” are different in many ways from those groundbreaking characters, they carry on their spirit.

“It’s something that we’ve seen in various mobster projects. With Diane Keaton and Edie Falco, and these incredible portrayals, I always find them the most interesting parts of those projects — to see the effect that that lifestyle has on women is really interesting,” Moss tells Arab News.

Elisabeth Moss loved the genre of the movie. (AFP)

McCarthy wasn’t as focused on the history of women in crime fiction as her co-star. Instead, the character and the script were rich enough that she was able to link it to her own life quite easily.

“I didn’t reference other movies,” she says. “For me, when a script it that good, and that complete, and that fully realized, I try to delve into the character itself. I thought about how I related as a mother of two, and what does that mean when you’re just trying to survive and try to take care of your kids. I don’t look to other movies as a guide — I’m a big movie fan, but I prepare a little more solo.”

Tiffany Haddish at the premier of "The Kitchen" in Hollywood. (AFP)

“I’m the same way,” says Haddish.

“It just seemed easy. It’s that great thing. Especially with Andrea running the ship, we all saw the same movie, which was really great, and we all naturally get along,” says McCarthy.

 Melissa McCarthy at the premier of "The Kitchen" in Hollywood. (AFP)

This is Berloff’s debut as a director (she was nominated for an Oscar for writing the 2016 hit “Straight Outta Compton”) and she hadn’t originally planned on helming the movie herself. But she found she felt so passionate about the story that she wanted to oversee the whole project.

“There are times when I write a script and I’m happy to hand it off to someone else and let them run with it, but in this case I felt like I had so much more to say about these characters, and this world, and these themes,” she explains. “I went in to pitch as a director and started saying to them, ‘Here’s what’s not in the script that you don’t know.’”