Mariam Sawires breaks down every track on her debut EP, ‘The Healer’

mariam sawires

Last week, Egyptian/Australian Mariam Sawires delivered her powerful debut EP, ‘The Healer’. Following a decade of collecting life experience across borders and continents, she’s delivered an EP with strong sentiment via her evident wisdom and class as a songwriter. It reflects a central message of healing, a testament to learning through experience and always coming through to the other side of any significant moment or challenge.

The EP features a tracklist of neo-soul and R&B tinged ballads. Raised in a family of music lovers, Sawires channels her early musical listenings from the likes of Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and Queen and brings them into her own developed sonic world. From cascading harps, soulful melodies and weightless percussion, the musical foundation laid perfectly accompanies Mariam’s vocal delivery. Her earthy top line is guided by instinct and sentiment, layered perfectly in each and every track.

Of ‘The Healer’s’ release, Mariam reflects “This EP was produced and finalised during a period where I took time to process my experiences and channel it into my music and art. Personally, The Healer symbolises a bright new chapter in my life: one of freedom and choice, of growth and healing after pain and hardship. In this time, I’ve gone from not trusting to trusting myself, others and life – and I feel peaceful within myself now. I am very grateful for the lessons learned and I am more determined to listen to my heart and intuition with my music and with the relationships I keep around me.”

To get to know the EP even better, we grabbed Mariam Sawires to talk through each individual track, their creation, sentiment and everything in between.

The Garden
The intention behind this song was to explore the essence of my artistry and Egyptian roots. It was a very spontaneous track as I improvised the chords on piano and harp. I wanted to capture the sounds and essence of what felt right in the moment. I recorded my mother’s voice to reflect my Egyptian roots as she described her garden in arabic (hence the title of the track ‘The Garden’). I combined the ethereal angelic sound of the harp with piano and vocals to create a soundscape that sonically felt like ‘home’ ‘to me. The EP begins with this song to introduce the listener to a frequency that is a melting pot of my Egyptian ancestry and my instruments before embarking on the journey. ‘The Garden’ represents the raw beauty in imperfection as the whole track was improvised on harp and recorded in my apartment in between sounds of the light rail passing and shaking the building. That’s what I like about it. 

Meaning of Our Love
Sitting on a desk in a 1700th century chateau in France, I had a fast paced tempo click and some repeated chords on Logic Pro beat away when I blurted out the words ‘You do exercises then recognise that you aint ready for love’. I was shocked at how quickly the rest of the song came. Who was I talking about? What was I trying to express? I didn’t know at the time but I allowed the lyrics to flow out easily… In between finishing verses and the bridge over the next few days on my laptop, I would take walks in the nearby forests and walk around the grandiose rooms in the castle staring at painted portraits of the people who had lived there in the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. This magical isolated castle in France became my writing space to compose new music as I eagerly channelled the energy around me. From the libraries, I learnt about the stories of women and men from the past and compared it to my life and current relationships, which ultimately transformed and gave meaning to the song. A sense of spirituality was potent throughout the building and it has always been a very important element in my life. This is translated in the chorus of the song where I began asking a higher power for clarity about ‘love’ and the meaning of our expression here as humans. I established the groove, beat, and baseline when I returned to Australia after rehearsing the song with my band for two headline sell out shows in Sydney. I performed the song in a stripped back jazz format until it was finally recorded as a demo at Linear Studios in 2019 and later produced and mixed by Konstantin Kersting in his studio Queensland. Using influences like Anderson .Paak, H.E.R., Daniel Caesar and SZA and SiR, the song collected a stronger electronic beat and many vocal layers. It was finally mastered in 2021 with Jack Prest in Sydney.

Trust
Around the time I wrote this song I was settling back in Sydney after a long period living abroad in Berlin, France, Colombia, Japan and Egypt between 2012-2018. I had begun reconnecting with old friends and found myself caught up in an old drama of a very close friend of mine. Her complicated relationship became the source of inspiration behind the meaning of the song ’Trust’. I channeled her shift from a constant approach of fear to finally trusting herself and the man she loved for years. During this time, I was obsessed with the artist H.E.R. and became inspired to experiment and explore my voice’s lower register. Before writing my melody, I found a beat loop that I liked in Logics Pro’s loop library and based the song around the loop – hence the strong rhythmic essence within the melodies. I wanted to express the emotional vulnerability felt within relationships and that courage of finally letting go and trusting oneself and the other. I produced a first demo on Logic Pro before recording with a proper band in the studio. In 2019, I finalised the song with Konstantin Kersting in Queensland who helped me further sonically explore the strength in vulnerability in the music by allowing me to record deep sub bass, more vocals, electronic sounds and a double vocal layer to strengthen some of the lyrics within the song. It was finally mastered by Jack Prest in Sydney in 2021.

Healer
‘Healer’ came to me as I was washing the dishes with a heavy heart in my apartment in France at the end of 2018. I had been trying to cope with my grief over the last months and began to express the words ‘I’m so sorry I cannot control my anxiety’ over the kitchen sink before rushing to my piano. ‘Healer’ became my source of creative flow and healing as the song is about finding my own source of inner peace and inner healer during dark turbulent unsettling times. Essentially, the song transcended a very painful chapter of my life into something creative and even beautiful. The message and intention behind the song is that listeners can have the opportunity to channel their ‘inner healer’ and find ways of turning their light on in dark times. After writing the first verses of the song, I booked a flight to Egypt to visit my grandparents who welcomed me with open arms in their home. Spending time with them and asking them questions about life, I realised that one’s connection to their roots and ancestry is a huge part of healing and your life’s journey or path. My grandparents have always been a source of joy, love, happiness, healing, nurture and connection in life and through their company and energy I was able to complete writing the rest of the song. I sang the song live a few times with a band and felt it didn’t need many layers of huge electronic production. It was nice, raw and untouched. I recorded it with a live band and self produced the rest with Jack Prest who mixed and mastered the final production in Sydney.

Re-member
Essentially in this track I wanted listeners to feel a sense of transcendence and healing after embarking a sonic journey and listening to the whole EP. Much like in life where we learn lessons and overcome them, I wanted a spiritual reminder in this track that we are more than just our bodies moving through time but that we are energetic beings that chose to come here and belong to the same source. The song evokes a calling to ‘remember’ that you are more than you think you are and that you belong in the vastness of all that is. The end ‘spiralling up’ sound is an invitation to transcend higher and ‘leave your troubles behind.’ It is coming home but also the end of the journey. 

Image Via Koblah Photography

Words by Parry Tritsiniotis

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Parry Talks, and also writes.