Idrees: The Music and The MessageShare
by: Eman Shurbaji
Eman Shurbaji is a feature journalist from California. One of her interests includes the arts, and she is always on the lookout for underrepresented and burgeoning talent. She became acquainted with Idrees upon attending events in Fresno, Calif., his hometown. She sat down to speak to Idrees about his message and sources of inspiration.
Idrees. He’s a West-coast artist with a national and international flair, doing various types of rapping and music producing. His debut album, Scratch the Surface, is available for purchase through his website (http://idrees.com), iTunes, and Amazon. His videos have surpassed a collective view count of half a million views on YouTube. And, just this past year, he began working on a new video producing series entitled Beats Anatomy. A young man recently turned 24, he brings forth his experience as a Muslim American, while addressing real life stories. Idrees’ aim is to connect to people’s struggles, aspirations, and daily lives, using these points to address culture and religion.
The son of Pakistani immigrant parents, this Fresno-based artist has traveled the country, performing for progressive groups at universities and venues. His work recently went international last year, after having performed in the UK.
When not composing beats in the recording studio, he works at the Valley Air District. Idrees attained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from California State University, Fresno in 2010.
Idrees sat down with Elevate Culture, and told us of his experience as a performing and lyrical artist, and what he hopes listeners can gain from his music.
Who are these groups that you’ve performed for? How was the experience?
I’ve performed for different groups in universities. Progressive college students usually have spoken word events, where they bring in other musicians, too. They’re always looking for artists, and bring us in from all over the US.
I love the vibe and attitude of people watching us perform. There’s no other feeling like it; it’s very exhilarating and your adrenaline is pumping. You’re pouring out everything you have to say and people are relating to it.
How do people know you exist, and about your music?
It’s mostly through word-of-mouth, and in most cases people learn more after a show or through friends as well as family members. My topics are very relevant to listeners, who have similar goals and interests in life. People are also likely to share my music with their colleagues, and they like my Facebook Page or write an email to show their gratitude.
Speaking of Facebook, how did you get so many fans on your page (currently at 11, 112 fans)?
I had a lot of support in many other cities besides my own. I was also involved on campus while in college and worked with different universities as a student organization representative. I’ve also been covered in different magazines and people have done pieces about me, so it’s pretty cool to see a lot of people taking interest in the real life messages I convey.
Tell us a bit about your album, Scratch the Surface, and future plans.
Right now, I perform songs from my album Scratch the Surface and a few other songs, too. I’m working on another album, and it’s set to release in 2014.
Scratch the Surface came out in 2011, and I wrote it over the span of five years. I wrote it throughout my college time, about my different experiences interacting with different people, thinking about the world, reflecting, and learning about myself. One of my best friends produced the majority of the album while I produced the rest. It’s called Scratch the Surface because our bodies are surfaces that we show to the world. Each experience we go through is a ‘scratch’ expressing the thoughts, feelings and emotions we go through in our lives.
Elevate Culture works for the betterment of artists such as yourself. What do you think is the responsibility of first-generation minority artists?
I think it’s important for Muslims to represent all aspects of life. Our culture is very rich, and we should not be secluding any positive thought we have to share.
A lot of it has to do with us coming in as the children of first generation immigrants, as we are taught not to put ourselves out there. Yet, we realize that we have something artistic in us, and it can be put to use. If we build on our creativity, we can showcase our talents and create a positive forum for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, Muslims have a lot to bring to the American arts scene.