Only met my people now
Never touched my land till now
—Alya Isha, “diaSpoRia”
FPE Records is honored to announce the signing of South London poet, filmmaker, activist and musician Alya Isha.
Born and raised between Japan, London and Santiago de Cuba, the British, Indian-Mauritian and Swiss artist takes inspiration from this mix, collaborating with musicians from across the globe to create a new sound for a new world, dubbed Nu World Soul Music.
Alya’s debut single for FPE, “diaSpoRia”, flows from the first time she set foot on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. A moment of physical contact was the spark that kindled a fire of new perspective: blood long separated from the land now flowed through an adult witness. It’s a song of being in the place, of feeling the pull and desire of belonging, at once knowing the true meaning of colonisation, the continual, inevitable unfolding of consequence.
“diaSpoRia” is a collaboration with Reunionese producer Insula, whose work is an Afro-futurist fusion of Malagasy, maloya, and techno strains, blending culture, race and gender.
Being mixed heritage and growing up in Japan and then moving to London aged 10, I’ve always felt very confused about where I’m from.
I visited my ancestral lands for the first time in February. Reaching Mauritius and meeting my family was deeply grounding. Knowing, seeing, being, where you are from, has a deeply healing property. At the same time as I met much of my family there, I lost a very dear family member back home, my lovely grandmother: a proud community organiser, grower, environmentalist and writer. It was an extremely intense feeling, a rollercoaster of emotions – more than I could have ever imagined.
I was also incredibly lucky to collaborate with Babani Soundsystem and Insula there. They’ve been developing ancestral sounds from the Indian Ocean with more modern bass heavy sounds. Avneesh, the founder, opened his doors to me and I instantly felt at home. These sounds made so many of my previous musical interests make sense. The connection was profound, grounding, immediate.
At the same time I saw clearly how colonialism still impacted my island: almost 90% of land is owned by the families of previous French slave owners, colonizers, and barely any natural spaces are public property. Racial divides were also incredibly clear, and intrinsically linked to the land which had been made more accessible to different groups. Being an island where almost there were descendants of either enslaved people, indentured laborers, or owners of these peoples, the clarity of these divides, slapped you in the face in a way that they don’t in the base of the British empire (where actually the ancestors of many civilians, whilst some benefited from or were exploited by colonization, were not as directly involved).
DiaSpoRia was written from the space of these emotions. It embodies an energy we need, to protect our land, our people, our family – from exploitation, from destruction. It is a celebration of natural beauty and power, and an invitation for us to step into our own power.