It is hot and humid, tropical. The air is filled with the smell of gasoline. An onslaught of mopeds is zigzagging between cars and pedestrians. In Malé everything seems to be denser than in other capitals. What at a first glance appears to be total chaos turns out to be a well-ordered hustle and bustle with its own order. Just like in every other major city. Once you get the specific rhythm of Malé, everything seems pretty relaxed and you will even discover a few islands of total calm in the middle of everything. You can find them in charming cafés, small secluded parks or in the courtyards and gardens of residences. We are meeting the Maldivian songwriter and musician Fathima Nasheen, known as Fa’thu in one of those private oasis. Her whole family—from grandmother to grandchildren—live in a number of buildings around a lush garden.
The garden is a place where Fa’thu finds peace. She often escapes to it to write her lyrics. “This is my home. I am anchored here in our little oasis and it inspires me,” she says. How did she get into music? “My parents loved English pop and Bollywood songs. That really impressed me. When Karaoke became a thing here, my cousins, friends and I were all crazy about it. Then my sister got a guitar for her birthday and she allowed me to play with it. That was it. I learned it and started to write my own songs.” Obviously with great success, because she quickly got booked for gigs together with a local band.
How does she describe her style? “Versatile. I love to listen to many different styles, from Madonna to Metallica, from the Backstreet Boys to the Red Hot Chili Peppers “. She hesitates, she wants to stay that way, does not want to be categorized. “I think every song is about love. The absence of love creates negative emotions, the presence of love makes you feel happy”. Fa’thu picks up her guitar and starts to sing. “As Sweet as it gets” describes a happy, carefree, moon lite night by the sea with friends. Her soft voice takes you onto that beach, into the moment. Another song, „Ethered Ge“ is more melancholic and brings on goose bumps without even understanding the lyrics. It is her only song so far in Dhivehi, the Maldivian language. A wonderful piece that relates a deep feeling for the Maldives.