Listen to Samina Saifee's music here! She recently released her new song "Prom."
For you personally, what have you experienced as a POC in the music scene (either good or bad). What’s your perspective on POC in the scene?
I’ve just joined the scene to be honest, so I’m not completely sure. People in my South Asian/Muslim community are always excited and supportive when I tell them about my music, and that’s been very comforting. I know that not every POC artist has that.
I’ve been seeing more and more artists of color rising up from all backgrounds and it’s really great to see. But I also think that because of identity politics, a sense of competition immediately arises when you see someone who shares your background in this field. We worry that someone else might take the “spot” that we were vying for when in reality it doesn’t work that way. Cheryl Strayed wrote that “someone else’s success has absolutely no bearing on your own,” and I think that’s important to remember. We should aspire to lift each other up as we rise.
What inspired you to work in the music industry and what do you hope to achieve?
There’s a bit of a high you get when you perform in front of people, right after the initial nerves fade. And there’s no greater feeling than finishing a song that means so much to you. That's why I started getting serious about music. Everything I write is incredibly personal, and if what I write can stay with someone or bring them comfort or joy or something to listen to on a difficult day, I’d be content.
Growing up, did you feel like there was a good amount of representation for you in the media and/or music scene? If you had someone who you looked up to or still look up to, whether they’re a musician or not, who is this person?
Not at all. When you don’t see anyone who looks like you in a field that’s based heavily on image, you don’t even consider it as a possibility. You don’t even dream about it because it feels so foreign. The entertainment industry is already so mystified. It was only when I got older and learned a bit more about how everything works that I became more confident in pursuing music. Grimes is an artist I look up to a lot. I think she started out in music when she was 20 and she didn’t know how to play any instruments or much about music in general. She taught herself everything she knows.
What are some ways non-POC allies can support POC?
Listen to our music. If you’re a producer/blogger/etc make sure you’re promoting quality music that comes from people of diverse backgrounds. That’s inclusivity.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Two things - First, it is never too early to drop the word “aspiring” from how you see yourself. Just create. That makes you an artist. Everything else will come with time. Second, find people who share your interests, whether that’s through social media (FB/IG pages, etc) or through your circles. Connect with them and support each other. It makes the entire process so much easier.