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Light Leaks (for Sarah)

by yadayn

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Light Leaks 05:51
Nacht 05:06
Two by One 05:52


On the 9th of September 2022 my dear friend Sarah took her own life. We had known each other for ten years at that point. We met in September 2012 as fellow students of Arabic in Cairo and quickly became very close friends. For a short period of time we were also band mates. In 2012 I hadn’t quite decided yet whether yadayn should be an all instrumental project or not. I had written a few songs with vocals but have no real talent for singing myself, so when I heard that Sarah sang I asked her if she would like to try singing these songs. In the next months I would regularly cycle down to her apartment in Zamalek to practice. We ended up playing three gigs in Cairo: one in my living room for friends — it will always remain one of my favourite concerts ever — and two public gigs in Sufi Bookstore and Deena’s Hostel. After we both returned to Belgium we played two further gigs in Ghent and a very short support in Leuven for a gig by my band Zura Zaj. However, by the time I went to record my debut album I decided these songs didn’t quite fit with the other material I had written. Sarah and me remained close friends but we never played another concert together.

With her passing I revisited these songs and decided to finally make some proper recordings of two of them in her memory. The second and third tracks on this EP, "Nacht" and "Two by One”, are the two pieces that are most closely linked to her. "Two by One" was written while we were still in Cairo. "Nacht" was written a little later when we had returned to Belgium. I think we only performed it live once. A live performance of "Two by One" featuring Sarah on vocals can be found on my Vimeo, along with some other songs we played, mostly covers.

While singing these songs myself provided an outlet for my grief at first, it didn’t feel right for these recordings. In the end I decided to leave the vocals and lyrics out entirely. They are forever hers. Instead I played some rough approximations of the vocal lines on the grand piano of my girlfriend's father in Paris. I recorded the overdub in a single take a few weeks after he passed away as well. I never knew him as well as I knew Sarah, but in a small way these recordings are in his memory too.

The title track of this EP came to me in the weeks following Sarah’s death. Developing it into a song helped me through some of the worst moments of grief in those first weeks, so I felt it deserved a place on here. Some months after she passed away my girlfriend recommended me to read Victor Hugo’s poem "Demain dès l'aube." I was absolutely floored by it. Sarah never particularly liked French, so I asked our friend Amr Molham to read it in Arabic, a language she loved deeply. I am grateful for Amr's contribution and for the very particular light he was in Sarah's life.

The cover photograph was taken when Sarah was by my side on the island of La Palma in January 2019. My camera was suffering from light leaks at the time which resulted in a ghostly presence pervading many of my photographs. A little like how Sarah is all over these three songs although she wasn't alive anymore when I recorded them. A little like how pain kept seeping through her skin, resulting in such profound discomfort that together with mental illness it made her not want to live anymore.

Any proceeds of these recordings will be donated to charities working with refugees (Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen) and providing assistance for those struggling with suicidal thoughts (Zelfmoordlijn).


released January 9, 2023

All music played, recorded and mixed by yadayn.
Spoken word on "Light Leaks" performed and recorded by Amr Molham. Arabic translation of "Demain dès l'aube" taken from the Arabic Wikipedia devoted to the poem (translator unknown).
Mastered by Jimmy Van Rietvelde at Tiny Voices Studio.


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yadayn Brussels, Belgium

two hands + guitars, mostly

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