Poetry, melody and lyrics are all intermingled by Layla Khodjasteh and Dana Dajani, the Floetics duo that seek to explore the possibilities of song poetics
It’s a Thursday night in Dubai and Layla Khodjasteh and Dana Dajani have just walked on stage, their smiles shared easily with an audience eager to hear them perform. Natural, graceful and backed by the rhythms of funk, reggae and neo-soul, their fusion of song and spoken word is a rarity for Dubai, not only in terms of musicality but also in terms of delivery.
Khodjasteh’s voice is deep and soulful, while Dajani’s words are delivered with theatrical flair. Together they are the vocalists of Floetics, a collaboration of poetry, melody and lyrics – ‘an experimental riff on rhythm and rhyme’.
The origins of Floetics stem from Khodjasteh, who originally approached Dajani at Sikka Art Fair in 2012, seeking to add a poetic element to her musical performances by bringing the world of spoken word into her repertoire of song.
“Singing is a very important part of who I am,” says Khodjasteh. “It’s part of my identity, an art form through which I can tell my stories and express my heart’s desires, but also a form of therapy where the musical vibrations elevate me. Combining Dana’s poetry has taken that to another level for me."
"There are times where we are on stage performing, moving to the beat, and I’m so taken away by the depth and weight of Dana’s lyrics and the musical delivery that I feel so moved. If we can move ourselves during our performance, we only hope that we have touched the audience too. And that’s what it’s all about – sharing the passion and energy we build on stage with an open and receptive audience.”
Floetics have added a playful and relaxed sound to the Dubai music scene, performing gigs at The Music Room, Jazz@Pizza Express, District Lounge, Freshly Ground Sounds and DIFC Art Nights. An album – Freeflowlive – has also come to life.
“I never really had an aim with Floetics besides discovering ways in which to elevate my spoken word with Layla’s song,” admits Dajani. “The experience was a musical education for me – I learned from talented and skilled musicians how to explore rhythm and perform in a context different to those I am used to as an actress and as a poet.
“Over the past three years, inspiration came from a great song we could ‘poeticise’ and old journals were a source of lyrical inspiration in creating original songs from poems I’d written over the past decade. Because of this Freeflowlive is not a fully conceptualised album – it is rather a compilation of select Floetics originals created in Dubai.”
Dajani describes Floetics as an exploration of what’s possible with song and spoken word, with the duo backed by Ansar Ul Haq on guitar, Jeremiah John on percussion and Julien Lafforgue on bass. Theirs is a fresh and vibrant sound, with Dajani’s spoken word embracing hope, love, empathy, the positive and the divine, the metaphorical and the whimsical. Combined with Khodjasteh’s more forceful voice, stature and posture, the end result is frequently striking.
“I’d like to realise a fully stylised story album written with Layla – now that we’ve established a voice and know our process,” says Dajani. “Spoken word is such a timeless art form. Our ancient orators and our B-Boy ciphers – these are the people who pass on stories and meaning. Music elevates the soul, so it is in line with the manifestos of Layla and I to continue to explore and create musical floetic experiences that represent us.”