Influence is always an intricately woven affair where provenance is hard to decipher. A fine artist by training – having achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago –, Zeynab Marwan took to producing via a computer in 2016 having found herself in amongst the city’s DIY-noise scene. Whilst originally from Beirut – Thoom is the Arabic name for a Lebanese garlic sauce – and currently living in Berlin, her output crossbreeds all three locales to act as a soundtrack to her own nomadic lifestyle – conspicuously so through the field recording style samples used by herself, and twins Chuck and Ike Clateman, throughout Pork.
Besides location and scene exposure, there is her artistic familial bloodline that ties closely into her work. Sister and actor Yumna Marwan (featured on the upcoming Sky Atlantic series Little Birds) shot and directed her video for حركت السكوت (No Speech); Zeynab wrote the lyrics to Shaytan with her mother whilst she has noted her grandmother’s own musical flair. Even her dad was waking her up to the likes of Dido and the Soap Kills. Creativity, and a general appreciation of the arts, appear to be a running fixture in Marwan family.
More important than any influence is the commitment and foresight to craft your own artistic vision – something Thoom appears to have in abundance. As she proclaims, “I will always do things my own way.” Released via her own label, Career Whore, her debut LP sees her serenade from the background as her spacious vocals are mixed into the shadowy crashes, off-kilter guitar loops and subtle electronic surges. By contrast to her 2017 Blood and Sand EP that was teeming with outrage, Pork’s softer, guitar-laced palette is coupled with greater introspection as if the raucous Thoom of old had been re-moulded in the space-rock stylings of Duster. Despite what some fans and commentators may desire from their favourite artists, personal and artistic growth often leads to sonic changes like these, and Thoom is a case in point. Don’t expect the same on her next release, but appreciate the album in front of you now.
Over email, Thoom talks to METAL about her craft, Pork’s new direction and her artistic lineages. Since our conversation, Lebanon’s populace has been devastated by a large explosion in Beirut – causing destruction in a circumference larger than Greater London. With the epicentre located at Beirut’s port – that Lebanon is reliant on for many imports, including food –, this has profoundly compounded the financial collapse and political unrest we talk about below. To donate, volunteer and more - click here. Furthermore, in light of these events, Zeynab has decided a large portion of the money collected from Pork shall be donated to causes helping to rebuild Beirut.