2011 teaching my mother how to give birth
... emilyne mondo's role
Her story started in 1991 when she was born to a country on the cusp of a war. Her parents were both educated and respected in their local community, a nurse and a university teacher, and though they tried to persevere it quickly became evident that Somalia was no longer a viable option when it came to raising their young family. The Rahims wanted the best for their children, and they wanted it enough that they were prepared to risk the journey to a country heralded as a mecca of opportunity - a place of peace, safety and security. The UK would become home for Safi by the age of two, with her parents fleeing as the political unrest reached its peak, and Safi's mother gave birth to her sister just days after arriving in North London where she would spend the next several years of her childhood. With four younger sisters to keep her busy, Safi quickly adopted the role of young mother in training. Her parents relied heavily on her help around the house as they picked up basic work cleaning hospitals and serving fast food, a world away from the respected positions they'd held in their home country.
The trauma of leaving their home country and settling in a place where their skills were not skills anymore put a strain on her parent's marriage, and many of Safi's childhood years were spent with the quiet knowledge that all was not right between her parents. Her father's stricter Muslim beliefs clashed badly with her mother's more relaxed view of her religion and her insistence that they didn't push their own agenda onto their daughters, and Safi suffered as the eldest child and the one her father attempted to exercise the most control over as she grew into her teenage years. Often ostracized from her peers as a result of his overbearing rules, it wasn't until her parents separated when Safi was 13 that she felt free to truly explore herself as the person she wanted to be and not the person she felt her father wanted to be. Experimenting with music became an obsession second only with her lifelong fascination with the written word, and all her initial works were born of an unreliable laptop and secondhand equipment stashed away in the corner of her bedroom. When her mother had finished requalifying as a nurse, she moved Safi and her younger sisters to Canada - the year was 2004, and she was on the cusp of turning 14 with all her awkward teenage mannerisms in full bloom. Luckily for Safi, the group of friends she fell into were equally as musically inclined as she was, and it was through her strange, malformed songs that she was able to foster friendships that would eventually lead to Safi taking herself seriously as a musician.
The year she graduated high school, Safi and a few of her friends began utilising an abandoned factory space in Montreal for their various creative endeavours - they hosted poetry readings, music nights, small art shows and even hosted plays. The space became known as Lab Synthèse and became a hotspot among the local youth, enough so that Safi was able to earn a living co-ordinating events and booking new talent. When one of her friends decided to start a record label as a side project, it made sense that Safi would be signed as one of his artists - she released Geidi Primes in the January of 2010, never expecting anything serious to come of it, and at the time she was far more interested in the bonafide publisher who made semi-frequent visits to their poetry night and had shown an interest in her work. When people began to respond to Geidi Primes, Safi released a second album 9 months later - Halfaxa - and though there was no money in the budget for a supporting tour, she still played regular shows at their factory space and started to build a dedicated online fanbase.
Over the Christmas of 2010, the publisher Safi had been so determined to impress had invited her to his home city of London to help foster her writing skills. Returning to London for the first time in so long was a daunting experience, but one that led to an explosion of creative material that would eventually go on to be published under his not-for-profit house - Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth was a short collection intended to get her name into literary circles, and it did its job well. For the next few years Safi would travel back and forth between London and Montreal, quitting her job at Lab Synthèse to focus full-time on producing her creative material, a surreal step in itself. Through her connections to London she was signed with British label 4AD, who promised a wider exposure for her next album, Visions, which was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and her very first tour.
With a constant battle between music and poetry raging, Safi took a two year hiatus from music after her tour to focus on the development of her writing career. She moved to London full time and read her work all over the city, hosted workshops and guest edited poetry submissions for a few small magazines. With her reputation as a serious writer growing, lyrics came as a natural extension of her work and she began writing her fourth album at the beginning of 2015, finished it in between touring as an opening artist for Dahlia Faye. Sequestering herself away in remote Canada to record and produce the finished album, Art Angels was released in October and hailed as her most radio friendly album to date. Due to embark on her biggest tour to date over the spring and summer of 2016, Safi feels as if she has finally learned the balance between music and poetry - or moreso, seeing her career as one cohesive entity, with two sides that enhance one another instead of battling for her attention.