As I Open My Eyes by Leyla Bouzid (a winner of 16 international film awards so far) tells the story of 18-year-old Farah (played by Baya Medhaffar), who sings in an alternative-rock band called Joujma, and her coming of age in pre-revolutionary Tunisia against the will of her mother Hayet (played by Tunisian songstress Ghalia Benali).
The soundtrack of the film features original music composed, arranged and produced by Khyam Allami for the band in the film (Joujma), alongside Oud-based incidental music and Maurice Louca’s Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot), the title track from his latest album (also released on Nawa Recordings in 2015).
Working closely from the early stages of casting and pre-production through to the final sound mixing of the film, Allami and Leyla Bouzid aimed to develop a new and youthful sound for the band, informed by Tunisian folk music such as the vocal driven songs from the city of El Kef, and inspired by artists such as Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and the female leads in alternative rock bands such as Sonic Youth and Stereolab.
The five-piece band of non-professional actors-musicians features Baya Medhaffar as Farah (vocals), Montasser Ayari as Borhene (oud), Deena Abdelwahed as Ines (keys & electronics), and the brothers Marwen Soltana as Sami (bass) and Youssef Soltana as Ska (drums).
During pre-production Allami spent much time with Medhaffar, who makes her acting and singing debut, to help her find her voice, all the while seeking inspiration to compose the songs based on her abilities and the nuances of her adolescent character. Teaching the band the songs by rote, Allami tried to keep a balance between their musicality and a natural yet amateur edge to their performance.
The lyrics for the band’s songs were written by Tunisian writer Ghassan Amami in colloquial Tunisian Arabic, based on the film’s narrative and dramatic context. Allami, who composed, arranged and produced the songs, alongside the Oud-based incidental music, used the lyrics as a catalyst to heighten their latent symbolism alongside their social, cultural and political referencing, whilst serving the dynamic trajectory of the film’s plot.
The songs in the film are performed live by the band, all of whom make their acting debuts. They were then recorded in a music studio in Tunisia to form the first part of this soundtrack album.
As I Open My Eyes / A peine j’ouvre les yeux will be available on CD and download, including Mastered for iTunes and lossless high-definition 24-bit/96kHz audio files.
All editions feature artwork by Lebanese designer Jana Traboulsi and tri-lingual booklets with lyrics in Arabic, English and French.
released January 15, 2016
Original music composed, arranged and produced by Khyam Allami.
Lyrics by Ghassan Amami except track 13 by Majd Mastoura.
Joujma is a fictional group created for the film:
Baya Medhaffar (Vocals)
Deena Abdelwahed (Processing, Theremin, Backing Vocals)
Khyam Allami (Oud, Bendir, Qaraqeb, Programming)
Marwen Soltana (Bass Guitar) Youssef Soltana (Drums)
All tracks performed by Joujma except track 5 by Maurice Louca, track 6 by Khyam Allami & Baya Medhaffar, tracks 7, 11 & 14 by Khyam Allami, track 13 by Baya Medhaffar.
Tracks 1-4 recorded by Helmi El Kobbi at AV Productions Studio, Ariana, Tunis and mixed by Khyam Allami.
Track 6 recorded by Ludovic Van Pachterbeke on location and mixed by Rémi Gérard at Empire Digital, Brussels, Belgium.
Tracks 8, 9, 12 & 13 recorded by Helmi El Kobbi on location and mixed by Rémi Gérard & Khyam Allami at Empire Digital, Brussels, Belgium.
Tracks 7 & 11 recorded by Khyam Allami and mixed by Rémi Gérard & Khyam Allami at Empire Digital, Brussels, Belgium.
Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot) by Maurice Louca is taken from the album Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot) available via Nawa Recordings NAWA002.
Tawazon II: or lack of by Khyam Allami is taken from the album Resonance/Dissonance available via Nawa Recordings NAWA001.
All tracks mastered by Jason Mitchell at LOUD Mastering, UK.
Artwork design & layout by Jana Traboulsi. Design assistance by Ziad Bou Assi.