Sabiyha today releases a live session version of her debut single ‘Choorile’ (out now). Captured against the rooftops of her Croydon neighbourhood on a moody day in early 2020, the performance captures the gutsy spirit of British-Guyanese Sabiyha’s new track. Produced by Avi Barath out of Dave Okumu’s (The Invisible) studios in Deptford, ‘Choorile’ is a reclamation of a Guyanese term derived from a folkloric tale about a banshee-like creature, which has become short-hand for women who are perceived to be too loud, unruly or assertive. Watch the live session from here.
Born and raised in South London’s Croydon amongst a large, extended family – headed up by matriarch ‘Nanny’ – Sabiyha wrote ‘Choorile’ in recognition of powerful womxn, informed first hand by the strength and guts of her whip-smart Mum. “She was quite strong willed when she was young, and whilst she didn’t let me act out growing up, she encouraged me to speak up and have my own opinions” says Sabiyha; “She’d ask me ‘Are you a leader or are you a follower? She was quite hard about that – she didn’t want me to just go along with what people were saying, and that’s what has shaped the way I am. You don’t want to get in an argument with my Mum! She’s tiny but there’s plenty of fight in her. She’s the person that I was thinking of, writing ‘Choorile’.”
It’s this uncompromising inhabiting of space which spills over into the takedown of ‘Choorile’, with her supple vocals caught up between bars of broken English and elements of South India’s Carnatic traditions. Growing up in Sabiyha’s house was never silent, her teenage world sound-tracked by the latest tracks from Choice FM and Channel U, with Grime and soca playing at day-to-night parties round BBQs. It’s a balance which reflects the broader interplay between her cultural heritage – brought into sharper focus by an affecting recent trip to Sabiyha’s parents’ former home, Guyana – and the ease of Croydon’s multicultural dynamic.