Yusuf Misdaq ‘goes home’ with new EP meant for Afghan people
By Brennan Stebbins
Yusuf Misdaq takes a lot of pride in his Afghan culture – his new stage name, MASSTAKAI, is taken from the tribe his family descended from thousands of years ago.
tribe of people who were very joyful and musical and used to dance,” he says.
accomplished solo artist who’s released nine albums and EP’s, Yusuf’s newest
project is his first meant specifically for the people of Afghanistan. Born in
England and now living in the US, Yusuf says there’s been a rise in
consciousness of Afghan culture among those living in the West, and that’s
influencing his new music.
so much to be proud of with Afghan culture, so much history and music and
spirituality,” he says. “The Taliban just came back to Afghanistan and they ban
music. It’s a big deal for me. I’ve been there, my dad was living in Kabul and I
know the culture there pretty well. Needless to say, Afghans love their music,
it’s a huge part of their lives. The only Afghans able to produce new music now
are those in the West, but even that is kind of implicitly intended for Western
audiences, or it’s music with a kind of depressive, heavy energy. So what I’m
trying to do, because the Taliban are not sophisticated enough to filter out
specific websites or videos, is to just reach people back in my country through
these very raw, honest songs.
a sort of spiritual quest for me to touch my people, reach my people and really
connect with them,” he says. “Connect with my heritage and my culture.”
music sprouted from 90’s UK hip hop and added ambient, electronic synth-pop and
acoustic folk sounds. His new release, the three-song EP Ziyara, is a nod to the 70’s and 80’s pop music that was once
popular in Afghanistan. Slated for release on May 17, it incorporates some
lo-fi and world music elements with an electronic background. The title track
begins with a funky beat that expands into an ambient movement for several
minutes, accompanied by Yusuf’s free word association.
very slow and dreamlike,” he says. “This constant sense of journeying and going
deeper into consciousness, into your history. That’s the meaning of the word
The EP uses an unusual – for Western audiences – 7/8 time signature, one native to Afghan music, and in a first for Yusuf, the lyrics are in the Farsi language.
not typical pop music, right?” he says. “the last track ends with a beautiful
prayer in Farsi for Afghanistan. It doesn’t make it radio friendly. I look at
my music, especially on this EP, as something more like a drug, so for the
people it’s meant to reach I want it to sink into their heads slowly and affect
them on a subconscious level where they might be more sensitive to spiritual
things around them.”
says the project is part of a larger worldwide movement of people “going home,”
which accelerated during COVID as many people moved back home and out of the
want to get in touch with what really makes them unique and what better way to start
than your culture, your family history, the stories your parents told you,” he
says. “I see it as a worldwide return, a spiritual homecoming that’s happening
right now. One of the lyrics on the title-track is actually a principle in
Afghan spirituality, Sufi philosophy, which literally translates as the journey
released his first album in 2004, and each project has served as a remedy for a
different period of time in society. That first release, From a Western Box, was a response to the war on terror.
addition to his new music, Yusuf is planning an online education initiative for
Afghan girls and boys, utilizing platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
sure to stay connected to Yusuf Misdaq on all platforms for new music, videos,
and social posts.