On the Couch with Shoeb Ahmad

Shoeb Ahmad - photo by Anna MayberryWho is Shoeb Ahmad?
An artist working across music and time-based mixed-media works who also happens to be a proud trans-femme Muslim woman of Bangladeshi descent.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I have regrets but I don’t dwell on them. Everything that has happened to me is an experience which has influenced me as a person and a creative being (for better or worse). All the moments that are key to my personal narrative have been fruit for inspiration. Maybe if at some point, I might have been able to become more patient and able to detach myself from my work to relax properly but I think that time has passed and I’ll be forever restless haha.

Who inspires you and why?
Woven into my restlessness, my inspirations come from many disparate sources – my current creative trope of identity and self-awareness comes just from what is relevant in the social conversation today as much as it does from reading about people like Laura Jane Grace and Laverne Cox. I feel that inspiration comes from the everyday and if forever evolving so I don’t know if I can place it to just one thing.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I don’t think making a difference requires a grand gesture. I recorded and released my album “quiver” as way of seeing out my inner demons but also as a tale of empathy for others like myself who have grappled with issues around identity so a gesture as simple someone hearing the album and feeling strength in themselves from knowing they aren’t alone has made a difference to their.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I have a soft spot for Singapore – but not the crazy world of financial markets and duty free shopping but rather the hidden world of Singlish conversations, chap-book presses, DIY gigs in rehearsal studios and back street dim sum at 1.00am.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they are from overseas, I end up taking them to Mt Stromlo Observatory to see the kangaroos who come out at sunset. Inter-staters get a trip to the Mandalay Bus for a post-gig Burmese laksa or Satay waffle fries!

What are you currently reading?
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to start a book of late. I find myself reading about the political debacles of this country through the Guardian app more often than not, but also I keenly followed the Beto O’Rourke trail during the US mid-terms recently. Quite strange to see old punk rockers running for the US Senate really.

What are you currently listening to?
I have a demo tape from this NZ band called Soda Boyz, which is actually quite fantastic. Like minimalist slow guitar rock. Also sitting on the turntable are recordings by Evelyn Ida Morris, Mod Con, Thom Yorke’s soundtrack to the new Suspiria film and Jonny Greenwood’s soundtracks to Phantom Thread and Inherent Vice.

Happiness is?
Time at home with my children telling me stories that lull me to sleep with a smile on my face.

What does the future hold for you?
I will be performing my work im/modesty with the Australian Art Orchestra at Arts Centre Melbourne on Sunday 9 December before spending the summer thinking about songwriting, recording new projects with my duo Spartak and preparing the next album by Sensaround for release in March/April 2019.

Shoeb will be performing im/modesty with the Australian Art Orchestra at Arts Centre Melbourne on Sunday 9 December as part of the 2018 Mapping Melbourne program. For more information, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au or www.multiculturalarts.com.au for details.

Image:Shoeb Ahmad – photo by Anna Mayberry