Beardy long-haired man in dungarees holds plate of lemons
Abdulisms by Maddison Pelley

Abdulisms is a London based British born Iraqi/Irish creative director and digital content producer for IRAQ-A-FELLA. Growing up between London, Doha and Dublin his vision is informed by the contrast of worlds, spaces and mother tongues he's long found himself alternating in.  

His work explores bridging underground music with themes of ancestral heritage in creative and diasporic community based projects. Releasing work across the mediums of live broadcast, documentary, augmented reality, live shows, community radio and public installations. Abdulism's portfolio boasts collaborations with the likes of Talib Kweli, Narcy, Steam Down, Girls of Grime, Ancestral Futures collective, Sofar Sounds and New Delhi based community radio Boxout FM to name a few. 

We asked Abdulisms to answer some quick questions to find out more about him.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A pilot or someone who changed the world. 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Compasses not Maps. A concept that musician Renell Shaw introduced me to when talking about creative direction. To set a general direction/intention for a piece of work as opposed to attempting to produce by following a particular blueprint or roadmap. I've found this piece of advice to resonate with me most poignantly in recent times.  

Who is your biggest influence and why?

Truthfully I could not name one. But It's the people I work with. The Iraq-A-Fella family particularly. Each of them carries a significant presence in my process of growing and maturing as a creator. All trailblazers in their own right and inspirational Iraqi citizens of many places. They are the ones who by merely existing as themselves and authentically representing who they are and where they come from created a space for creators like myself to thrive, feel understood and supported. I can't put a price on that. It's like finding home. 

Who is the one person you would like to have dinner with and why?

Myself and my brother MoCity have known each other since 2017 and broken bread twice. And had it not been for the pandemic I would've spent the majority of my time visiting him in New Delhi throughout 2020. I'm over seeing him on Zoom. He's always cooking Iraqi food that's too far for me to get to and dinner on zoom doesn't work so that's definitely who I'm picking. I could never run out of questions or convos with Mo and it would also be way easier to produce Iraq-A-Fella radio. If there's someone out there who can make it happen, me and MoCity need to have dinner. 

Where is your favourite place on this planet?

Howth Cliffs, Ireland. That's my happy place. 

What’s currently on your playlist?

Bob Vylan, 47 Soul, DAM, Narcy, Steam Down, Shumba Maasai, Felukah, Shingai, Freek, 2fox, Tülin, Dips and Lowu, Chirovamutanda, Madstarbase, Afronaut Zu, Tinyman and more! 

What gives you inspiration? 

The high of creating something that other people can resonate with or be moved by deeply. For it to address something about their being. Creativity with purpose. Creativity that poses questions. The right questions. Creativity that serves, represents and empowers people above all else. Not corporate record labels or editorial guidelines. 

What is your favourite film of all time?

The Reluctant Fundamentalist starring Riz Ahmed and directed by Mira Nair I've long held in very high regard. The soundtrack, the acting, the production. Its a remarkable piece of work. 

What’s your favourite meal?

Qoozi. As I've grown older I've come to find comfort in "there's rice at home" 

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?

Riz Ahmed, on every level of whatever he's chosen to do. He's one of the people, especially in the UK who has shown us how to do it with excellence. And I like to think we have similar backgrounds traversing between music and filmmaking growing up in London. 

What’s the last conversation you had that inspired you?

I recently interviewed musician Renell Shaw who I quote in a previous question about his creative life, process, memories, struggles and philosophies. I measure how inspired I am by a conversation by how long I'm left thinking of and reflecting on it. And that's something that I'm still left doing months on from when we sat down. 

What is the truest, most beautiful life you can imagine?

A life that lacks fear. To truly live life fearlessly. Not out of bravery, but for lack of anything that should threaten one's peace or demand resistance. The right to not feel fear is the truest freedom I can imagine.

What was your first job as an artist/curator/producer?

I think I'm still looking for it. It's a gig based economy. But if I had to think back to one. When I was in college I studied with this guy called Charlie. Who was aspiring to be a musician and asked me to shoot some stuff for a music video he was working on. I think he also might've been my introduction to Afrobeats. Anyways that video isn't out anymore and I haven't seen Charlie in nearly 10 years but he is still making music and it slaps. You can find him on streaming platforms as 'Charlie O'. Known for his song 'Legwork'. I hope he's well. 

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

Ancient Mesopotamia, Babylon, Hiphop and Grime. In that order. 

Abdulisms is part of Sawa, Sawa a new digital showcase curated by Young Shubbak. He is part of IRAQ-A-FELLA Radio a global collective of Iraqi artists/curators with members dotted across timezones and continents spanning Montreal and New Delhi to London, Dubai and Baghdad. Find out more and listen again.