Youmna drops EP ‘Return to Origins’

The multidisciplinary artist releases an ode to her poetic roots

Art for ‘Return to Origins’. Painting by @antkassabji. Graphic Design by @ana.iism. Courtesy Khadijah “Youmna” Asha

The intertwining of artistic evolution and personal life events have brought us the EP Return to Origins by Khadijah “Youmna” Asha.

Youmna, which is the name under which the artist released the EP, was born in Abu Dhabi and resides in Montreal. Her creative journey is reflected in the EP’s nine tracks which morph through spoken-word, beat-mixing, freestyle, and singing.

Youmna, who also DJs under the name Jassah, recorded Return to Origins in 2019. However, staying true to the EP’s title and theme of returning to a previous time, it was released on Jan. 7, 2021. To Youmna, this gap in time doesn’t negate the point of the work but makes it more than just an EP.

“I consider it an EP but I’m also calling it a time capsule. Because the way that I hear it, I could put it underneath the earth or in a treasure box,” she said. “I believe time is circular, so people from the past and people from the future can listen to this and it will still be relevant. It will still serve its purpose.”

Return to Origins was created out of liberation and heartbreak. “It’s the story of past generations and that’s why I felt like I had to put it out now. To end a karmic cycle, even if it’s never truly over,” Youmna said.

“I’m very much about healing and ending generational curses. And I know I’m aligned with a lot of people in our generation that are on that path.” — Khadijah “Youmna” Asha

The DJ and musician described herself as having always been a poet and spoken-word artist. Youmna’s art has a mix of influences from both East and West.

“Being mostly Syrian, and the Syrian genocide going on for over a decade — all of that is definitely a big part. That being said, I cannot deny the influence of Black American, Caribbean, and African cultures and sounds and people,” she said.

Youmna’s other influencing sounds are the 80s and 90s hip-hop scene and the raw aspect of underground MCing.

In 2017, she managed an underground studio in Montreal where she DJed for the first time and began learning the art of mixing. Youmna had already met DJ and producer MusoNi, who she describes as “an underground legend,” when her only sister died in 2017. After her passing, Youmna would frequently go to MusoNi’s home.

The artist Youmna keeps their face mainly hidden online. Courtesy Khadijah “Youmna” Asha

“When my sister passed, I would go to his place. We would go in his room, turn off all the lights, smoke everywhere,” she said. It was during these times that Youmna recorded her first mixtape, Act 1 by The Fury, the name of their group. 

After continuing to DJ and perform at events, Youmna began to develop her own style in 2018. Developing this style also meant expanding to her array of artistic talents. She added singing to her work and not long after, began producing music in her home studio as well. Having always been a freestyle artist, Youmna considers Return to Origins “an ode to the poet that started everything.”

To Youmna, going back to the origin is also about healing and moving forward. This reflects not only in her art, but also in her holistic massage therapy company, Tuqus, where she addresses people as not just bodies, but minds and spirits. This healing is ever-present in her music.

“I’m very much about healing and ending generational curses. And I know I’m aligned with a lot of people in our generation that are on that path,” she said. “I believe in prophecy, that a lot of things are already written, but I do believe we have so much power and we can write the script at the same time.”

‘Return to Origins’ is available to listen to on Soundcloud. Courtesy Khadijah “Youmna” Asha

Moving forward in her art, Youmna wants to explore soul and blues. She says she plans on expanding her production by working with analogue and instruments. We can also expect to witness an expanded blend of her music, dance, and visual art.

“I know that whatever comes next will be different even if it’s unknown, it’s sort of like the entire state of society right now, I have no idea what’s to come, but I’m open.”

Return to Origins is available on SoundCloud

Keep up with Khadijah “Youmna” Asha’s journey on social media.

IG @khad_i_jah @tuqusbodywork

Twitter @othersideoftheg