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The Hakim Siblings Make Forward-Looking Deep House as Moon Roots Project

Intro: Fatema and Hannan Hakim discuss family, the future and why they gave up looking for a label and self-released their latest EP, ‘Esin’

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Urvija Banerji May 29, 2017
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Hannan and Fatima Hakim of Moon Roots Project. Photo; Courtesy of the artist

Hannan and Fatima Hakim of Moon Roots Project. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Sibling duo Fatema and Hannan Hakim only started making deep house in late 2014, but they’ve been incredibly prolific since then, releasing four EPs in three years under their Moon Roots Project moniker; three on the web-based music label Under Noize and one on Puff Recordings, an electronic music label from Chennai. But they’ve decided to take a new, more independent route on their latest EP, Esin, which released on bandcamp on May 7th.

“All these years we were looking for labels to release our music with, because you get [more] reach and publicity,” says 27-year-old Hannan, the older of the two siblings. “I think what we’re trying to do here is get [people to be] more independent with their music releases and not depend on labels, or the glorified idea of a label.”

Moon Roots Project’s music has a sense of fluidity to it, which in part could be attributed to the founders’ familial ties. “There’s no process. There’s no division of work,” says Hannan, “It’s either me sitting on the computer, and I come up with, let’s say, a one-minute loop or a sound that really sounds good, and I run to Fatema’s room (I used to, at least, because we used to live in the same house until recently). I would run to Fatema’s room and I would be like, ”˜Bro, check this out, look what I made.’ Then she would come back running into my room, and she’d say, ”˜This sounds cool!’ and she would start programming melodies or beats.”

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Their desire to constantly create is perhaps a direct result of their love of learning new skills. Fatema, 21, is just about to graduate with a degree in English, and Hannan went to Italy a few years ago to obtain a degree in industrial design. “Our parents always taught us [to] always keep learning, no matter what. Just keep expanding yourself and reinventing yourself, because you never know when it may help you,” says Hannan. “We’re always students, we’re always learning.”

Even their electronic music careers started as a result of their lessons with Monaal Aron, a sound engineering professor at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Though Fatema was already on her way to becoming a classical pianist and vocalist, neither of the siblings knew how to make electronic music or work the software. Aron agreed to teach Fatema the ropes, and she convinced her brother to take lessons with her.

“Eventually, I want to study more about music because it’s so vast, there’s so much!” says Fatema. She thinks that going to school or taking more lessons in music might be on the cards for her. “I definitely want to go ahead with that, but I don’t want to stop learning other things. I want to try everything else out too, but this is my main thing,” says Fatema. “It’s always been that one thing that I’ve definitely wanted to do. It’s always been my priority. It’s on top of the list. Everything else comes after,” she says, and then looks over at her brother and someone behind the screen they’re Skyping over from. “Except, of course, family,” she adds with a laugh.

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If there’s one thing that the Hakim siblings place emphasis on more than they do music and learning, it’s family. The “Roots” part of their moniker is a nod to Hannan’s love of plants and nature, but also, as Fatema puts, it, “we come from the same root, right?” As for the moon, Hannan explains, “The moon is very special to Fatema. For me, it also stands for Monaal [Aron]. He grew to become family to us.”

Listen to ‘Esin,’ the new Moon Roots Project EP:

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