Exploring the Cultural intersection with Serena Hussain
We asked Serena Hussain to recommend her favourite artists from home and abroad and tell us more about her project: LifeVocabulary.com..
Can you tell us about lifevocabulary.com , your mission and how the phrase ‘life vocabulary’ relates to it?
The name for my culture content site "Life Vocabulary" came about in 2016 when I wanted to establish a digital platform for creative living and for capturing insightful stories. I adore extracting nuggets of wisdom from artists and creatives for the podcast, magazine and youtube channel - all the material on the site is multi-media and in-depth. The name is also reflective of how I approach life/work. We're continually learning, evolving, and we find new ways to express ourselves and articulate through life.
That's what life vocab is about, and how expansive we're willing to make it. We've all got our own, and we hopefully learn to relate to each others even if we don't agree (it's all about the grey area). On a macro level though, I wanted to create and publish content to incite insight, especially in these divisive times.
Can you recall a time when you encountered something cultural - a song, a performance, perhaps - which gave you new life vocabulary?
Oooooh good question. My late father was a music promoter (it was his side hustle but his main passion) and he hosted an internationally renowned Qawwali group called “The Sabri Brothers”. I was basically the box office and his right hand man at the age of 14. That night changed me. Seeing these legendary musicians performing live for a massive audience in London was awesome. Even though I grew up having some incredible Pakistani/Indian musical legends ‘hanging-out’ at home - being a part of live music like that so early left a real impression on my ‘life vocabulary’.
Your website covers a lot of ground, from grime, and Korean hip-hop, to outdoor dance performances and interviews with artists and creators, but in your opinion, where is the most creative work coming from at the moment?
Any corner of the world … and there's only so much we are exposed to. Digital media does allow us to discover new work but its up to us to dig a little deeper. I gravitate towards multi-disciplinary artists. There’s a couple that spring to mind. Hassan Hajjaj and Jhene Aiko. I visited Hassan’s riad (his home art studio) in Marrakech accidentally before I had even seen his work. It was serendipitous. Our conversation has stayed with me since. I was recently sent Jhené Aiko’s poetry book by her publisher to review. I adore how Jhené mixes mediums (film/poetry/singing) to express her story.
Another Artist I managed to have one of many in depth conversations with - but didn’t record - was Tupac Martir. He’s a light installation Artist whose ‘come-up’ story is really interesting. From video shoots at MTV to designing the lights for a Beyonce tour.
Going back to the idea of having a life vocabulary, can you pick one word which sums up your life or your outlook on life?
What do you make of the cultural scene in Croydon today? What are your highlights, and where do you think improvements need to be made?
There are a few inspirational individuals I've encountered who are doing a lot for the community. It's not just about creativity and commentary - both can feel a tad indulgent at times. Contribution is key and there are individuals in Croydon doing selfless work. Perhaps spotlighting these community efforts would make ‘contributing’ more popular?
I’m newish to Croydon and have recently had great conversations with Croydon Artists Mr Ekow and Alph Arley. Both of these guys are dedicated to their communities. They’re not just about their art which is refreshing!
Imagine that you get to have a fantasy party at the Huss Art House , which artists/musicians, dead or alive, do you invite and is there a theme to your party?
In my own home studio? Damn. Has to be Neo-soul musicians from the 90's and early 00's. The theme would be … (smirk) … eclectic! And I would be DJing of course.