Thoom. The first time Thoom tried to record her voice, she found herself screaming. She had a lot to be angry about: born in Lebanon, she found herself plucked aged 11 from the warm chaos of Beirut and deposited into rural Iowa, miles from anything she knew and anyone who looked remotely like her. Annual trips back to her native country, replete with the threat of fighter jets and catcalls, only served as a bitter reminder that no place would feel quite like home again. By the time she escaped to art school in Chicago, Thoom had almost a decade of frustration and dissonance to process. The American noise scene appeared to her at just the right time.
On her debut EP for tastemaking Californian label Club Chai in 2017, Thoom concocted an unstable fusion between the chaotic noise of the DIY punk gigs she attended and the sounds of her Arab heritage passed down from her father and grandmother, which ranged from the ferocious artillery of darbuka drums to the keening voice of a Lebanese “professional mourner”.
While the resulting sound was defiantly singular, it also entered into dialogue with the cultural collisions dominating forward-thinking club music. She began collaborating with rising artists Via App and E-Saggila alongside Swedish techno label Northern Electronics. The Thoom persona started to morph, expanding to explore new ideas, leaving behind mechanical hymns of alienation to compose poignant acoustic love songs. Seeking an audience receptive to sounds and voices that transcend the zeitgeist, she chose Berlin as her new home base.
For Thoom, a name meaning ‘garlic’ in Arabic but chosen simply for the pleasure in its sound, performing live began as a cathartic kind of therapy, a way to vent her rage. But the initial spark of rage has led the way to a gaping serenity that cools the cluttered chaos. The diverse sounds of her work are united by an artistic drive to always be changing in order to express something true, to make each project different, in her own words: “There’s a sound I’m searching for that doesn’t exist yet—and I’m obsessed with finding it.”