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Yasmine Hamdan is a pioneer in Middle Eastern pop music; she was the leader of Soap Kills, generally cited as the first indie/electronic act to rise to fame in that part of the world, and went on to gain an international audience as a musician, songwriter, and actress. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1976, Yasmine's career in music began in the mid-'90s with a rock band called Lombrix, which also featured multi-instrumentalist Zeid Hamdan (despite sharing the same last name, they're not related). In 1997, after Lombrix split up, Yasmine and Zeid launched a new project that would combine traditional Arabic music with contemporary electronic sounds. Together, they formed Soap Kills, releasing their debut album, Bater, in 2001. Soap Kills was one of the first independent acts in Lebanon to gain a following, and became one of the most talked-about acts in the Middle East. After cutting two more albums, 2005's Cheftak and 2005's Enta Fen, and touring Europe, the Middle East, and Australia, Yasmine relocated to Paris, where she fell in with producer Mirwais, a former member of the band Taxi Girl who also collaborated with Madonna. Together, they created the 2008 album Arabology under the name Y.A.S.; Yasmine also made music with the American indie act CocoRosie. In 2012, Yasmine stepped out on her own, going into the studio with producer Marc Collin to record her first solo effort. The album, called Yasmine Hamdan, was released in France and Lebanon by the end of the year, while a revamped and expanded edition, titled Ya Nass, was given an international release by Crammed Discs in 2013. In 2014, Yasmine's international career got a serious boost when filmmaker Jim Jarmusch featured her in his hipster vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddlestone; in the movie, Yasmine plays herself and delivers a mesmerizing performance at a nightclub in Tangiers. ~ Mark Deming
1976 in Beirut, Lebanon
'90s, '00s, '10s