In their guerilla-short music video for “Rule the World,” the pop sister-duo of Siham and Iman Hashi strut through Los Angeles’ knockoff paradise Santee Alley. “We were just running down with the camera, performing, sweating, and people were just mesmerized so no one really said anything!” Iman says. The video has already racked up more than 31,000 YouTube views.
Filming without a permit meant the Somalia-born, Toronto-raised pair had to run and gun it; that same determination led them to Atlanta and then L.A. to pursue a pop career despite the reservations of their tightly knit Somali-Canadian refugee community. “It’s a little bit taboo where we come from to sing in English,” says Siham. “We were so sick of hearing that we couldn’t have a dream and do what we wanted to do.” When the pair first signed with Universal Motown as Sweet Rush, label executives pushed them to conform to whatever sound was big on the radio.
They eventually parted ways with the label and renamed themselves based on the English meanings of their Arabic names: faith (Iman) and arrow (Siham). Their new self-titled EP, produced by Elijah Kelley, DJ Khalil and the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, showcases a Rihanna-esque pop sound that melds heavy percussion, African rhythms, reggae and hip hop. (Their unique mash-ups of Top 40 hits have also racked up more than 100,000 plays on YouTube.)
Their world-pop vibe shows up in their style, too: Faarrow’s signature mix of eye-melting African prints, vintage denim and leather is just as fresh and genre-crushing as their hip-shaking music, and will be getting even more play after their upcoming appearance in a DIESEL + EDUN campaign featuring young African creatives.
In July, they spent a week in Kenya shooting an autobiographical video for their second single, “Say My Name.” (Somalia was too dangerous.) The sisters donned Somali Hido Iyo Dhaqan clothing—red woven material with gold, white and green stripes, wrapped and worn with beads—and rapped in the desert and at a local Maasai market.
“We wanted to empower the young girls of our generation. In the beginning of the video, there are younger versions of us … hiding in our room with the radio,” Iman says. “Then it features us as adults with our Somali posse and the song has a lot of attitude. We’re singing and celebrating that singing and music are OK, and that girls have a voice.”
Shop Charity: They design W.I.S.H. Creatively (wishcreatively.com), a socially conscious jewellery line that funds charitable initiatives in developing nations. (They also recently launched a capsule collection of necklaces and hats, shopfaarrow.com.)
Shop Kenya: On their day off from shooting “Say My Name,” the sisters headed to Nairobi’s Maasai market and picked out brass bracelets and beaded necklaces and cuffs. “Expect that merchants will give you the ‘tourist price,’” says Siham. “Cut that in half (maybe even a little more) and you’ll get the price locals pay!”
Shop Los Angeles: (825 N. La Brea Ave.) is where the Hashi sisters comb for vintage finds.“Every day we’re likely wearing at least one piece from the dollar sale,” laughs Iman. For imported African prints, they typically hit up Ashanti Fabrics (224 East 9th St.) and then head to a tailor, but now that the style is in,Topshop and H&M are their other go-tos.
Watch the video for the first single “Say My Name” below.