We Are The Wanting Creature: An Interview with Iska Dhaaf

Looking for some rad, musical Friday night plans? Stop by the KXSU Lounge at 5 p.m. to check out the really neat up-and-coming band, Iska Dhaaf, on their special, second-to-last show of a massive tour supporting their new album, The Wanting Creature. They’ve been on the move since Bumbershoot in September, so Friday will be their very own welcome back to the lovely Pacific Northwest. They’ve got a great, alternative, spacey sound, and will likely put on a cool, little show for us. Benjamin, half of the Iska Dhaaf duo, was kind enough to answer a few questions, so read up and show up on Friday!

Photo by Jordan Strong

AH: Congratulations on finishing such a massive tour! What has been your favorite city? Do you have any cool highlights?

BV: Thank you! It was our biggest tour so far. There are so many highlights and great cities. Detroit, Clemson and New Orleans were really fun.


AH: “Iska Dhaaf” translates to “let it go” in Somali. Why Somali? And why “let it go?”

BV: My wife, Ifrah, who is Somali, recommended we use the name because I would say the phrase all the time. I started learning the language in 2008 when I worked with Somali kids. It’s an amazing and poetic language.

AH: What are the benefits/limits of having just two people in a band? How well do you two work together, and what different qualities do the two of you bring?

BV: Nathan and I are super close and have a similar aesthetic and work ethic. We always want to be writing and performing. There is an ease and closeness between us that is rare in most bands. In general, I would say I bring the big picture and structure to a lot of planning things and Nate brings the details and specificity. In regards to writing, we balance one another out and expand one each other’s ideas. On a practical level everything from money to schedules, being two piece is easier.

Photo by Brady Harvey

AH: I’m really interested in the description of your album, The Wanting Creature, as it’s focused on a theme of desire and “how it manifests in each area of our lives, even our biology.” It’s well reflected in both the title and album cover. Why was this a theme you were interested in?

BV: We saw the theme manifest in our writing and what we were reading at the time. It was also a feeling that we were both aware of and trying to grasp. The idea of desire is ever-present in all of our lives. In some great sense desire is what motivates us as humans. We’re never fully content. That is difficult but it also compels us to search, grow and discover.

AH: Also, a big fan of the Twin Peaks reference in the song, “Laura Palmer. What are your other notable artistic influences?

BV: We definitely draw a lot of inspiration from literature. Everything from Sufi poets to Steinbeck, Marques, Hurston, and so on. Nate studied theater and I studied literature. We try to consume great works of film, plays, and the visual arts-anything that speaks to us.

AH: Adding a visual element alongside music is pretty popular at the moment. Your visual album adds a really unique, complementary layer to the album. What was your motivation behind the inclusion of visuals? What was it like working with the director, Brit Zerbo, to combine your visions?

BV: We’re big fans of what Brit does and wanted the music have another element during shows and for folks who listen to music through the web. Collaborating with Brit just made the record that much more vivid and dynamic. She really went above and beyond.


AH: If you could open for any band, who would it be?

BV: Probably Outkast.

AH: What are you dressing up as for Halloween? What was your favorite Halloween costume you ever have dressed up as?

BV: We are nuns. It worked out really well at our show on Saturday. There is a great photo you can see on our Instagram.


Come on down and see Iska Dhaaf’s exclusive set for KXSU at our in-studio on Friday, 11/4, at 5 p.m. This event is free and all SU students are welcome!

You can also check out Iska Dhaaf’s very last show of 2016 right after our in-studio when they hit The Vera Project with special guests Special Explosion and Tiburones at 8 p.m. You can get your tickets and more information here.



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