Thursday, October 29, 2009

Electronic music composition assignment

We had to spend a couple of hours composing with mic-speaker feedback being passed through some effects and filter racks... I cheated a little and recorded myself playing bass...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Apart from Hamed I no longer own the cheapest instrument in the band...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mashrou3 Leila on Ruptures (12/10/09) With Ziad Nawfal

The Interview with Ziad Nawfal on Ruptures

Awesome time at the Studio with Ziad...Click the link above and be sure to listen to the interview!(both parts)

Great photos by Tanya Traboulsi(as always)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


[What follows is an article on the band Mashrou3 Leila. It is based on an interview I conducted with three members of the band on May 26. Aishti Gossip has published some totally butchered and edited version of this that frankly sucks balls Aishti-style. I had hoped to have the whole article published in some other local media outlet, but none wanted it. So before this thing fossilizes, here it is, consigned to facebook until I or someone else gets their act together enough to start a website dedicated to coverage of the Lebanese alternative music scene.

Enjoy. Faysal Bibi]

“Ya 3akrout ya sharmout weynak raye7?”

It is a particularity of many languages—Arabic among them—that swearing takes on an ironic but highly effective form of endearment.
Mashrou3 Leila’s music is an original and eclectic concoction of psychedelic folk that plays mistress to highly charged lyrics sung in Beiruti Arabic and imbibed with double entendres.

I met with three of the seven members (or the “seven variations”) of Mashrou3 Leila—
Ibrahim ‘Bob’ Badr (bass), Haig Papazian (violin), andHamed Sinno (vocals)—at t-Marbouta for a chat.

A quick listen to their music and it is apparent that the lyrical spirit of social critique and commentary made famous by the likes of 
Ziad Rahbani has found new life in Mashrou3 Leila, though this may not have been intended. When asked about this, Sinno responds, “It’s not consciously political.” He explains the band’s frustrations with the alternative Arabic music scene, in that it reflects very little about the people it is by and for. In contrast, “We’re writing about us and our reactions to what’s around us. It’s a means for us to vent and gives something for others to associate with.”

In the Beginning

Mashrou3 Leila began when Papazian and Omaya Malaeb (keyboards) put up a posting in the Department of Architecture and Design of the American University of Beirut, searching for other musicians to jam with. That was February 2007. From an initial pool of 12 to 13 people that answered the posting, 7 remained to form the band.

Los Angeles was to 
The Doors what Beirut is to Mashrou3 Leila. “Most of the songs are based on our own experiences in the city,” Papazian says, “We all come from different parts of Beirut, and every part you know has its own culture and history. So imagine when these are brought together: different backgrounds create different sounds.

The creative process is typically not an easy one to engage with, particularly when your band has a member count of seven. Nevertheless, the songwriting process remains remarkably fluid. “We often start with a theme, perhaps something that one of us has brought in, and this theme then evolves,” Papazian elaborates. It’s a co-creative process between the music and the lyrics, a co-evolution. The fluidity of the artistic process is not lost on Mashrou3 Leila. The song “
Raksit Leila started as something else, random words that on their own translated into their own sentences. Shuffling, reshuffling, experimentation; our music is never finished. Finishing or recording a song is only holding or capturing it at a certain point in its evolution.”

Mashrou3 Leila is a band that welcomes popularity and welcomes radio airplay as an opportunity to bring something fresh to the mainstream.
“Contemporary Arabic music: it’s a lot of the same fucking shit, over-barfed lyrics, so fucking artificial. There’s a lot of good stuff out there but it’s hard to find,” Sinno says. He recalls a period when bands like Soap Kills were in the mainstream, but that time was “so temporary” and Mashrou3 Leila is a band that would like to do something about that.

The Scene

The band views themselves as part of a rapidly growing scene of ‘good stuff’, a new wave of alternative Arabic music including the likes of 
Rim BannaTanya SalehTamer Abu Ghazaleh, Jadal, and even the whacky Sheesha Band. This in turn is a scene supported by an ever-increasing number of record labels such as Forward and Eka3.“There’s a collective growing,” Sinno says excitedly, “an alternative approach to Arabic music—it’s mushrooming in the Arab world.” The band has noticed that they are starting to share audiences with many of their contemporaries riding the new Alternative-Arabic wave, a marker of popularity of which they are quite proud.

The six men and one woman in the band are all A.U.B. students, dispersed among design, architecture, and engineering, and in their third or final years. They already have to balance their academic and professional ambitions with the runaway wild beast that the band has become. 
“We all really really like what we do outside the band,”Sinno says. "We don’t know what might happen academically or professionally,” Papazian adds. “Right now, we don’t have to make the choice, there’s no choice to be made,” Badr tells me. Accommodating their school schedules, the band waited till after spring final examinations were over to being production work on their debut album, and they are rushing have it finished soon largely because Badr will be leaving to start a Master’s in engineering at M.I.T. in September.

The recording and production process is often a sensitive issue for musicians, particularly if a band is seeking to retain a raw or live sound in their recordings. Not so for this one. Papazian tells me the band is fully interested in using technology to their benefit. 
“The production process could add some new layers, something new,” Papazian says, to the point where fans who already know their songs will feel like they’re hearing them again for the first time on the record. With 11 songs ready to go and two more in the works, the band’s excitement towards being immortalized on record is palpable. “We want to offer something to the musical library in Lebanon and in the Arab region, something new,” Papazian continues. “Something a bit more violent,”Sinno quips.

The band members’ interests extend into the social sphere even beyond the band itself. Papazian and a friend run 
lubnanabad, a website collective of “art, architecture, film, animation, music; things we’re interested in.” Papazian also has a hand in organizing the eventTalk20.

Sinno has gained some notoriety as one of the 
stencilists adorningHamra with evocative and provocative spraycan art, largely thanks to a video he made about his work that made its way to YouTube. Interestingly enough, Sinno made the video in lieu of a presentation he had to give for the AUB design department. “I couldn’t get up in front of 300 people and talk about my work,” he says. But “music is different,” he continues, “I do music non-discursively, and I’m not actively trying to make a living from it. It’s also a collective effort. But design, you're doing it on your own; it’s one of those things you can’t really fuck up.”

My Mom Hates Us

Musical Recipe: two parts Mediterranean beatnick, one part gypsy, six-eighths rockstar, four-fifths funky junky. The sonic cocktail hits and we move from drunken bebop to morphine haunts. The vocals lay into the hypercool composition until “Tak-tak-tak! Wal athan ghatta sawt al-BOOM”. Firmly Arabic, firmly self-defacing and self-gratifying, this lyrical boom reflects Beirut: bombshells and seashells, summer sun and summer guns, the smell of flowers and the stink of political powers… Or maybe just “dibs ou t7eeneh” mmm…

The band is clear however that they are not to be classified as ‘Arabic music.’ “Musical style is independent of language,” Badr says, “I can be in a rock band and sing in German,” and, he’s right, it would still be a rock band, not a German band. When pressed to describe their style, they are grappling to find the words. “The rhythm section is more rock,” Badr offers, “the piano more latin, jazzy.” Papazian finally formulates something: 
“Our music is a funneling of day-to-day life in Arabic rock fusion.” No sooner has he said it though then the three begin squabbling again amongst each other, “But we’re not really fusion….”

One thing is for certain, and that’s the undeniable fact that Mashrou3 Leila’s music appeals to a wide swath of society, to young and old, and to more traditional and more experimental tastes alike. Why? “I think it’s because we’re easy on the ears,” Badr volunteers. Papazian offers a truism, “Different people like us for different reasons. We have different instruments, different layers,” something for everybody. Sinno adds, “I think people like to pick out what they want to listen to, and since we come from such different backgrounds, they always can find what they want in our music.”

That wide swath does not, however, include everybody. 
“My mom hates us,” says Badr.

One Day at a Time

“3aks al-ser, shou bek ya —” the song, Khoumassiah (named for it’s 5-4 time signature), drops silent leaving you to fill in the blank, the last word, the cussword: say it like you mean it, scream it to both curse and make love to the city you love to despise and hate to adore.

“And your future plans for Mashrou3 Leila?” I ask.
“Undisclosed,” responds Sinno.
“You mean undisclosed to us or to you?”
“Kil yom bi yawmo,” says Papazian, softly.

For the record, the band would like to clear up misconceptions about their name. “Leila is a girl that worked at Patisserie Baidoun that we all knew at different points in our lives,” Sinno tells me. Papazian continues, “She fell in love with a person from another religion and had to leave the country.” Asked what the Mashrou3 is, Badr says, 
“We formed this band to raise the money that Leila desperately needed for a breast enhancement surgery that would allow her to be reaccepted in Lebanese society.”

Mashrou3 Leila’s debut album should be available for your hard earned liras by mid december.

Monday, October 19, 2009

IN THE BASEMENT - والحياة تعود إلى لبناناباد

Few minutes for our concert to start. We’re on the stage [I still can’t figure out how we fit 7 musicians plus a gigantic drumset on a 2 x 2 sqm platform - trust me, the probabilities of having that aren’t much]. We’re setting up, and the crowd is waiting. These few minutes before everything starts are one of the best throughout the whole process, throughout the whole performance; everyone is waiting, even me - I want to hear it all over again - it’s already playing in my head.

tic-tic-tic-tic boom. An adrenaline rush through the head. I can’t control them - the hands perform as an impulse - not a reaction to anything anymore; they just move with the rhythm - the groove - the tic-tic-tic-tic boom - it’s already playing in my head. 

I have no control over my instrument other than the music that is driving my arms to move, my fingers to press against the strings, the bow to caress them and rape them - rape each other - the collision of the bow to the strings - me and the crowd - and everyone else. the sound would come out distorted - I can’t hear it well through the monitors on the stage -everything else is too loud; I hear the music in my head.

I close my eyes - 
I open them.
The music stops in a split second. The only thing that is left is us and them, present in the space.
Everything is over - yet I hear the music in my head.

This non-fiction [fiction] [postmodern / crap] text was brought to you by MORICO TV SHOPPING [don’t sell your soul to the masses, sell the masses to the masses]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BEIRUT SOUKS by raafat majzoub

here's a post from our buddy Raafat. check out his blog, some other great stuff there.

" first things first
second things whenever..
what developers don't get, i think - is that city centers are not developed in incubators of intellectual restriction - on the contrary, they grow into centers, to inflate and resurrect simultaneously.
the concept of {let's rebuild the old souks} just doesn't get processed in my little head. i am not interested to be categorized within the cult of anti-solidere, on the contrary...especially that now - i live on its periphery, "downtown beirut" is one of the most intriguing pseudo-urban slices you can find. i like the place, now that i stopped reading what people thought of it and who cried because of it. life is cruel, architects are monsters and investors are imposters to our lives, ok - but this is the only way that it could have happened - fullstop, shall we?
we as people living in beirut have learned to - ok, pause rewind, pause fastforward, zoom in - zoom out, chill - denial denial, melancholize...etcetera and so on, except here. the downtown that was molested by its own people was claimed private land by other people, who designed their fairytale --- -- its wierd, its fucked up - but it's beirut. recall forbidden cities, a.k.a southern suburbs of the beirut / recall the silk road, a.k.a hariri qoraitem residence / recall spears traffic, a.k.a barbar..but we all still go eat there and park like fuckiots / recall{{ I <3> }} a.ka. we wanna get drunk even if these rent-paying-aboriginals can't sleep to get up to go to work bukra..and yes we do like it.

people, get over yourselves, but i have a fundamental issue with solidere still, issues, not one actually - but majorly, the abuse of potential. take the souks for example - i do not understand what the input was to start out with, thus to me the architecture is invalid.
was it built on crumbs of ''collective memory'' ? if so, than mr.moneo must have been out of the game, giving the job to a lebanese architect with minimum requirements of..teta having a glass of fresh juice at the old souk .. at least then, he would have part of these memories in his make-up that this project would start to make quasi-sense.
was it build on traces of the old souk? if so - then how? aesthetic traces ... but then, it mimics an image - not a typology. .. it resembles a possible ambiance but tagtails it - dangerous, i think, because it tagtails something extinct. progressive architecture is an element in the production of any city center, ms/mr solidere... what is happening now? i am not against learning from the idea of the souq - but the souq is not about the flip-flop curves and possible archades, it looked as such because that was their once-contemporary building technique...let me make me some coffee as you tell me about the contemporari-ness of this bulk of a mall, we call a souk..4,3,2,1..
i was born in tripoli, i lost myself in tripoli, and yes - there, the souk still exists - i know what a souk is, not as an archi-fart, but as a person, that used it for a while - and this beirut reminisce does not remind me of a souk - i cannot use it as one, it is too blank, too bleh - too diagonally tiled that it angers me even..potential..potential...lost potential.
the entabli fountain, yay!! ok - now what? casper and gambini's next to it?the casper fountain..maybe in a couple of years -how can i stumble upon this souq without using the intended circulation? how can i hide there..make-out there..get lost there - maybe play hide and seek..maybe seek sounds i need,
D&G? you can not be serious.

i feel like a preacher now, and i will not continue, before someone pacifies me with the i will stop, my only hope being the big plant pots to sit on - without the king's guards of the holy souk come to tell me to ..shooo..shooo peasant "

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


MASHROU3 LEILA VLOG002 - THE CARL CANON from mashrou3 Leila on Vimeo.

can·on - pronunciation: \ˈka-nən\
Function: noun
a : an accepted principle or rule b : a criterion or standard of judgment c : a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
Carl loves his Tama.
He loves to shop from Zara and H&M - he likes to dress up.
He likes to take pictures - he finds kick ass cameras -LEIKA- from Souk el Ahad and fixes them.
He likes to make a lot of noise while he's playing on his drums.
He loves Muse. and radiohead. and arctic monkeys. and Kasabian. and -
He likes to be very meticulous while he's doing an architectural model for design - they're perfect.
He likes women - he is not single.
the guy just comes with certain standards, we have to live up to those :)
more about carl - soon -

Sunday, October 4, 2009