here's a translation from the author - Stefano de Noi
"Rock music, which originated in the United States and further improved in the United Kingdom, has gone the way of globalization, going round the world like the sirian barbat (the ancient instrument from which the lute, the biwa and all the modern violins and guitars are derived), and continuously adapting to the culture, history and the feelings of peoples it reached throughout its journey.
Art is freedom, and music could be considered as the highest expression of freedom among all the arts, as it is free to move, travel and evolve. Thanks to artists such as Mashrou3 Leila, music can show us how to be free by introducing us to diversity.
Mashrou3 Leila (i.e. Night Project, more or less) is just one of the pithy fruits born of different cultures, one of those precious gifts brought by globalization. Folk, rock, jazz, pop mix together with the classic Arabian music, giving birth to a flowing, unruly and deep “corpus”, rich in color and taste.
Succeeding in mixing different influences and sounds into a harmonious, easy-listening whole with a strong hold is the greatest merit of the guys from Beirut. Each song is a singable melody that makes a hit, though many-faceted, and sticks to the ears of Occidentals, not too accustomed to sonorities coming from the other shore of the Mediterranean. Don't let the melody deceive you, thinking of sweet-sounding lyrics and widespread superficiality, as the guys beat hard telling about the meanness of present-day and the horrors of the past… your only problem might be hey do it by blending Beirut slang and classical Arabic, so you will have to trust me."
Omar Al Zaani (1898-1961) was a revolutionary Lebanese poet that tackled several social, political, economical, and personal issues in a very comical way. When I first read some of his work, I was surprised that it was that old, it really was fun to read!
Tonight there's a tribute to Omar Al Zaani where there will be a book with a collection of some of his works, and a CD with some of his songs (I found songs by him that I already knew but had on idea that they were his) and there will also be a concert where Ahmar Qaabour, Tania Saleh, Mounir El Khawli, and us will be taking a couple of his poems and turning them into songs. Each one of us has around 12-15minutes. I was worried at the beginning, writing music for someone else's words is not something we usually do. We had a hard time to begin with, but then we relaxed and just though of the music, and Hamed adapted the words to songs beautifully. Tonight should be good.
It's at 8pm in the UNESCO Palace. Hope see you there.
Mashrouʼ Leila is not a bandʼs name. It is not a proper noun per se; Mashrouʼ Leila is Arabic for ʻan overnight projectʼ lusting out a microphone, a violin, a bass, two guitars, drums and keyboards. It started out as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut in 2008, an open platform for students of architecture and design, somewhere to experiment with sounds and make things audible. Haig Papazian, Carl Gerges, Hamed Sinno, Omaya Malaeb, Andre Chedid, Firas Abou Fakher and Ibrahim Badr have enjoyed this sound fetish savoring its façade of nonchalance and feeding on its lack of genre – sustaining their collective as Mashrouʼ Leila, an experiment.
You can hear Leila, cascading melts of masculine vocals only suspended with thrusts of violin, beats and bass – attacked by neurotic melody that means no harm – sometimes tender, even sometimes on pause. Through the music, you can smell where Leila has been, in bed sheets, on sidewalks, jasmines in riﬂes and spilled coffee on dresses as she made you play with aubergines, dancing her dance. Music has constantly been their place to play with things, to match and mis-match, a project.
In the various performances, Mashrouʼ Leila is a constant attempt to taste and produce, more than happy to harvest anyone from the audience as a guest in their encores. They have performed around Lebanon since 2008, playing in various venues in Beirut, taking over supposed public piazzas as well as clubs, pubs, hybrids and the such – they also played in Zahle, Sour, Jounieh, Saida and Deir el Qamar, each of which pushed forward their thinking about how to go about their music, lyrics and performance. It is only when Mashrouʼ Leila goes live, that you can actually catch a glimpse of Leila. As it talks to you of Beirut, the city that tastes of the absurd, the product of its day-to-day experiences, its stubborn security and lack of the latter, its musical bombshells, incoherent sexuality and thrusting pleasure…narcotic pain – as it brings forward hints of Arabic Tarab, rock, to folk pop, electro, you can see Leila in every man and woman in the silent- come-raving audience. In this trajectory, they participated in music workshops and concerts in Amman and Cairo to maneuver their way into a pan-Arab music scene, to know and to announce, more importantly to grow, musically.
In March 2009, Mashrouʼ Leila won the Lebanese Modern Music Contest jury prize and public vote organized by Radio Liban in partnership with CCF, Incognito and the Basement. They are currently recording their debut album with B-root Productions, to be released in December 2009. The music in the album is a reclamation of the aftertaste; sequel-ing a dose of Beirut.