2015 going on 2016

My absence on here has been long, and I’ll try not to forget anything that happened during these past two months.

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After we launched our company Black Howl, we focused on 4 a Cause again and threw that Smile 4 a Cause party to help out Global Smile Foundation. Our friends and other new friends showed up to that cool party, the music made sure of it anyways, and Romax, MAK and Padawan made them dance all night!

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We even launched our website before the end of the 2015 year. It was the first website I designed and I think it holds everything we do as a team and an organization. Make sure to check it out here.

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As those charitable work came to an end, I had been cooking a small plan to learn more about live production and live sound. That small plan worked and I got to join alt-J on their last leg of the tour. I wish I had planned sooner and got more time with them, but touring the UK with them has been a practical lesson and an eye-opener to my work.

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AWGComing back to Beirut, I had to check on a project I delegated to my team; Aziza‘s show. This was a very pleasant surprise, on both sides: discovering a new local talent and knowing that my team pulled it off while I was in a different country.
We also teamed up with Jim Beam for Brit Floyd’s show in Biel. That show has been coming to Beirut every year, and selling out every year. Some locals complain that they want new names and that recurrence is ridiculous… but, let’s face it. If it works for a promoter every year, why not? I can personally say, the lights on that show are breath taking.

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IMG_1833We finished up the month with helping around a TV show production for New Year’s. It was two hectic tiring days. Let’s say I still prefer the live music production over a TV production, but it was good checking out how other genres or teams work.

As I handed an illustration job that I can’t unfortunately show you, my focus shifts to more personal goals and some free time. I can’t reveal much, other that I’ve been talking about this personal project on the blog for more than a year, and I’m getting tired of it being just talk, but I think once it’s out, the satisfaction of crossing that finish line will be fulfilling.

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We Howled

12191244_10153700606524441_3270678984639402925_o12184115_10153711101029441_1532758742879931641_oOctober and November mainly focused on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the original Broadway musical show.

I couldn’t unfortunately take a single picture of Disney’s Magic, but here are some I could show you.

I could have never imagined dealing with so many problems on a daily basis. At the same time, it makes me so proud of having a team of people working as hard as myself.
We met some great people on this project: the difference between working a concert and a musical is the amount of time you spend with the same team. We’ve hung out and worked with this group for 3 weeks, give or take.

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In addition to that, I launched my company (at last) at the end of the show: make sure you visit Black Howl.

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It’s a hub of freelancers, mainly working in the creative and production departments.

Another good news about these 2 months I could share today is my certificate of Music Business, passed after taking online courses with Berklee.

As for 4 a Cause, we party this Friday for Global Smile Foundation at Behind the Green Door. You can donate to this cleft lip palate cause through ihjoz.

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Charity, Wicker And Cheers

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This month started off with a charity event, Foot 4 a Cause: it was mainly the first time I stepped out and let the 4 a Cause volunteers choose the cause, come up with the event, contact the suppliers and make it happen. Of course, I had to tweak and push a few things, but the result was fine. I felt proud seeing that young team finally taking matters in their own hands and make things happen. I wish more people showed up and supported to their first independent event, but there’s always next time.

At the same time, I also took a job in a bar I love: Kissproof. I can’t stand being at home between projects, as a freelancer you sometimes get off seasons. And sitting at home doing nothing wasn’t an option. The team there is wonderful and different from any other team I’ve met or worked with in Nightlife. There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes, that give you a rush I look for on the ground in events.

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IMG_8187Mid-September got me busy with Wickerpark. I first went to this festival about 5 years ago for their first edition, and I fell in love. This year, I got closer to the family behind it, and I fell deeper. They asked me to come and help, and so I did, along many other volunteers. I can safely say it was one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable projects I’ve ever worked on.

On another hand, we’ve continued the advance on Beauty and the Beast, and this will be grand: a Disney broadway production coming to Beirut for the first time. It also will be the first project that is officially under Black Howl’s name. Black Howl being the company I recently opened to gather all projects under a same portfolio.

August Breathers

IMG_6827 (1)IMG_6816August kicked in with two concerts working in parallel. It allowed me to test my team, without me being on ground or even available to solve or help around:
Luana (my right hand) and the “minions” took care of Hiba Tawaji’s rehearsals and concert at Byblos International Festival, while I was working in Beirut with Mashrou’ Leila for this gig at Beirut Holidays in Biel.
I also got to initiate a friend in production on the Beirut concert. The result on both concerts was satisfying on our side, even though we hit a few bumps with the teams we’ve worked with.

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Most of the festival team was waiting for the final band to arrive, as they were all big fans.

IMG_7211 (1) IMG_7251I was highly grateful to discover that this amazing band was humble and down to earth, and so respectful and nice to the people working around and with them: Alt-J.
Some were disappointed by the live performance and their presence on stage, but I don’t know what people expect in the indie rock scene. The lights were stunning, the drummer’s performance was breath taking, and the whole band’s live music was really nice!
Sitting down before and after the show and talking about music, art and life with the band and the crew was a great finale to this August month.
I was really glad the team got to enjoy that, it was a small reward to all our interns and young stagehands after 2 months of hard work.
Plus, I got to introduce Melow to Joe, while talking about lyrics and pain and dealing with the pain this past year.

IMG_6971This month gave a bit more breathers than the last, and I got to witness a big bro, Rabih Salloum, getting married to the wonderful Sarah Hermez.
It was heartwarming and so unique, especially when everyone respected the “sneakers” dress code and grandmas showed up in dresses and adidas.

At the same time, I’m really proud to say that Diane, a young 4 a Cause volunteer, is managing our next event, which is a bit different from the rest, and supporting an awesome cause about cardiac arrest with young athletes: Foot 4 a Cause, supporting Remy Rebeiz Young Heart Foundation.
If you’re in Beirut and play soccer, join us on September 6th and support the cause.

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On a small note, I started working at a bar, just for the fun of it, and to have a bit more on my hands when I get breathers. Because in the end, we’re not young to have breathers.

“February Made Me Shiver” – Part 1

I have been sitting for at least 30 min at Kissproof playing with a puppy instead of getting myself to write this post, since I don’t even know how to begin anymore, having been absent for at least three months.

So maybe I start gradually.

February fell hard on all of us, with the loss of a close friend/sister/little apprentice/champion. And I don’t know if it was that or other painful experiences that gave me the drive to distract my mind with work, but I guess it has been working well for most of the time.
Little one, I was sitting with your godmother at your house. We had a song together a few years back. Don McLean’s American Pie. She was in Dubai when you left us, and she sent me the song. But on that night, two weeks later, in your house, she said to me: Look at the lyrics. “February made me shiver”.
That simple coincidence pinched our heart and made us smile at the same time.

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A colleague of mine got me in a production team for a future show called RKOD produced by Iron Heyoka. I got to taste the difference between what you can call film production and show production. It’s safe to say I prefer concerts and music. The rush is just bigger.
Not to be unfair or mean, the work was interesting, the team was fun to work with but… there’s just that running-around-not-sitting-still-for-even-a-second that you don’t get in concerts that I’m just addicted to.
However, brace yourselves for RKOD which will be out when the time is right.

rtrippingThe reason why I had to work on RKOD was for me to understand how a TV show works, since the surprise I have been teasing about on this blog is another TV show I have been dying to reveal. But in order to deliver a good product, good work should be done in the right time.

However the picture can maybe make you guess a bit, since I document most of what I do for this blog. So, that was another project I worked on for the past three months in collaboration with Iron Heyoka.
This one is also going to honor you Melow.

IMG_1689Speaking of Melow, February made us shiver, but also woke us up in many ways. Melanie was a volunteer at 4 a Cause in its early beginning. Her sister and some of her friends joined the team recently, and the old ones all agreed that our next project will go to fund a charity organization her family is trying to open in her name. She believed in helping the less fortunate, she worked with charities organizations and always fought for what was right. We don’t have more information on what is coming up next, but we thought we could star
t by raising funds for the upcoming project, which we trust will reflect the same guidelines we go by. She went by the same.

10995704_929496773757156_3705217952851407934_oSo we threw a party at Behind the Green Door, and we marked our t-shirts with her name on it.

I taught Melanie back in scouts, that in the indian tribes, the right arm was believed to be the strong arm because it was located on the heart’s side.
So we put her name on the right sleeve.

Another good news related to 4 a Cause is Sara Khatib’s dream coming true.
Sara Khatib was an inspirational young woman who left us too early last summer. 4 a Cause threw a concert in her name if you remember Music 4 Sara. You can actually check out a quick sum up of the event on this video produced by Hadrien Bechara.
One of her goals was to open a support group for amputees in Lebanon, since she couldn’t find one herself.
With our help and yours, the funds raised during that concert went straight to her family who worked hard on opening: Look Forward, Sara Khatib’s cancer and amputee association for the youth. Make sure to check it out, and like the page to support this incredible initiative.

On another production side, I have been hired to take over a job I can’t find a right title to with Buzz Productions, for the Byblos International Festival.
I was usually outsourced on this festival as a freelance production assistant these past two years.
This summer, I’ll be working with the routings, schedules and the care of the artists and their teams.
Buzz Productions already announced their first two acts: John Legend and The Script.
The rest of the line up will be revealed soon.

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This post has been going for too long now, and I should cut it in half, in order not to bore the life out of you.
The other half will be following this upcoming week.

 

2014 Ended with Sara, a Tour and Some Sketching

Last day of 2014, summing it up with some pretty awesome projects:

Mashrou’ Leila‘s tour added a last and additional date in Napoli. The people were nice, the hotel was genuinely beautiful, Napoli was unique and hardcore, we even got a day to visit Rome at the very beginning. I would recommend anyone who visits Napoli to go try Pizzeria de Michele: Small place, big line and an amazing pizza!

The band had a lecture at the university of Napoli, on the morning of the concert. I think it was interesting for the students to know a bit more about how music in the middle east is different from Europe and America, especially the impact it can have. The room was full, questions were asked and opinions were discussed.

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The concert was organized by the municipality in Plazza del Gesu (if I’m not mistaking) and seeing people get closer to the stage, get off of their cafe chairs and rounding up to enjoy the music was very cool to witness. The boys gave the closing concert for the Cultural Forum of Napoli.

Back in Lebanon, I had to finalize some deals and details with the 4 a Cause team and sponsors to make Sara Khatib’s concert happen. We had a few bumps on the road, but I think her friends and family enjoyed the event. It was too emotional for some, but hey, we were there to celebrate her life, through music, film and pictures.

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Apart from that, I’ve been sketching up on the road while on tour, but also took a decision to prepare something good, blowing up colors on canvas. Let’s see where this goes. Especially that a gallery contacted me to see if they could be a fit for my work. Colors will splash.

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On The Road With Leila’s Boys

Leila 4I was put to the test as a roadie with Mashrou’ Leila.
As a recap of what I’ve been trying to do for the last year: get a spot on a touring crew.
And it’s funny enough that I haven’t searched first with the band that’s closest to home, just thinking they didn’t need anyone.
But after working together on London Grammar’s concert in Beirut, they offered to try me out.

And so it started.

 

After my vacation in New York, I joined the guys in Rabat (Morocco), London (UK), Cairo (Egypt) and Istanbul (Turkey). Four concerts and a BBC shoot in London for one of the songs.
It went pretty well. I admit there are a lot of stuff I could do more, but it will come with time, as this is my first taking more on my plate that I am aware of.
A small inside look on the guys: despite rumors of snobbish and ungrateful relations, I was joyfully surprised by their respect, manners, love and dedication to the music, fans and people they work with, even if it’s just a few hours. I am more than grateful to be part of this particular team.

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Apart from the roadie work, I’ve been managing my 4 a Cause team to get the December projects up and running.
Music 4 Sara is the first: we’ll be celebrating Sara Khatib who unfortunately passed away this summer. The event will focus on how amazing and inspiring she was and still is, but also on her life goals that her parents and friends are continuing to achieve for her.

photoThe second is the first of, I hope, many campaigns: The (4) campaigns. This one will go to support Myschoolpulse, an organization that sends tutors to five hospitals in Lebanon, aiding 108 kids with life-threatening and chronic illnesses. It’s about education and support.

We partnered up with Orient Express and Radio Beirut, to sell the fundraising bracelets for that cause. Donations boxes and bracelets are already there.
Spread the message, we need your help!