A Road Semester

IMG_2705 (1)IMG_2842Lebanon is a small cozy beautiful country. It’s also very corrupt and chaotic unfortunately.

So I packed a bag and booked a ticket for about a month, to go help out at Zuhair Murad’s Paris Fashion Show in January, pass by London a bit to see friends, and end up in NY for two weeks.

It’s now been three months that I left my small room (and my guitar, mind you), and I changed my ticket back about two times maybe. I’ve also not been staying put in the same place for more than 10 days. My friends have been more than helpful and welcoming, as some of you know, Lebanese people are known for their hospitality, refusing I’d take a place of my own.

I’m waiting for my flight out to North Carolina to visit my cousin. And I thought I hadn’t written here in a while and my freelance illustrations can wait a good 20 min, while I give this an update, just to not forget the beginning of my 2016.

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I’ve learned a bit more about lights in NY at le Poisson Rouge, allowing me to know what the next step would be on this particular road. I’ve been learning about music production too, giving me more insight on what I use in my daily work on stage, whether it’s about mics and cables or amplitude and frequency (and all those fancy technical words). I’ve been also working on my graphic skills, landing some clients here in NY, remembering my student years with branding and layouts…

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IMG_4930Thanks to Amy from the alt-J crew, I was able to join Boschi events as a production assistant and work on Three Dot Dash’s Just Peace Summit, a wonderful initiative by Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family Foundation. They basically round up 30 teenagers from around the world who have initiated projects that help bring peace to their communities.
We’ve also launched the Black Howl website. Black Howl is a community of freelancers, whose goal is to round up our clients under the same hub and keep the freelancers free. Make sure to check it out, and if you’d be so kind to show your support on all our social media platforms.

 

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It hasn’t been all work and no play though. We’ve seen Coeur de Pirate, and she’s even more mesmerizing live than on her records. My good friend Jason, and Jack even got me backstage at the Foals and Cage the Elephant concert in Rochester in March. It’s been so long since I’ve seen great rock, and a crowd that is that crazy. I’ve passed by Miami, saw the amazing Wynwood walls. If you ever go to that side of the world, make sure you try the alligator bites at Kush, and go to Space on saturday nights.

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From the Netherlands to Belgium

epica 2epica 3During Byblos International Festival, you see a lot of crews and people from different styles and different countries come in. You meet them, work with them and sometimes take a few drinks at the end (when you’re not passed out after work).
What I’ve realized is that all these people are nice. Whether they’re screaming death and scary lyrics into the mic, or just cursing at the public. The act differs but the heart is always there.
Epica’s band and crew were heart-warming people.

 

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I was actually pleasantly suprised at the music the guitarist Isaac was playing during soundcheck and rehearsal: sweet soft beautiful acoustic tunes…
And then, four hours later he was screaming in the mic and banging his head hard with the crowd.

Two days later we’re prepping for Stromae’s concert.
It has just sold out. The show will be huge, but also very hard for us. We have to make sure security measures are studied and respected.

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And the small whisper at the end: illustration surprise coming up. I’m keeping my word to myself.

 

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Step Out At The Cross

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Everything started off great with Byblos:

We’re a team of 9 people, including two runners and 3 interns. And we have about 3 sound guys from Delta Sound. Amazing people to work with.
The team seems to be synchronized. Everyone does their job, and even take initiative to help out on the obvious tasks.

Setting everything up, welcoming the grand piano like it depends on your life (it actually does). Tuning it, setting up the orchestra stage, helping out in setting the backstage up, making sure we’re ready for the doors to open on time…

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The opening night was smooth, we launched the festival with Lang Lang.

What’s amazing is watching and hearing 70 musicians tuning all at once: complete chaos right before they all play to one tune, one note… wow.

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On the other hand, due to different ways of working, different views on priorities… some clashes were encountered.
I worked hard for several months to launch Rubik in Beirut. The launching night was cool. But the road ends for me here on that.

Just following this was my trip to Paris. Working on the first days with Zuhair Murad for his fashion show. I needed to see something different. Everything gets prepared in 2 days. Casting the models, fitting the dresses to each model, meetings for sound, lights and music mixes. Hostesses on ground and security… All for a 10 min show. But that show… blows your mind. Every detail gives you goose bumps: the right music, the right model, the right light chosen for a single dress.

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Other than that, I advise you to visit Ballroom and Le Comptoir General whenever you’re in Paris for a drink. Weekends are better.

Water and Colors

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This week it’s mainly rain.
It’s a bit challenging to go out and draw, but the weather didn’t keep me home.

I went on to Notre Dame, following the GPS in my phone.
When I got there, I was amazed.

The first thing I saw is a homeless guy covered in birds, spreading bread or kernels or seeds all around him. The sight of that, just seen in movies till now, made me smile.

As I walked further and closer to the cathedral… I was struck.

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How big, how amazing, how detailed, how studied, how glorious that structure was.

Cathedrale I’m a lucky person. It wasn’t raining.
I was freezing, but water wasn’t dropping. So I sat down and brought the water to my notebook.

Putting the colors first, playing with the drops. And then, going around the whole details with the black ink.

Drawing gives me patience, and opens my eyes more to every little thing that something can hold.
At first you just see a huge cathedral.
Then you sit and you draw, and you see these gargoyles, these sculptures, this gothic architecture, this difference in sides, the colors…

You see it all. Just take the time.

Then I went inside. It’s been a long time since I’ve been inside a church.

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The statues, the colors and the vibes are just… breath taking.

Les Mots des Buttes

Buttes Chaumont gave me a story.
I woke up and just got there in twenty minutes. The drive to just get out and reach for inspiration made me fast. Faster than I ever was.
I walked around for a few minutes before picking a bench. And I wrote.
I wrote five chapters. I wrote the beginning of a story I didn’t know the end of.

I worked in production, I did some designs and illustrations and had some projects on that side. But writing was never something I had the courage to pursue. But that story has something different, we’ll see where that leads.

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Jardins de Bercy

Our original plan was to visit a building that was taken over by street artists before becoming an exhibition. But since the line for it was endless (literally), a friend and I went to a park that was nearby.

Every small space of the park was different. One had a small house, one was invaded by plantations, one had columns all around, the one facing it had purple flowers all over it…

I have a thing for parks. They’re soothing. Inspiring. Free. Spacious.
So I sat down and started drawing. That house was… cute.

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Started out with watercolor. Something was missing though. I always liked lines. Ink was then added.

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