End of the Road, Heading Home

fullsizerender-3The last shows I can talk about for April were extraordinary.
One was in Lebanon, on which my Black Howl team hopped: the Beirut Madinati fundraising concert. That group was different, fighting for what was right, gave a lot of hope for Lebanese people, inspired change. So you could imagine how honored I was when they called me to get Black Howl on board. I wish I had been in Beirut for that, but this was the first project where I tested my team. Let’s say I was proud all the way from the US.
The second was in NY, and I got to be on board of the production team, with Boschi Events, delivering the We Are Family Foundation‘s gala dinner, honoring U2’s Bono and President Jimmy Carter.

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I also had the chance to gather a few bands for a private dinner. Make sure you check out A Case For Brooklyn.

May was about relaxing, saying goodbye to NC, FL and NY, having a pit stop in London, embracing friends that live around the world…

I was fortunate enough to join Jason to learn how to prepare the gear for a tour. Jason is Two Door Cinema Club‘s current stage and backline manager, and when I’m around, he always has me on board, teaching me a lot of things we don’t have the chance to learn in Lebanon.

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The last night to my long trip was more than perfect: a friend I met on Byblos, another roadie, called up and told me he had an extra ticket to Radiohead’s sold out show and the after party. So I tagged along Robbie Williams’ and Muse’s roadies and went to see one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Maybe Radiohead being my favorite band had a lot to play in that.

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The summer in Lebanon was near, and that meant tackling our festive seasons with the numerous concerts coming up and being fully active again.

The first 4 months of 2016 were about travel, but it also was about therapy, getting lost in order to find myself, discover and learn new things. As I was settling back in Beirut, I noticed I didn’t like sticking to my old routine of going out to the same places every day and night. Beirut could have that toll on you, as it’s small and you all know the same people, who eventually hang out in the same places. Waiting for big work to kick in, I tried to embrace daylight rather than nightlife, I met new people, I put a stop to daily bars and dinners… I visited places in Lebanon I hadn’t been to in a long time, I camped more, giving nature the time I always thought it deserved. More importantly, I crossed off a bucket list point, and a fear I wanted to get over: Climbing.

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And as I can never stay away from work, I had been preparing a concert in Lebanon with my team, while I was abroad: Adonis at the Beirut Spring Festival. It was sort of relaxing to have a team I could count on, and just land in and see them set up and get things done to deliver a good show.

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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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Later May Posting

IMG_3322Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.43.17 AMAfter Mashrou’ Leila’s April tour and Sound of Music, we ended April with a DJ gig with Poliakov.
I’m not particulary a fan of DJs and electronic music, but James Zabiela was a bit different I guess. He creates everything on the spot, and seeing him play was like watching a kid plays with his legos and games. His energy was superb, and he was adorable with the public, taking the time to go around and take pictures with almost everyone.
Working as a freelancer in Beirut, you get a little time off from time to time. May was pleasant and slow, after a rush of two months, with gigs back to back and so little sleep. Took part in a charity event, a rallye paper with my former university ALBA, followed up on my music lessons before going back to small work.
May started with an event done in memory of Melanie, a young “sister” we all lost in February. She was an outstanding athlete and music was a big part of her life, so her friends put together a rugby tournament in her name and ended it with a concert with Loopstache, Adonis and the Coolcumbers, who in my opinion aren’t known enough. Melow, you were missed.

The road called again at the end of May, and I joined Mashrou’ Leila on a small tour again: Montpelier was quiet and cozy; the concert at Festival Arabesques was not as quiet though. We then boarded for the World Village Festival in Helsinki, Finland. We were surprised by how calm the city and the people were there. The biggest surprise was watching the crowd gather from all over the festival area and reaching around 10,000 people dancing to Leila’s tunes, pulling out their umbrellas and jumping under the rain to the same rhythm as Hamed. We sold out the CDs there. Helsinki was an awesome surprise!

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Paris was kind of like a pit stop in that small tour. We all know this city well and have family and friends all around, it didn’t seem like a hassle. The Institut des Cultures Islam is a small venue, it sold out fast to 180 people. The concert felt like a private jam session with friends. The tour ended with Bern in Switzerland, playing at Bee-flat Turnhalle. We didn’t have much time there, but we made an effort to finish soundcheck fast and walk around. I personally liked it. Clean and tidy city with an awesome view after the town’s square.

IMG_4360The concert was pretty fun there, especially after we were treated to an awesome dinner backstage with the crew, and a race between Firas and Bob to see who would hit Snapchat first. I was reminded of my mom asking me what facebook was when I had to explain to the guys what Snaps were and how it worked.
Between the gigs, hotels, quick meals on trains and planes, Firas and Carl playing on my Trivia Crack, I value the time I spend with these guys and having this job that allows to see much more than you expect.
Went back to Beirut, leaving the band to record their fourth album, which by the way, will blow your mind.

Oh, and my brother graduated from Med School.

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!

Leila’s Down The Road

As you might know already, my absence is a reflection of loads of work.

I’ve been working real hard on this “surprise project” I’ve been keeping from all of you.

Following the London Grammar gig, Vincenti’s wife called me up, announcing she needs me on her project.
So I’ll be doing this one with Clapping Hands at the Casino du Liban in February: The Sound Of Music.
If you’re a fan of musicals, the movie, or just music… there are nine shows in February for this great musical from the UK.

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Apart from that, I met up with Mashrou’ Leila’s manager, Karim, and they’re testing me out in their upcoming tour this November. If it works out well, that will be my door to the roadies, as they call them. It was the next step for me, something I’ve been searching for, for at least a year. And well, it’s here. Let’s hope I don’t screw it up so I’ll get more to come. The team is nice, respectful and focused. My kind of “colleagues”, it’s a good start.

Finally, we shot a campaign with some friends for 4 a Cause. It’s a different approach to raise awareness about our local causes, given that we’ve only focused these last two years on events.

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