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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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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Lebanon’s Festivals, Sunny July

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July started out with Liban Jazz’s gig for Bombino. I had to work in the Music Hall Waterfront for the first time, which is maybe the most beautiful venue I’ve seen in a long time. This was also a test for me on Liban Jazz, as it is usually run by one person. The band was nice and fun to be with, and the music was different from what I usually work with. All in all, it was a good show.

IMG_6606IMG_6486 As the festival got closer, I met up more and more at the Buzz Productions’ office: this year, my job was different on Byblos International Festival. I had to take care of operations rather than production. Wether it was transportation schedules, routing for bands, airport paperwork or even the streets’ marketing spread.
Although, I deployed my young production team at Byblos, under a different production manager’s name, at the last minute. So, I’m working even more backstage on backstage preparations. This is a test to what I can handle on a bigger plate, as it is the biggest project I have ever worked on these past three years. It’s also about me testing a young team of production assistant, site manager, runners, stagehands and interns, that I have no doubt will prevail to what is expected of them.

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We greeted and produced various artists this July:
John Legend and his extraordinary team of musicians and technicians,
The Script’s mind blowing show and charisma, they knew how to make a crowd road,
Rodrigo Y Gabriela which were one my greatest discoveries this year, but who also discovered our local Safar band, and falling in love with Mayssa’s beautiful voice, calling her up on stage to join (sadly, she wasn’t present at the concert),
Gregory Porter who were just so funny to meet and work with, apart from having this huge amazing voice,
Mireille Mathieu who still kicks it at this age, and who went back for a second encore to a loud crowd, in her night gown and barefoot,
Hiba Tawaji and the Rahbani brothers, who enchanted as a local pride,
And Sacré Profane which was an interesting challenge for us to set up in a small church and garden for an opera show.

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IMG_6310Right in the middle of Byblos’ Festival, we also had to work on Jim Beam’s Rock Festival. There was a stressful challenge for me to pull on this one with my team, because of last year’s problems: the schedule had to be respected with the local line up for the international band to play right on schedule and for the public to enjoy as many bands as they could. Although I am proud to be Lebanese, we all know most of us are always late, never respect timings and have a tendency to take details lightly in this industry. We had 7 bands on stage, and I am very proud to say that the first band delayed us by 10 min, which we made up for in 5 min changeovers, and were even early to greet Meen on stage. In the end, Glenn Hughes was on stage right on time, and rocked the hell out of it!

Another festival I got to work on, even if for a very brief and small touch, was Jounieh’s: a friend and artist, Poly, asked me to help her out at her opening for Jessie J’s concert. The cool thing about this, was discovering that her performance is not only musical, but also visual and very detail oriented. Keep an eye out for her, her videos are amazing to watch blasted behind her while she sings.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.19.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.52.06 PMOn another side of my motors, I got to work on design and illustration projects:
I helped out a friend with a Volvo pitch for the launching of a new car. Drawing boats and cars was a small change from what I did for the past months.
Added to that, one of my old girl scouts, who happens to be a chief now is taking her whole unit to camp in England. She called me up, asking for a logo for the voyage. The result is maybe one of the coolest logos I ever did, and had to finish in one day.

“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.

 

Luana Is Already Singing The Hills Are Alive

This month has been slower than others, but the rhythm has picked up lately with three projects.

FullSizeRenderI teamed up with a new production company Iron Heyoka for the surprise project (since we’re calling it that). It’s moving forward pretty fast. I’m mostly excited about this one, seeing the results and bringing a baby I’ve been waiting for, for the last two years, to action.

At the same time, the Sound of Music show is coming up. Luana and I met up with Guy, the production manager from the UK, to touch base on some points.
We move from mails and documents to on ground production on Saturday.
The challenge this time is managing a whole team for a show, from A to Z.
This is not just a one night concert, and I’m not just managing the stage or assisting the production manager.
Let’s hope all goes well and I won’t have to hide under a rock after that.

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As for Mashrou’ Leila
The guys have been working hard on their fourth album. I guess I’m just proud to just watch that journey.
They also managed to launch a campaign with Absolut, which will allow the public to write lyrics and create a storyboard with the band for an upcoming single.
Which explains the #ma3Leila tag (#withLeila).
Unfortunately, having the Sound Of Music show at the same time of their next concert dates, I won’t be able to join them in Paris and Torino.

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First, Step Up

Needless to say the concert was awesome. What blew everyone’s mind was how incredibly talented and amazing it was despite their very young age. The crew was also very easy to work with. We had some minor difficulties to set up, having the opening band Mashrou’ Leila with a very different set up to change in less than 10 min: we did it in 8!
Both bands’ crews were happy with my team’s work, and that’s something to look back on with a smile.

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The show might be the cheery for most of the people that were in Biel, but being congratulated on an awesome job when it’s your first time doing it on your own as a head of a team is what made this an incredible middle-start for me.
Sure, there were some mistakes and “holes” here and there, due to the lack of experience on some other people we were working with, but we pulled it off, helping wherever we can once we were done with our tasks.

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And… on the next day, I had to get up (with what was left of me of energy and what not) to finalize some details about my upcoming surprise to Lebanon. All that’s left to do before the revelation is funding.
Stay tuned…