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.

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“February Made Me Shiver” – Part 2

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 5.10.14 PMApart from all the production I had going on since February, which you can read about in part 1, I worked on some illustration again.
It was nice to take some projects that weren’t that corporate and where I could draw the way I liked something the clients would also appreciate.

Nineteen 84 called up, and we worked together on an illustration for a new Cadillac model they were bringing in.
I had to do it in a day or so, and draw the car as a quick model sketch.

On another hand, I was asked by a friend to draw something about a book she’s been writing which is very personal.
I won’t reveal the meaning behind it all, but I can say it’s about struggle.
This illustration only took 30 minutes to do, but I had to sit down in front of the paper for at least an hour or two before knowing how I’ll throw the ink on the canvas to do justice to what she asked of me. I wanted to do justice to the emotions she had for this.

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I also worked after that on something a bit less artistic, although it is a challenge in itself to find the right minimal images to suit big corporate business ideas: Visualizing.
I have been introduced to this technique by Carl from Coach Inc. Carl is a group coach and a consultant, who asks me to illustrate his meetings and corporate focus groups.
I unfortunately have nothing to show you on this one as the projects are confidential to respect the clients’ privacy, but on the next one, I’ll make sure to take a few snaps.

CAiro MLAnd one of my favorite jobs is touring with Mashrou’ Leila.
We went to Cairo again to play in the music tent.
This time was a bit different, as it was my second time in Cairo with them: I noticed some things about the egyptians I didn’t realize before: Cairo people, you know every word to every song, even the “3 minutes” that was released one week before the concert! You even sang louder than Hamed.
And egyptian teenage girls, I can’t even get over the fact of how high over a fence you can jump!

Dubai came next. The good thing about Dubai was reconnecting with friends. I got to see Rob from Delta Sound, crazy Isha, my lovely Sherine and many others. We got to meet some pretty cool ones too, including Steph, who took care of us royally!

The nice thing about having friends in a country where you tour, is that they make it feel like a vacation. Between the parties, the big group lunches, and the fact that we were walking around as a big pack, Dubai was amazing with the band.
To be a bit more serious and stick to the work: We opened the Dubai Design District, with John Newman in the line up too. The stage was huge, the sound was wicked, the VJs did an amazing job on the screens, I even saw Hamed turning around at some points to just watch the visuals flying behind him. But the most fun part of it all was the soundcheck in the sandstorm.

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The tricky thing about these 2 weeks with Leila was prepping for Beirut at the beginning of the week, flying to Dubai, then getting back to play in our home country, where things weren’t as ready as we had hoped and prayed for.
But in the end, the concert and the crowd’s energy was wonderful! The animations on the 360 degrees’ venue was something very trippy to experience to the sounds of Leila.
There’s also the factor of watching the band’s vibe before and after the concert when they play in the town they started in.

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Right after rocking it out with the band, partying after these awesome two weeks, I had to jump in directly with 4 hours of sleep to join my team at Sound of Music.
It was the first project I was doing with Clapping Hands and 2U2C, and the first theater/musical show I was producing.
Sound of Music made me realize the difference between a concert production and a theater one.
I always said it’s cool to have people from abroad who are always on the road, doing the same job as you, come in for a couple of days when you’re working on a concert, teach you a few tricks, have a couple of drinks, bond for a day or two and then leave. People you’ll never see again.
However, the first days of April were something different. You get to work with the same people, the same production team for about 10 days. Even more on other projects.

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So cheers to Guy who taught me a lot. To manage a team that big with changes and urges that occur every minute… I gotta hand it to him, he has the patience of a saint.
And to Steve who turned out to be a big brother, one of those decent ones. To Jamie “Thor”, my stage left partner. That left that was always more fun. To the rest of the crew and cast who were funny as hell wherever. And as much as I enjoyed working with this funny english team, I am extremely proud of the team I brought in for this gig. Especially that the previous team bailed out, and I had to get people at the last minute.
Luana, you were a rock. Ranwa and Maggie, I have never had funnier bosses. Chiara, Alex, Souheil, Lary and Gerard, I gotta hand it to you, if it weren’t for the calm ones in the team, this would’ve been crazy over the top!

So this was February, March and a bit of April.
Right before another tour with Mashrou’ Leila.

 

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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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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