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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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.

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.