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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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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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.

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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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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