“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.


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.



Closer & After

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The closer we got to event day, the latter we worked on site.
This was not specific to this event. And I don’t think it’s specific to this job either.

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Being on site as the night fell, watching the immensity of the venue under the warm night sky of Al Ain gave me a certain serenity.
It is during after hours and on ground that you realize how dedicated you are to the success of a project.
It is also at night when all is calm, and the project is so big that you are reminded how small you are but how big of an impact you can have. This is not about work, it’s about how fierce you can be.

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The planes slept quietly in their hangars. Neatly put away.
The food court was ready and clean.

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The grandstands and tents were standing tall under the stars.
The runway was empty and endless.
The staff was hardworking.

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photo 3-1I witnessed the build of the 16m swing today.

It’s not done yet, but it’s interesting to see five men building it under your eyes from scratch.

They had two days to finish it.
They started at night.

It would be mind blowing to see them finish on time.

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Trouble In The Sky

photo 5-1Got up troubled today, couldn’t hear the alarm. So I had to skip a big breakfast, pack lunch and catch the shuttle to go on site where the rest of the team was already.

As soon as I arrived – and after waiting half an hour at the gate for the airport security to clear me – rain started to pour. Then it really got heavy. So workers ran to shelters, we tried to stop water from flooding our site office, and well… watched as a small “river” gathered around our huge site.

It didn’t rain long though. And good news came after.
Electricians were doing an amazing job, got that off my mind. This was the biggest issue they had. We’re almost done with that.

I then took care of getting some furniture to the pilots’ hangars.

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Amazing how they build them and put them together.
How they roll the main body out of the container, then putting the wings on, and that other stuff – I don’t really know what they’re called.
I’ve wanted to be a pilot in the past, so that is a real treat.

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The Airport Site

photo 3Today’s my official first “work day” on site. Yesterday was just to get acquainted.

Compared to the sites I’ve worked before, this is like 10 times bigger. It’s more professional too.
Workers and suppliers are more organized. In some way.

Wicked tents, big container rooms, nice on site offices, one dome, huge grandstands and runways… Plane runways.

Working on an airport site is proving to be a bit of a pickle though.
We can’t get our laptops or cameras in without a letter that takes a few days to be issued. We get searched every day at the entry, which is fine and standard, we’re just not used to it.
It also would be less annoying if we could take our laptops in at once, since we need them for work.

The security forces are giving us a hard time, getting in suppliers, permits… just because they can. Feels like kindergarten when we actually have to call their supervisor to put them back in place.
A lot of misunderstandings and missed appointments from suppliers are getting on the team’s nerves. But I think starting tomorrow, it’ll all kick in faster. It has to anyways.
I’m taking care of the power situation on site, since the people on the team here don’t understand arabic, and that thing has been going back and forth for quite a while. We should have power tomorrow. Hopefully.

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Food booths are here, starting to set up.
Waking up at 6 am and getting to work until 5 pm feels like hell.
We thought it was 3 pm when it was only 11 am. The days are gonna be long.

The Air Show

Image 1 - 2011 Al Ain Aerobatic ShowClosing up the 4 a Cause project, I got my full focus back on JK58’s upcoming projects.
Jean Carl and I will be working on the 10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show in Abu Dhabi this November.

The project is new to me. I was only used to music, so having that on next is exciting. Especially since I always loved planes and had been fascinated by them, once I started looking at small private ones in some old family pictures. I actually grew up sometime with the desire to own a small old plane one day.

Revisiting the whole Health & Safety and production on this project is a whole new aspect for me to learn on.
Al Ain, bring it on!


photo 3After having to deal with devastating moral attacks, destructive financials, lack of trust from other clients and suppliers not knowing the whole truth… the office has been down.

To personally watch what I have built with Savio and Roy in about 8 days on site get torn in an afternoon. I didn’t want to help. I just sat and saw. Couldn’t help, couldn’t stop it.

That doesn’t mean we’re not working hard to get back on our feet. We’re planning for a good comeback.
Jean Carl went to Dubai for some meetings, trying to fix some details and resolve new deals.

I’m taking the time to chill a bit, wrap my head around some issues and take the time to build myself up again before hitting it hard with the comeback. That’s what I’m calling it in my head.
Because what we’ll build after this month has to be big and stable for us to gain the public’s hearts back.

On the other hand, I still got Music 4 a Cause I’m preparing. Still signing a few acts before revealing it all.