Charity, Wicker And Cheers

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This month started off with a charity event, Foot 4 a Cause: it was mainly the first time I stepped out and let the 4 a Cause volunteers choose the cause, come up with the event, contact the suppliers and make it happen. Of course, I had to tweak and push a few things, but the result was fine. I felt proud seeing that young team finally taking matters in their own hands and make things happen. I wish more people showed up and supported to their first independent event, but there’s always next time.

At the same time, I also took a job in a bar I love: Kissproof. I can’t stand being at home between projects, as a freelancer you sometimes get off seasons. And sitting at home doing nothing wasn’t an option. The team there is wonderful and different from any other team I’ve met or worked with in Nightlife. There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes, that give you a rush I look for on the ground in events.

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IMG_8187Mid-September got me busy with Wickerpark. I first went to this festival about 5 years ago for their first edition, and I fell in love. This year, I got closer to the family behind it, and I fell deeper. They asked me to come and help, and so I did, along many other volunteers. I can safely say it was one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable projects I’ve ever worked on.

On another hand, we’ve continued the advance on Beauty and the Beast, and this will be grand: a Disney broadway production coming to Beirut for the first time. It also will be the first project that is officially under Black Howl’s name. Black Howl being the company I recently opened to gather all projects under a same portfolio.

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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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And So It Goes On

Coming back from Paris straight to work. Taking back the Byblos Festival rhythm.
We welcomed back Yanni and his crew this year. Awesome people to work with. Learned a lot from them this year as I did last year.
The concert was amazing as expected.

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Then Massive Attack dropped in. Wow. The concert was mind blowing, maybe a bit more on a personal note. The messages, music, involvement of the artist…

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The crew was also superb. Took the load out a step further organizing the boxes in the truck, because of a massive load of equipment for that gig. The interns learned a lot too, on stage and in the pit with the crowd.
Even with a few setbacks, we managed to pull it off. The band was down to earth, and even opened up the backstage to some fans, taking pictures, giving autographs and lots of memories to be shared down the line. They opened up their backstage area to the volunteers of the palestinian camps which they visited the day before.

I have been looking at options to get out of Lebanon and explore more, as the situation here doesn’t help the industry and puts out a lot of limits on our jobs.

Next up tonight: Epica.

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But a small whisper on the side… a new resolution I have to make sure I keep: draw more.
Always (almost) did it for myself, and that should return.

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.

For The Kids

Being a freelancer means choosing the projects you work on, the hours you work on, the remuneration you work for and the style you work in.

Apart from the nightlife, nature and the NGO projects I’m doing, I am mostly an illustrator.
I’ve taken a new deal on: School books (and Ipad applications, let’s face it… it’s 2014).

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So, social studies, french and english stories and a whole lot for different grades. About 50 illustrations to be done in about a month and a half.
The schedule’s been tight, but I’m happy having an opportunity to explore the children’s style of illustration that I could offer.
The clients like them so far, which is what I was worried about most. Apart from sticking to the deadlines.

It’s been hectic but exciting on the other projects, all will be revealed on here soon.

Stay With the Good Vibes

Before the big BOUM we started last week, we were on the road again, testing waters for a project I want to launch soon.

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We gathered up with some friends and the result wasn’t that good on the goals I have set for that day, but the vibes and enthusiasm were there.
So we took the first step, and we’ve learned from our mistakes so we can take the next one. The team is ready to go forward, they’re really hyped on it actually. I can’t reveal more for the moment, it’s just one more teaser for you to sit on the edge and wait for that idea I’ve had in mind for a couple of years now…

Imagephoto3On another note, I have been working with Wissam to finalize the product that gym has been wanting with a small idea of the place and the limitations or freedom we had.

We worked on a first draft, and from that we were able to pull out from our client the exact feel they wanted. It wasn’t really what we have worked on, but we knew exactly (pretty much) what they’re expecting.
We’re back on track for that, and are clear of the direction we’re going in now.

Finished up the week with a 4 a Cause meeting to get our year started again. This time, I’m giving the reigns to my team of volunteers. They have learned so much in the past two years and it’s about trust. (Let’s hope they don’t screw up!) There will be music, but not as you’ve already seen/heard it in our past events. We just believe music is a mean that unites people no matter what.

It works perfectly for our country when we see, every weekend, people getting on the dance floor to the beats of the DJ or people at the bar in front of the small bands on stage, and forgetting their political and background differences at the door!

Let’s hope this time, the means for unison will grow larger.