„I am very uncomfortable living in cities that are not close to the sea and I am personally very attached to the ocean. It gives me a perspective, to see that there is next to me an open space where I look at the horizon, there is a sense of infinity“, says Zeid Hamdan from his location in Beirut.
If you start reading articles on the music scene in Beirut and Lebanon, there are certain names that always appear who have shaped the music scene to what it has become today. Zeid Hamdan is one of those artists who have been active in the scene for over two decades now, and he has not only produced many interesting bands and collaborated with a diverse range of artists, but also played an important part in creating a vibrant scene. In his new EP Mou7it which means Ocean in Arabic, you can clearly hear the sound of his characteristic indie-vibe electro-pop songs.
Songs about the Ocean
It is not the first time that Zeid Hamdan played with the notion of the ocean in his songs. With his band Zeid and The Wings he released a song called Ocean which he played in English, and which was released on their album Aasefeh in 2011. Ocean is very different from Mou7it. It is not only in English, and the sound is very upbeat and tight, it also delivers a different mood than Mou7it.
„I started writing the new EP since 2015. As soon as I finished the other ones, I was in the process of creating the new ones. I think that people following my work will maybe notice something in the sound and in the lyrics but I am in the constant process of writing music and producing it, but also hearing people around me producing music and I am inspired and affected by it. The sound keeps evolving around you, and also the situation and stories.“
The song Mou7it delivers, as many other songs written by Zeid Hamdan an important message that reflects the situation and development of refugees in the current crisis. The hopes, dreams and fears are reflected in Mou7it. It is electronically embedded with minimalistic beats and Hamdan’s guitar licks. The status of refugees in Lebanon, and their environment in which they have to live affected Hamdan’s lyrics in Mou7it on different layers. A music video for the song was released a couple of days ago which was directed by Zein El Cheikh.
Hamdan explains that:
„The country is hosting refugees, and the doors of the west are being broken by those waves of refugees. It created a mixed feeling of envy and sorrow. The guitar which you hear in the song starts like a clicking clock, building up a tension as the chord progression goes and opens up. It is a musical emotion which I had in mind, and then at some point there is a silence. This is the moment when reality is catching up. You are on the road, and the reality is not as sweet as you imagined, the harmony becomes dissonant.“
Cross the Ocean/Jump over this Wall/We have no other choice/Walk Day and Night
Let’s Carve Our Name/On the Rocks of the Bay/Let’s Wake the Spring Up/Let’s Dream and get Lost
New Influences and Musical Inspirations
„Around me, a lot of musicians are leaving the country as well, this inspired the song.“ Zeid Hamdan explains that Lebanon is a „particular hub of freedom. It is the most Europeanized country in the Middle East. We often have much trouble to travel, to get visas, and we have problems, but it is not as hard as it is for example for Palestinians, Syrians or Egyptians.“
Among the Syrian refugees there are many artists and musicians who have found their way into Lebanon. One of those bands is for example Tanjaret Daghet. A lot has been written on this band, and they have been quite successful in Lebanon, releasing a debut album in 2013, and they are working on a second album.
The influx of Syrian artists have changed the scene according to Ziad Nawfal, another important music producer in the business. „A lot of these artists who came from Syria had a big impact on the scene, a good impact, they revitalized and refreshed it and they made it a bit more competitive. Even though probably the biggest impact was on the hip hop scene, there has been an impact on the electro and indie scene as well“, argues Nawfal.
On the new EP, Zeid Hamdan is collaborating with Muhammad Abdullah from the band El-Morabba3 who recently won the award for the best indie song. On April 23rd the first Arab Nation Music Award (ANMA) took place which recognized the independent scene of the region by giving it a first award within the category „The best indie song“, the hugely popular indie band El-Morabba3 won this award with their song, Abaad Shwaii 1 (A Bit Further 1).
Muhammad Abdullah is a refugee himself and knows about the problems, the difficulties of their situation, and he is able to reflect through personal experience. The song Oulouleleh is not yet finished, but Zeid Hamdan explains that the song was inspired by the African Choir. The lyrics are based on Muhammad Abdullah’s personal experience and his situation in Jordan which is another story of a refugee facing restrictions on a daily basis.
„It is about his status as a refugee, without a paper, and without a home, the injustice that they are facing and how he is treated by the world. It is very deep and intense“
The song is released but not yet promoted. According to what Zeid Hamdan says it is a timely song with an important message to tell. There are familiar sounds, but he keeps experimenting with new ideas, sounds and voices to develop his style further.
He says, the time for releasing new songs is connected with the idea that the song should „survive the times and fashion.“ Three songs of Mou7it are available on Soundcloud, and Zeid Hamdan is still releasing his song this way, to make it accessible for his audience.