Musiqa Mustaqilla’s ongoing series „In Conversation With“ continues with a talk between Musiqa Mustaqilla’s editor and Ahmad Farah, a singer-songwriter from Amman who started playing guitar almost 18 years ago.
MM: When did you first pick up the guitar?
Ahmad Farah: My story with the guitar starts in 2000. I met my guitar by pure coincidence because my brother had a friend leaving Jordan so he told him to take the guitar because there is no case to take it with him. My brother came with the guitar and I know it sounds a bit cliche, but it was love at first sight. I remember sneaking to my brother room just to admire how the guitar looks and sounds like and one day I promised myself that some day i’m gonna pay some of my bills from a concert. But before this big commitment I made with my guitar I had to know how to play it and it wasn’t an easy journey. I spent two years just understanding what every little piece on the guitar does.I didn’t study music and also my family is not that musical at all. They love music but not one of them picked up an instrument before. I just picked up my guitar and started learning by myself. I downloaded tons of music sheets and I locked myself in the room for days just learning tough songs and I learned it the hard way. Music is like falling in love but much harder because you have to do all the heavy lifting but at the end your instrument will do the rest.
MM: Do you write, compose and record the songs on your own? How long does it usually take from starting to write songs until they are released?
AF: Yes, I do all the things from writing to composing and recording. Most of my songs are live recorded and these type of songs are kind of an instant release. But when it comes to writing, some songs I write in matter of minutes and some songs stay at the back of my brain. They need some adjustment here and there and some songs will be like a reflex of improvisation.
MM: What are your songs about?
AF: I don’t like my stories but I fancy other people stories and I find art in general should talk about other people experience and how it could affect you in a way or another. I don’t want to be famous, I just need people to know the power of music and words, I don’t want to write about myself, but I love telling other people stories in a musical way. When it comes to „Yatagheer“, I wrote this song when I was in Morocco for a tour with a local band called (Jadal). I was alone in my room and I picked up my guitar and started improvising. The song basically is talking about the change and how people fight change while anything can happen in this world in form of a change.
„Maktoob“ is a dark-sweet song. I’m quoting here Janet Fitch „“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” This song blew up in a way I couldn’t imagine! This song is talking about disappointment. Disappointment in love, life and work it is about that moment when you write your hopes and dreams on a piece of paper. This song is about that battle between success and failure and how people react to it, sometimes in a good way or sometime in a destructive way.
MM: What inspires you when you are writing a new song?
AF: When someone comes to you and tells you „I have a story to tell“, you don’t shut this person down but you listen to it. This is what I try to do tell here. It is other people stories and I give those stories a tune and a sound. Most of my songs are talking about people I met. When they open up to me I find it really easy to describe their stories in form of a song more than me talking to them. Recently I met someone in Turkey and she is simply amazing but I couldn’t figure out what to say to her because I got smitten very bad and I wrote a song about her. I’ll release it soon. So I believe the fuel to my music is people.
MM: You mention on Facebook that you like other artists such as Damien Rice, Syd Barrett, and City and Colour, which other artists shaped your style?
AF: I like how Bob Dylan was just with his guitar performing to thousands of people and at that moment my love grew for solo music. I said to myself, I don’t need a band I want to be all alone on the stage, no one around me, just me and the guitar. I love Syd Barrett’s way of writing. It is so strange and simple. He is a very brilliant musician and until this day I listen to Syd’s music. When it comes to City and Colour – Dallas Green, this Canadian singer/songwriter opened up my eyes more about how I play acoustic guitar and how to produce the maximum sound from one or two chords.
Damien Rice could make you cry like a baby. His passion towards the lyrics and how he says the words when he sings is just out of this planet. I always say to people, listen to music and don’t imitate. Be who you are no matter what because out there people will love what you do and some people will hate it as well.