Samer Zouein: A self-taught and passionate Lebanese bassist

One memory, in particular, remains vivid in his mind, and that's when a man in his forties told him: "You'll get somewhere."
by Zeina Nasser

10 September 2019 | 17:56

Source: by Annahar

  • by Zeina Nasser
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 10 September 2019 | 17:56

This handout shows Samer Zouein. (HO)

BEIRUT: Jim Morrison once said: "We [musicians] hide ourselves in our music to reveal ourselves,” which also describes popular self-taught bassist Samer Zouein's journey.

The 29-year-old bassist narrates to Annahar how "his curiosity as a 6-year-old boy triggered his interest to try some music tunes on the piano,” by imitating the lessons the music teacher taught his siblings. Music followed him, before becoming his lifetime career.

Having the violin in mind, and the guitar always in hand since he was 12 years old, he eventually found his passion in playing bass.

"I asked for an electric guitar but the music shop owner gave me a bass," he said.

Since then, he's sustained being self-taught musically, while holding his bass "in a unique way,” which proves how he learned it his "own way." 

“From then on, I continued playing the instrument and practicing alone," he said, adding: "After getting home from school, I would keep making sounds with the guitar strings until I fall asleep."

He even had a school band and feels "grateful for the encouragement he got from his school Saint Coeur Ain Najem."

"We were allowed to practice music on Friday afternoons and break times," he added.


INTO THE LIGHT

Zouein, who until now listens to any song and plays it without referring to music notes, embraced dark times to discover his own light.

Exchanging a number of routine office jobs after majoring in Advertising at the American University of Science and Technology in Achrafieh, he knew what he really wanted. He quit all that was not made for him, to find his real pathway in life.

"This cost me months of being jobless and it wasn't easy at all, but it was worth it," he told Annahar.

As he mentions how he totally "forgets himself in the moment" on stage, later seeing captured photos of him in another world of tunes, Zouein recalls watching concerts for Metallica and other bands as a teenager.

Back then, his love for music led him to effortlessly carry his guitar around, without a case, for months. "I used to visit my friends' place holding that 90$ guitar," he said.

LAKLAND HORIZONS

Zouein currently plays a Lakland 55-01 bass.

After changing several instruments throughout his career in around 40 bands, his Lakland is the "highest spec bass" he has. It has an upgraded pre-amp “nordstrand” and Bartollini Mk6 pickups."

He explained that the sound range it can provide him with now is huge, and it sounds very solid compared to other basses he owns.

On stage, when Zouein is playing his Lakland, the audience is like "waves" he can hardly distinguish between its drops, as he describes it.

"I see the horizon while I'm on my seashore; the theater,'' he says.

"People have this idea that the guitar is behind that sound leading them to dance, but it's actually the bass that's essential for that certain beat in every song," he added.

He then gave the example of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, "which wouldn't have been the same Billie Jean without the bass."

REACHING PLACES

Today, Zouein tours in Lebanon, Jordan, Dubai, Tunisia, Egypt, and other countries in the region. In recent years he toured Europe and was exposed to international musicians.

He's also known for being part of La Hon W Bass local Satirical TV show, and has recently participated in his first cinema experience in a movie, alongside the TV show host Hicham Haddad and the rest of the team.



One memory, in particular, remains vivid in his mind, and that's when a man in his forties told him: "You'll get somewhere."

This meant so much to a young musician who dreams of becoming a rockstar, and who continues playing music to challenge everyone who thinks it's a hobby that'll go away or a career that won't earn him a living.

He sees that what makes a good band and a good performance are "good characters with basic musical knowledge and a lot of charisma."

"90% of musicians fail due to their attitude,'' he said, insisting that a musician's success is composed of 30% musical talent and 70% attitude with people around him/her.



He believes that passion is crucial for the creation of music, unlike the case of today's music, which "has an expiry date." He added: "You listen to a song that is designed to become out of date after a few months, so that record companies would sell another song after that. It's just like any other market."

Zouein doesn't believe in the golden age of music. "Music is timeless. At any moment, in any era, someone somewhere is making golden music," he said.

While he likes all good music, regardless of its genre, he tends to appreciate rock more than anything else. "It's just raw, unprocessed," he noted, referring to meaningful lyrics along with music that lasts.

Maintaining his 150 concerts every year, Zouein plans on "adopting music concerts as an independent free desire he can perform whenever he feels like it."

To keep up with such an occupied schedule, Zouein works out, stays away from coffee, and stays hydrated. When he's not playing music, he loves extreme sports and adventures, such as racing dirt bikes, “motocross.”


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