BEIRUT: Rayfoun is a small village in the Kesrwen District of Mount Lebanon where Lebanese experimental post-rock band, Kinematik, first started playing together, and where their drummer, Akram Hajj, and previous member, Gerard Rechdan, came back recently with a festival that was musically vibrant and showcased a tremendous amount of local talent in both electronic and live band acts.
Annahar had the chance to go backstage at Sounds Good Festival, and talk to the bands that made the festival possible and get inside details on their creative process, group dynamics, and upcoming projects.
Consisting of band members Julia Sabra, Marwan Tohme, Rany Bchara, and Pascal Semerdijian, Postcards are a dream pop/indie rock band who were also working on the sound team at the festival.
-You currently have three EPs, “What Lies so Still,” “Lakehouse,” and “Oh the Places We Will Go,” and you also had your first full-length album “Bright Lights” out in 2018. How did your music evolve and grow throughout that?
Julia: I think it was mostly a shift in how we listen to music, and the first EP was very much a product of instinct. With time, listening to the right kind of music, and as we grew as musicians and music listeners the style naturally evolved to something we felt more comfortable with.
Our first EP, we just went into the studio and Fadi Tabbal just guided us along but starting with the second EP while we would write songs we would also do sessions with him and he would lead us through it, and now he’s like the fourth ghost member of Postcards.
-Your album cover had an interesting artwork, different from the ones you had before. It had a picture of two people overlooking the beach. What was the reason behind that?
Julia: The idea was we didn’t want to put the Raouche rocks, (but) that’s not the point, I think the meaning of it with the two people looking on to the sea, fits the album and parallels it musically. It’s the feel of the picture what matters to us the most, and we are trying to express what we do musically and lyrically.
-How do you feel about performing at a festival where you’re friends with all of the bands?
Pascal: The best thing about it is that we are bands supporting each other and it’s really anti-competition. It creates very positive and exciting energy, you want to play after each other, you don’t care who’s headlining or who’s playing better. I think bands now are looking for each other, and serious bands especially. It’s not a competition.
Consisting of guitarists Andrew Georges, and Georgy Flouty along with guitarist Camille Cabbabe, bassist Charbel Bou Chakra, and drummer Elie El Khoury, KŌZŌ is a post-rock, math-rock band who released their debut album at SoundsGood festival
-You just debuted your first album, “Tokyo Metabolist Syndrome.” how long did it take you to release the album, and who were your influences?
Andrew Georges: It’s been a process of about two years, which is way too long. We really went back to the studio and it was a back and forth thing, we revisited every song and tried to perfect it and now we are done finally so that’s great I guess.
We are part of the Tunefork bands, in a sense that we are really surrounded by Tunefork artists all the time and they are really inspiring such as Kinematik, and Postcards, who are constant influences and inspirations to us. I think we also listen to varied things such as Hip Hop, or generic experimental Rock, and this is a collage of that.
-Speaking of Tunefork, how much did Fadi Tabbal influence you? Does your relationship go beyond artist and manager/producer?
Andrew Georges: Saying a lot is undermining to his role. He more than just influenced us, he really pushes us to be the best version of ourselves. He doesn’t settle for anything other than the extremely best. He’s a harsh critic at times, but I think that results in something that is new and exciting.
Georgy Flouty : We feel so proud that he chose us to be his students, and the good thing about it is that he doesn’t interfere in a way that controls who we are. He lets us discover the best version of ourselves which I think is so hard to get to, and so important for us to do. In the end, we are expressing our emotions, what we feel, which is objective to each one.
-How does it feel to play at a concert where you’re all friends as bands?
Andrew Georges: It makes sense, for now, we are all friends and especially that it’s Rayfoun. But I think eventually this festival could be pretty huge and much bigger and include even bands we aren’t friends with yet. At the end of the day, we are all artists playing here but we are also we are participating in creating this event and helping out and making sure everything goes smoothly.
-How do your group dynamics work?
Andrew: We are three guitarists and a bassist, so it’s definitely hard and we started out we didn’t know anything. Fadi really helped us clear out our spectrums and I think we played really well with each other and we let each other breathe and focus on the idea of counterpoints.
Camille: We also used to know each other from different bands. Georgy, Elie, and I played in a band called “Filter Happier,” while Charbel and Andrew were playing together as KŌZŌ. Before being the lineup that we are now, we all played together in a band at some point. That helped with our dynamics a lot. The transition to KŌZŌ was very easy because we all get along really well.
One of the most intriguing acts was Lebanese composer/songwriter Maya Aghniadis, who is known by her stage name, Flugen. With percussions and flute, her music possessed a flow that was elevating and capturing with its smooth transitions and melodies.
Launching her project in 2014, she uses many different musical variations which she incorporates in her performances, ranging from ethnic to tribal influences.
-How did you get your interest in music, where did it start?
Maya: I saw my cousin who was is also girl, was playing the drums. I just fell in love directly and wanted to take lessons immediately and after the first lesson that was it. I used to play a little bit of piano and thanks to the drums, I got to play a bit more of music using both hands synchronized so I continued to learn piano and guitar at the same time. Flute, I’m not a professional, I just try it and some notes work while others do not
-Joining you on stage was a Clarinet player, how did the collaboration come to happen?
Maya: It was natural. After we first jammed at a bar called Demo in Beirut, we started collaborating. We played once and we already knew it would happen again in a better dimension. It keeps getting better and better.
I have four albums out for now, “Lost Banjo,” “Owned,” “Dreams & Colors” a three-track EP, and “Mishwar.” There’s a full LP coming out soon as well. It will be different from my other works because what I present is always different because I am changed.
Composed of drummer Akram Hajj, keyboardist Rudy Ghafari, and guitarist/composer Anthony Sahyoun. They were all joined on stage by Syrian Arabic rapper, Hani Al-Sawah who is known as Al Darwish.
-How does it feel to come back to where you started with a festival, especially one with your friends?
Rudy: It’s completely surreal to me, this place is filled with memories for us. When we first started playing here we were thinking of Beirut, and how do we get there. So for us to bring it back here, it’s amazing.
Anthony: It’s the best thing in the world. It’s not exclusive completely to our record labels. It’s nice to get to a place where out small collective that started five or six years ago, is growing this big. The collaborations and projects in between with our friends and acquaintances, it’s nice because everyone is working from the heart.
-You are performing tonight with your first Hip Hop artist collaboration, how will it be?
Anthony: We were talking about this for almost two years, but we got too busy especially that we are an instrumental band. We also got busy with our second album, but it’s been on our minds for quite a while and it’s the coolest thing we’ve done. Especially that Hani comes from a different place. We appreciate his words, work, and everything. Ever since we opened for his performance, we were psyched for this.
Rudy: We collaborated on this project for a long term project, which is to make an EP together. We reached a place where we are not trying to make Hip-Hop because we aren’t Hip-Hop artists, and Hani isn't trying to make instrumental music. It took us three months to do this. We did not compromise our styles, but we went through about 20 editions of the collaborations.
"For the Record," is Annahar's new music section. It aims to cover in-depth the underground independent music scene in Beirut, which has become known around the world for the alchemical mix of local and international artists. This unique and innovative scene, defined by its superior audio-sound quality and the incredible amount of talent, has become the center of attention to many local and international audiences, initiatives, and artists.
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