Cosmic synths, neo-Arabic influences and obscure electro from Lebanon’s underground music scene combine in a vibrant, highly sensory sonic temple. Founded and curated by Paris-based Lebanese producer, Hadi Zeidan, Beirut Electro Parade portrays the modern soundscapes of Beirut, with club-style takeover events initially happening in Paris, Beirut and now for the first time, Australia.
The inaugural line-up for Adelaide includes an eclectic mix of electronic beats that define the progressive sounds of Beirut, a city known for its post-war pop-up venues, underground music and pioneering electro scene featuring: Renata, June As, Jad Atoui, Jack the Fish, Hadi Zeidan. Hadi Zeidan answers some questions about their show ahead of OzAsia.
What are you most looking forward to about performing at OzAsia Festival in Adelaide?
It’s always exciting to perform before new crowds. What I’m most excited about is visiting a far away land and showcasing my work. It will be proof that music is an art form capable of crossing borders and linking people from different backgrounds. I’m very grateful to have this opportunity.
What can music lovers expect to experience with this show?
Beirut Electro Parade has two purposes: showcasing Beirut as a city through sound and paying homage to electronic music as a genre. In my opinion, well-produced, electronic dance music (aka EDM) is the fruit of all musical genres that we have known so far. It disciplines our knowledge of sound, tonalities and rhythms via the expressive/immersive exercise of DJ-ing. On a proper sound system, EDM will connect almost effortlessly with all music lovers, neophytes and mere auditors because of its supra-genre entity.
What is the music scene like in Beirut?
The music scene in Beirut is shaped thanks to three essential factors. (1) The people’s statement in reaction to a socially complex situation in Lebanon (different communities living together, economic crisis, lack of institution, post-war scars etc.). (2) The need to party to forget about one’s troubles. (3) The reach of the Lebanese diaspora worldwide, making the Lebanese quite ‘sophisticated’ in blending genres and having a unique soundscape. These factors generated a rich music scene from rock, rap, electronic music, folk, opera and more. Indeed, the music scene resembles Beirut as a hub: cosmopolitan, sunny, noisy, chaotic, sexy, sunny etc.
How important has the music scene been in helping the city heal post-war?
It’s essential. I belong, among my peers, to the post-war generation, and if it wasn’t for parties, the indie scene and clubbing nights since the early 1990s, we wouldn’t have been able to heal the scars of the war that are still visible in Beirut’s architecture. Music is a remedy both to the soul and society’s fractions. It connects people regardless of their backgrounds, and speaks directly/universally to one’s being. We are very lucky to have had a music scene emerge from the ashes in the early 1990s.
What can you tell Hi-Fi Way about the artists on the Beirut Electro Parade line-up?
Selected artists have been chosen because of their activity within their communities in Lebanon, along with the high level of work ethic they have proven to have. Renata and June As, for example, have been fostering the underground techno scene for the past two years through Frequent Defect, connecting people who share socio-political ideas and a need to express themselves in the outskirts of Beirut one a simple but effective dance floor.
They run weekly events and host an accessible platform while maintaining a high-standard curatorial initiative. Jad Atoui on the other hand has been involved in multiple international projects, working with some of the biggest names in experimental music such as John Zorn. He is also the stage manager of Ballroom Blitz, a new venue in Beirut that opened recently that has been acclaimed internationally for its unique design, line-ups and inclusive policies.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Beirut Electro Parade at OzAsia on Friday 1 November at Nexus Arts. Tickets from OzAsia…