May 2nd, 2014, Radio Beirut, in Beirut (yes).
We hosted Austrian DJ trio Restless Leg Syndrome and Adonis on our radio show. RLS gave us sneak peeks of their “flipped” tracks which were performed live the next day at Radio Beirut, then Adonis performed an extensive set and we got to know them more in depth.
Adonis is an Arabic pop/rock band that formed in 2011. Since then they have released two albums with a third one on the way. It’s already been a busy year with 3 concerts in Amman, Beirut Wave One, and at C U NXT SAT in Concrete 1994.
How did it start?
Anthony: Joey and I met during college at AUB when we were both studying architecture. We were friends mostly because we liked the same type of music (Arabic), which was not a common music to like at the time, and still is not.
Define Arabic music.
Anthony: good Arabic music, Joey is more fundamental, angelical and old school, while I could listen to everything, Nancy Ajram, Elissa.
Except you do different themes than Nancy Ajram?
Anthony: Somehow, we also sing about love, heartbreak….someone else should speak.
Tell us the dynamics, how did you become famous so quickly? You started popping up everywhere on Facebook and performing everywhere in Beirut, what was your secret?
Joey: We were just virtually famous. […] I think what we did was very simple: we just tackled every day life subjects in a very different way, I think we still do.
For example, your latest song Bent el Hawa, is an Arabic version of L’Accordoneiste from Edith Piaf, why did you choose that theme, is it an every day subject?
Joey: Of course, it’s a social issue. The song tells about a prostitute, but the song is told from another perspective than the original song, it’s from the perspective of the guy with the girl.
Anthony: in the original Piaf version [mic falls off], the story of the song is about [mic falls off again].
In the original song, the prostitute is singing to her man who goes to war and breaks her dreams when he goes. In our version, it’s the opposite: the guys loses this “Bent el Hawa” that he loves when there’s clashes in Tripoli, Lebanon […]
Tell us about Amman, you did 3 performances last March, how was the crowd? Was it receptive to your songs?
Anthony: Much more than here actually… We went to Egypt, Dubai, Amman. You have the impression there that the audience is going to your concerts for the sole purpose of listening to your music. You really don’t hear a sound in the auditorium, 300-400 people and not a sound. You feel the people came and listened to what you sang and then came to you afterwards to discuss our lyrics, such as “why did you close your eyes when you said that sentence?”
Here, promoters think differently and focus on the alcohol in the venue. We don’t have that concept of going to a theater or a concert and we struggle a lot about that.
The promoters mostly impose alcohol and/or a bar […] It’s fine but if there’s a bar, people tend to speak louder, make noise, when you’re around drinks.
We want people to come to enjoy the music. Of course, we love performing here and we love our audience but it would be nice from the promoter’s side to encourage musicians and focus on the musical aspect of the show, instead of the party aspect.
Maybe Lebanon does not have a crowd for that?
Anthony: Maybe, if it’s encouraged, it could be, why not?
What was the difference with Amman and Cairo?
Anthony: It was amazing, we’re going back anyway very soon to both cities, especially in Egypt, we were surprised (considering we’re performing in a city where you’ve never been to) our audience would know our lyrics by heart and sing along with us. Once, there was literally one verse from a song that I stopped singing and the crowd was singing along by itself.
A clip from Adonis’ in-studio performance of Stouh Adonis
Why don’t you do a collaboration with Mashrou’ Leila?
Anthony: Why not, we could, we never talked about it for now, everyone is doing their own thing now. It would be cool to do a collaboration with local bands in general after we’re well established with our sound and our crowd.
Besides Arabic music, what genres do you guys like?
Fabio (finally talking): Each one of us listens to a different style of music. We have a very eclectic baggage of music: Joey is a lot into Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd…and Melhem Barakat;
Anthony likes everything in Arabic but he’s also a big fan of modern bands like Beirut; Nicola (without s) likes BB King As for me, I like musicals and films soundtracks, such as Sunset Boulevard, Love Never Dies, … You can hear those influences in some of our music, especially in our second album and Bent el Hawa, I really insisted in incorporating violins, strings and orchestra sounds.
What can we expect besides your third upcoming album?
A fourth one and we’re planning concerts in Europe after summer. (Mabrouk!) […]
And if you liked that, you need to check out legendary Lebanese DJ Jade’s remix of Adonis’ track from above, Stouh Adonis.
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