Electric Youth, cherished in my heart for their dreamy electro sound and renowned for their song ‘A Real Hero’ on the Drive soundtrack, just released a video for ‘Runaway’ which is directed by Noel Paul and cast and shot in Lebanon.
Noel as you remember, was our first famous guest on the Radio Show Layal and I hosted in Beirut, so I caught up with him via email to get some insight regarding the video.
He has directed music videos for Portugal the Man, Royksopp, Bat for Lashes, and now Electric Youth — but this is the first time he has ever shot a music video in Lebanon.
The band itself is Canadian, so the link between Batroun/Beirut and Toronto isn’t obvious. But it was Noel’s idea, he said in a [more]
“We’ve had to cut out a lot of shit to get here”-Adrian
Back when Layal and I started our own radio show we broadcast through a spotty Internet source at our favorite local beer joint in Beirut.
While hardly anyone in Lebanon had good enough Internet to stream the show, and those outside Lebanon couldn’t rely on the weak stream to listen either, we were lucky enough to have the space, equipment, and support to try our hands at something I had never even done before.
The idea of two audacious and liquored up ladies spouting off stories and erotic news was novel to all five-to-ten people drinking at that bar, and for that, we are grateful. With the “anything-goes”, “be as wild as you want” and “explore your creativity” spirit, we were able to grow, evolve, and get an idea how to become better entertainers.
Radio Beirut was awesome to us.
But then we moved to Norway and things got real. Because in Norway, the radio is a BIG DEAL. Like, almost 100% of the Norwegian popula... [more]
Camping, off-festival events, environtmentalism, and the biggest acts in Lebanon
“It doesn’t get better than Wickerpark.” says Philippe Manasseh, lead singer of last year’s Canadian-Lebanese headliner Wake Island, and recent member of How Sad, also part of the 2014 lineup.
For the fourth year in a row, Junior Daou and his family open their large swath of land for a day of music, art, and environmental awareness to the Lebanese people. It is the highly anticipated grassroots project that has turned into a proper annual event on the Batroun coastline: The Wickerpark Festival.
If you’ve been to the Wickerpark Festival before, don’t just expect another one-day concert. When Daou first started WP the goal was simply ‘To make a festival where local acts get to perform on a proper stage with proper sound and light.” This year’s festival has a couple of awesome events that mark a drastic expansion since its inception as well as a fresh new line... [more]
-But Berlin DJ predictably denied into Lebanon for Israeli stamp
You know what, I’m glad the Middle Eastern Gulf region is taking into account all kinds of sexy when it comes to deporting men.
Because the most recent deportee is a 55-year old German man, Rolf Buccholz, internationally known for holding the Guinness World Record in having the most body piercings.
Buchholz flew to Dubai to party it up at Circque le Soir, a club that promises to bring out all the freaks and fantasy fetish stuff, as a paid appearance. But at the Dubai Airport he was denied entry into the Emirate on the account of possibly being a High Priest of the Dark Arts and a practitioner of Black Magic. Yes, that is why he was denied entry, because he looked as sexy as a Black Magic Priest. And yes, I would probably be wooed by him.
That’s why I’m q... [more]
Norwegians are the masters of understatement. When something is gargantuan, they’ll say ‘It’s a bit big’ and when something’s breathtakingly beautiful, they’ll say ‘It’s nice.’ If a friend made a $10 million profit on a business deal, they’d claim he made ‘a bit of money.’
I still don’t understand whether it’s humor or specific cultural brain wiring (for example: how different cultures understand time). But there is one thing that reassures me in all of this, a ray of hope that cuts through the vague cloudiness which always has me scratching my head asking “Is he/she joking…?” — and that is when a Norwegian talks about the Lofoten Islands.
Because they don’t understate anything about it. Any Norwegian will tell you how magical Lofoten is — how emotional it is to stand next to giant mountains that dive straight into the sea, or how disoriented one b... [more]
-I was the only dancer and they noticed
It All Started With Lena Dunham
In March my sister, Margaux, sent me a Youtube video with a perfectly succinct message: “This is Lena Dunham’s boyfriend. She directed the video.” Dunham’s boyfriend is the guitarist of Fun and started the band Bleachers as a solo project. Loved Lena’s video, died for her boyfriend’s song, “I Wanna Get Better!”
Admittedly Margaux knew how to pique my interest with the reference, but that day I became a Bleachers fan too. The thick riffs did what they wanted to my body, the lyrics “I didn’t know I was lonely till I saw your face” literally made (makes) me cry; I played the song on repeat and told my boyfriend to dance at a distance in case I exploded into a rainbow — it was that wonderful.
Slowly more singles like &ldq... [more]
Take a look at the festival fashion at Hove!
As a recent immigrant to Oslo I can’t help but notice the strong Norwegian sense of style. Everyone walks around as if just getting off a Banana Republic-meets-Free People photo shoot, rocking box-fresh threads and highly styled looks. Being one of the world’s richest countries influences how people dress and they definitely dress like they are rich and care how they look.
Between us there is a sharp visual contrast; I, with my decades old tees (that were made decades ago and cost $1), dilapidated shoes, my aversion to makeup concealer, and dark curly hair versus the Norwegian current-season outfit, long flowing golden locks, lots of face concealer, and really clean looking shoes.
But as I prepared to camp in the woods at Hove for six nights I imagined a sort of fashion overlap. My laid-back grungy style just might mix perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of camping, I thought. I just might look like I fit in here especially among the teens since my part... [more]
What Is Brown Cheese?
“I just thought the Norwegians packaged peanut butter in a different way, you know, instead of spooning it out of a jar they served it in a block that you slice with a cheese cutter. It still tasted like peanut butter and I ate it on bread with jelly but I didn’t find out it wasn’t even peanut butter until much later.”
Babs, an American expat in Norway chuckled as she told me about her first encounters with Norwegian brunost (brown cheese). She and her Norwegian husband met in Lebanon decades ago where, at the time, he would ship in a huge box of brown cheese to satisfy his homestyle hunger.
Americans compare it to peanut butter; Brits compare it to Marmite; Many others compare it to dulce de leche. But it is none of them.
Norwegian brown cheese is not essentially cheese — it’s made with goat milk, whey, and cream — and boiled for so long that the sugar in the mixture cara... [more]
And it’s not only because of these hot dudes…
It’s official. 4 of the 2famous.TV crew are now permanently settled in Norway just in time for sweater weather and midnight sun (meh). We were not missing Beirut too much when the MOST DISASTROUS storms of the century hit and were followed by the country’s most epic drought. We know what that would have meant for our tap water situation.
But now that summer is practically upon us people are Instagramming pictures of the beautiful Mediterranean beaches and gearing up for beach party season which officially starts with [more]
-And yes, it includes scantily clad Scandis in the snow
Simply said, people don’t love Norway because it’s cold most of the year and sparsely populated. They love it because of its vast wealth, successful social system, and stunning natural beauty. While I had yet to witness the latter three since I moved here, last weekend I roadtripped with Fatstone.TV to cover the X2 Extreme Sports Festival in Volda and saw firsthand why everyone gets so googly about the topography.
Habitats breed particular patterns of behavior; a certain culture created through adaptation. I grew up in Florida with flip flops and lazy beach days, sweating my ass off in the sand and going for a dip in the ocean. Norway has no capacity for that, but the activities I always recognized as Beach Culture might be more universal than I presumed. No matter the climate, we all live under the same sun.
I was in new territory. An 8-hour car ride away from Oslo, Volda is a small town nestled between a fjord and mountains on the west coast of Norway.... [more]
-I have to prove myself every time I go out to a bar here
Heading out to the bar on a Friday night in Oslo? Plan on doing a pub-crawl with your friends? Or just hitting up one or two drinking destinations after a group hangout? Well you better be damned sober if you want to do any of that. Or you better feign soberness as best as you can. And never ever bring up your Beirut days. In Oslo where any beer now costs $15, every single bar has a bouncer, male or female (go equality!) who literally scans you up and down and decides whether you are looking straight and narrow enough to enter.
Let me be clear, I’ve mentioned before that people here get totally sloshed before 9pm on the weekends and I understand this is a way to weed out the waste cases so that the bar is not serving any visibly drunk people. That is smart and socially responsible and probably the law.
But I find it is taken to the extreme here. So much so that hitting... [more]
-Interviews with the artists and what’s next for the music!
This week saw two wildly-anticipated releases in the Lebanese electronic music scene.
First I caught up with Samer “Etyen” Chami who is a frequent and beloved guest on our radio show to discuss the launch of the EP.
Congratulations on the launch! How is the album being received so far?
Thank you! It’s going really well; People in the industry are telling me they love it and my fans seem to enjoy it too. Most people are giving me tons of positive feedback on the first single “Autumn” which has vocals and ... [more]
SCIB’s 3rd episode with Chef Salve Astano showcases fusion cuisine at its finest. Here, the head sushi chef of Le Sushi Bar prepares a foie gras tempura maki roll combining a luxurious French delicacy with traditional Japanese maki-making.
Filipina chef Salve Astano is an inspiring person whose story and rise to fame in Lebanon are as rare as they come. Born and raised in the Phillipines, Astano studied Literature and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree before making the big move to Lebanon to pursue career opportunities. Like most migrant workers in the country, she landed a low-level job working as a waitress in a restaurant alongside her sister.
-$40 for a takeaway pizza, um ok!?
Once again I’m an expat and this time I’m living in one of the most northern, well-organized, and richest countries on the globe: Norway. My earliest memory of Norway’s existence is from my 6th grade Geography class with Mrs. Lockard. She quizzed us on the world’s capitals and the one that stuck out in my mind was Oslo because it just had such a funny ring to it. Oslo. My hipster radar was already on point even before I hit puberty.
That’s where my knowledge of Norway ended until I met the “Norwegians” who taught me more about their homeland than I knew about my own. Now that I live here, I’ve picked up on even more facts and have formed some observations:
It’s an extremely rich country with one of the lowest wealth gaps in the world. In 1969 the Norwegians struck oil in the sea off their coast and since the 80’s have been living lavishly off it. Not Arab style though, nothing here is too os... [more]
Episode 2 of the 4-part sushi series at Le Sushi Bar revolves around Chef Salve’s skills with a flame thrower!
To make the salmon and shrimp tempura maki, Chef Salve flame fires strips of salmon with a blow torch to release a light charred flavor. Then she spreads rice on the nori and lays the salmon atop it.
When asked about the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated field, Chef Salve acknowledges that the professional kitchen is mostly full of men which has forced her to have to work like a man to fit in. Heavy labor, among other things, involves cutting up fish bigger than her petite frame.
In addition to working like a man, she also admits she has to ‘act like a man’ as well. Fortunately for her, ... [more]
4-part video series on how to make LSB’s most delicious sushi rolls!
In my search for the best chefs in Lebanon, I rarely came across women — not to say there aren’t many great female chefs, but rather, they are scarce in professional kitchens. It was a breath of fresh air to discover Salve Astano, the Head Sushi Chef at Le Sushi Bar in Achrafieh.
Previously on SCIB, we ventured to the back of LSB’s kitchen with Chef Tom who showed us the newest menu celebrating the restaurant’s 15th Anniversary.
In this 4-part series, we remain up front in the sunshine with Chef Salve as she makes LSB’s most delicious sushi rolls. The first episode is of Chef Salve preparing a simple and fresh Amberjack Foldover.
Salve Astano was born and raised in the Philippines where she studied and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. In 2001 s... [more]
-A Norwegian’s art exhibit from her time in Beirut; A Lebanese artist & Kurdish artist.
Back in Beirut I met an artist friend of Matias’ from Norway who has been visiting Lebanon since 2008: Mari Meen Halsøy. At the time I didn’t know what kind of art she did, and I still wouldn’t know until I moved here. But first I found out how awesome she is!
I learned a lesson carrying a lot of the Lebanese bounty I had just acquired selling my stuff with me OUT of Lebanon. Don’t do it. No exchanges were willing to take Lebanese liras. Afghani and Syrian ones are fine though. Mari, who will be visiting Lebanon in April or May offered to help us out and exchange our cash at a super hip party in Oslo. It was a win win.
She’s the reason I could buy our groceries for the next week, but she’s also one of the very few people I actually know here. So on a day when I was sitting around the apartment she invited me to her current ... [more]
Who doesn’t need a sweet sweet morning cry every once in a while right? The Norwegians have a great ability of making awesome campaign videos whether they make you weep or ache with laughter, they’re on to something!
Yesterday a video circulated of a young boy in Oslo sitting at a bus stop without a jacket. It’s really cold here and without a coat you are essentially in danger. In the video adult strangers offer him their gloves, scarves, and jackets to make sure he’s warm. It’s unbelievably beautiful to watch, it’s a video that restores your faith in humanity — but it has a message.
-The neurotic journey of moving to Europe and taking all my clothes off in Germany
Growing up as an American you hear a few generalizations about Europeans and some of those generalizations are true. They don’t tip, they’re more open sexually, and they are generally comfortable with nudity — whether watching it on TV and movies, or simply taking it all off when things get too warm.
Regarding the latter, I saw it when I came to Oslo during a chilly summer and noticed ass cheeks flapping and side boob swaying in the breeze on the first day of sunshine.
I knew moving to Norway would mean I’d have to cozy up to the idea of splaying my American-grade naked body for all to see at some point. In the future. The far future. But my big reveal came way earlier than I could have mentally prepared for. Not that mentally preparing would have helped.
On a weekend wedding layover in Germany, Matias and I strolled the bone-chilling streets of Berlin and spotted a Finnish sauna. It was so cold outside and a sauna sounded so... [more]
-UN research shows women are affected the most in times of conflict
-Live performances by Leb’s best: Thursday, 20 February!
By now the Syrian civil war has raged for years. It pervades almost every news source as the devastating, bloody conflict and humanitarian crisis it is. Let’s put some “current” key facts in place:
But did you know in times of conflict the biggest sufferers are not the men and soldiers on the streets. Those who suffer the greatest are women. Below is an excerpt from WomenWarPeace.org:War has always impacted men and women in different ways, but possibly never more so than in contemporary conflicts. While women remain a minority of combatants and perpetrators of war, they increasingly suffer the greatest harm.
In contemporary conflicts, as much as 90 pe... [more]
As soon as I moved to Lebanon, people inside and out asked me when I would leave. “How long are you here for?” locals prodded. I’d shrug my shoulders and tell them I didn’t know. “I guess I’ll leave when it feels right…?”
Well, I guess now feels right, or, greater opportunities have arisen. I moved with my boyfriend Matias to his home country of Norway.
It’s not how I came to Lebanon — following my love that is. Remember, I came here with “no money, no plan, no man” and full of confidence because of it.
The months leading up to college graduation in 2011, everyone nervously asked each other “What are you going to do after college?” I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but ... [more]
New 2Famous.TV Radio Show every Friday from Radio Beirut!
Ah, coming back to the radio was like a breath of fresh air. I’d been listening from a remote location for five shows — which was the first time I’d ever NOT been on the show! During that, I gained a whole new perspective and my excitement for our project only expanded. January 10th we welcomed guests and musicians to keep us up to date on what’s going on these days in Lebanon. Wael Abi Faker, former sound engineer to the Layal and Adrian Show, revealed what it’s like to work as a professional musician in the Lebanese Orchestra. He’s an expert french horn player who carries around a ukelele, which he played while performing an original song!
We also welcomed the editor of Lebanese social media magazine, Cloud 961 who discussed the TechCrunch article that came out claiming that Silicon Valley is losing its mojo to innovation in Beirut.
Musical performances wooed the audience. First we had up and coming singer-songwriter Peter Choucha... [more]
On the day of our most hectic radio show yet (at that time), we were surprised and honored to spontaneously welcome JadaL to our stage. As they set up their impromptu set I started to ask questions but the interview timing wasn’t right so I caught up with them after, with the questions below.
A renowned Arabic rock band from Jordan, Jadal has seen fame since 2003 with their alternative approach to music in the Arab world. Mahmoud Radeideh is the lead composer and writer while Ahmed Zou’bi is the voice of the group. I asked Radeideh a few questions about his band through email and this is what he had to say.
The name JadaL means “controversial” in Arabic — have you had any controversies as a band in the Middle East? Or anything get you guys in trouble?
The controversy was generally in the style of m... [more]
Yesterday a second bomb in the past week exploded in Beirut, once again killing innocent civilians, ruining structures, and re-inciting fear and rage in the country. Is this chaos? Is it war? Are people stung and upset or numb or strong or what? I grazed through Twitter to find some opinions.
Building was residential, Al Manar reports, just like previous 2 attacks in south Beirut.
— Habib Battah (@habib_b) January 2, 2014
Hariri and others quickly blamed Hezbollah for Chatah assassination. Might be back to tit-for-tat bombings like we saw in August.
— Josh Wood (@woodenbeirut) January 2, 2014
French-Lebanese-Japanese rock n roll band in Paris!
French-Lebanese-Japanese rock and roll band Teleferik just released an EP last week to rave reviews in all of France. I caught up with the lead singer who lives in Paris and also writes all the lyrics, Eliz Murad, to pick her brain about fronting a multi-cultural group while bridging the gap between the Middle East and Europe.
Louve Garou is the track that contributed to the name of Teleferik’s second EP . Louve Garou is a legendary and mythological animal, which has the ability to shape shift into a wolf under the moonlight.
How much does Lebanese culture influence your work?
Both my parents are Lebanese. They speak Arabic and French at home. My mother used to listen to Majda El Roumi, Fairuz, and all the Lebanese divas on the radio. I was a Michael Jackson ,James Brown, and the gospel diva fan –all the music of black Americans. Later in high school I really discovered th... [more]
A good friend once told me “Adrian, don’t try to be an artist, you’re a better muse.” And while I took it as a backhanded compliment, she’s right in that I’m not an artist, I hardly even get art most of the time. So going to Art Basel with hardly any cash with my little sister afforded me to check out all the not-so-complicated stuff like wall murals and cheese. Here’s some fun art we saw:
We went to a free cheese exhibit where an artist named Krai was ... [more]
-Warning: Lots of talk about vaginas, blood, and other fun stuff
Christmas came early for yours truly this year. A sweet little lifesaver I’ve been scheming to get for ages is now my own. May I present in this blog post my newest friend, the Diva Cup!
Yep, I’m home — all warm and snuggly in beachy south Florida, tanning and making as many people I know jealous during the days, eating non-adventurous American food and going to sleep at like 11 at night. It’s totally a blast. Earlier this month I said, “Hey mom I really want this thing can you get it for me please?” and she said yes. They sell it at Whole Foods Market, five minutes away from the house so I’d have to pick it up myself.
Oh, what IS a Diva Cup you ask? Duh, according to SEO doctrine I should have answered that in the first line. But whatever. The Diva Cup is a silicone egg-shaped open cup that a lady sticks up her vag during her period in place of a tampon. The cup collects the blood and chunks (get over it) and only needs to be... [more]
-Plus Investigative journo Habib Battah, NYC artist Molly Crabapple, & Wamda editor Reine Farhat
This week had its ups and downs with the most obvious being the latter, a twin-suicide attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. We brought in guests to inform us about it as well as give us a robust range in perspectives on the matter, from rapper Chyno who just released a song about suicide-bombing to Molly Crabapple, a visiting American artist. On the bright side, Adrian and Matias tested out brand new vintage mics flown in from Sweden in their Radio Beirut studio.
First we welcomed Habib Battah, investigative journalist and author of Beirutreport.com, who informed us about the Iranian embassy bombing this past week. The twin suicide-bomb that demolished the embassy killing 23 people and leaving 146 injured, is one of the first recent tragedies that has spawned an actual investigation by the country. This is an important sign to notice, as other bombings in Lebanon have been swept under the... [more]
From guitar-backed hip hop, to Tarab-laced trip hop: Meet LaTlateh & Hello, Psychaleppo!
On November 15th our radio show focused on artists from Syria with interviews and performances shedding light on what it is to be a refugee — or not — and influences from the homeland.
Our first performance came from LaTlateh, a band comprised of our show’s own sound engineer Khairy, alongside bandmate Darwish, and Bou Kalthoum — who was absent. Young prodigy, Hello, Psychaleppo! also took to the stage after an illuminating chat in the studio.
Khairy from Damascus and Darwish from Homs moved to Beirut eight and twelve months before we met them, respectively, having uprooted everything because of the Syrian war whose end is still nowhere in sight. They formed LaTlateh with one more musician, Bou Khalthoum, making a trio and a play on words: In Arabic, latlateh means gossip. Insert a pause and add a different emphas... [more]