Hadi Zeidan is a Paris-based, Lebanese DJ producer who is bringing two of his shows highlighting Lebanese music to OzAsia Festival 2019 in Adelaide in October and November 2019. Read our interview with him below and find out more about the shows at the end of the article.
Hadi Zeidan, you’re coming to Australia for OzAsia Festival 2019 with your two shows Beirut Electro Parade and Shik Shak Shok. Tell us about these two shows.
The two shows represent a sonar and festive expression in the image of Beyrouth, my birth town and the source of intimate inspiration.
Whereas Shik Shak Shok is the recreation of an imaginary cabaret from the 70s and 80s (the period during which Lebanon was in civil war but which was also the golden age for Lebanese music), Beirut Electro Parade identifies the artistic manifestation of youth after the civil war: underground nights, industrial techno, electro, rock, debauchery, etc.
Your performances explore the music of Lebanon, the golden age of music as well as today’s electro music. What is your favourite music style?
I cannot define a favourite style. There are creations or compositions that I like but these transcend a “musical genre”. Nevertheless, if I had to choose a musical practice that inspires me, it’s free jazz, which is just as valid with traditional, improvised or electronic instruments. Free jazz is an expression of the soul in a moment.
How is Lebanese music different to Western music?
Lebanese music takes its inspiration from the environment and the countryside which constitutes the “Land of the Cedars”. Lebanon is a tiny country, with two mountain chains and a very fertile Mediterranean coast. It’s a peninsula which has welcomed numerous civilisations and populations over the years and, its music, if not its art, is the proof of this cosmopolitan, multicultural and fertile richness.
We find inspiration from everywhere : from surf rock to Balkan music going from Indian or even Latino music!
What’s your favourite song from the golden age of Lebanese music?
Without a doubt Oumi ta Nourkouss by Sammy Clark and composed by Elias Rahbani.
traduction : lève-toi qu’on danse (get up we’re dancing)
Whereas Lebanon was in the middle of war, this disk is very happy and came out in 1982.
It shows the Lebanese’s willingness to party, to make love, to love life.
And from modern electro music?
I have a great admiration for Daniel Avery, who is a British artist based in London. His album “Drone Logic” is an unparalleled opus.
When did you know that you wanted to work in music?
I always knew having being lucky enough to take music lessons when I was very young.
We had a record store nearby, at which I spent all of my afternoons after school. I fantasised about having my own store when I was 13. Today the industry has evolved and I express myself through mediums which are accessible to me and which I master: the programming of events, music production and expressive DJ sets.
What does music mean for you?
Music cannot be explained. It uses a universal language, like maths, but it is not only rational. It is also an emotional language. I cannot image my daily life, or even humanity, without music. It’s the divine language of the universe which crosses all cultures, politics and religions.
You’re Lebanese from Beirut but you now live in Paris. You studied at a French school in Lebanon. Your music explores the influences of Lebanese culture. Has attending a French school and living in France meant that your music also has French influences?
This double life, in France and Lebanon is the driving force in my work: it’s from Lebanon that I draw my inspiration and it’s in France that I create. It’s always a relation between where I come from and where I am.
You also created Shik Shak Shok, the first web-radio dedicated to cultivating the golden age of Arabic music. What was the inspiration and what were the challenges in establishing Shik Shak Shok? How many listeners do you have around the world?
The challenge is the time that had to be consecrated to it. I’ve spent nights digitising vinyls and categorising snippets to reassure myself of the broadcast quality. It’s not my only enterprise so if I could divide myself into 4, I happily would!
The inspiration for this project was enshrined firstly in the line of my work: I wanted to put Beyrouth on the world music map by all the means possible, and web-radio seemed to be a good method in today’s world.
We have about 300 unique listeners per month; but I am currently looking at the feasibility of increasing our visibility through an extensive marketing plan as until then it’s been a homemade project.
You regularly play in Paris at La Bellevilloise as well as at Jardin 21. You’ve toured to Beirut, New York, Berlin, Kuwait, Lucerne (in Switzerland) and even Rabat (in Morocco). And in November, you will be able to add Australia to the list! Do you have a dream place at which you’d like to perform?
Definitely in Latin America.
I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between what’s happening in the Middle East and in Latin America. There’s a cultural effervescence which is very inspiring and I maintain distant relations with producers and other cultural actors in this region.
Perhaps one day! After all, who would have said that I would end up in Australia with my projects?!
DATES & TICKETS
You can see Hadi Zeidan’s two shows at OzAsia Festival 2019, as well as see him in some other free events:
Shik Shak Shok
31 October, Nexus Arts
Duration: 2 hours
Beirut Electro Parade
1 November, Nexus Arts
Duration: 6 hours
QBE Outdoor Music Sessions
Hadi Zeidan will also perform a free DJ set with Jad Atoui, another Lebanese DJ composer
Lucky Dumpling Market
Music workshop: Hadi Zeidan – Lebanon Underground
Madley Rehearsal Space
30 October, 2pm
Duration: 1 hour
Registration via email to [email protected]