Majaz Brings Bahrain This Month’s Farah Baig Up To Speed On Their New Music And More.
The world has gone through several unforeseeable changes in the last year. With the onslaught of the pandemic, we’ve watched as life around us has changed beyond recognition, but one change that music lovers have surely felt is the lack of vibrant live music events. While the pandemic might have brought these events to a screeching halt, musicians around the world have proved that even a pandemic is incapable of dampening their spirit, affecting their drive to create or snubbing out their undying inspiration. We were thrilled to have a conversation with one such band in Bahrain, Majaz, which has taken crowds of spectators through a myriad of emotions with their enthralling music. The band has soldiered on and gave us some insight into their latest developments including a fresh new recording space and new music for listeners to look forward to!
Listeners across Bahrain and beyond have been inspired by your music. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what makes Majaz unique!
We brought the concept of Majaz to life in 2013 and have actively released music and performed shows in the Kingdom and abroad ever since. Most recently, we performed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which was an overwhelming experience! We’ve also performed at festivals and events in North Africa, South Asia and other countries in the GCC. The band consists of Jehad Al Hallal (Cello), Hameed Al Saeed (Guitar), Salah Alawi (Bass) and Abdulla Faisal (Drums & Percussion). I guess what makes our sound pop - besides our unconventional blend of instruments - is the fact that we all come from musical backgrounds that are so far away from each other. Each one of us always brings something new and exciting to the table! As for our music; we always like to take our listeners on a progressive intertwining journey through different cultures, times, places and most importantly, different moods and emotions!
How would you describe your music? What do you draw inspiration from?
Throughout the years we found it best not to try and describe the music that we make, as that sort of puts it in a box. But rather we allow any and all possibilities of exploring new grounds and musical directions to be open and limitless! Some of our music will make you emotional and nostalgic, some of it will make you laugh, some of it will make you cry, and some of it will make you dance! As for what inspires us; we’ve always been fascinated by the unique and interesting music and sounds of the many different cultures of the world; be it our own or the polar opposite of it. We draw our inspiration from its people and their ways of life: the places, nature, landscapes, languages, and everything in between!
Tell us a little bit about the albums you’ve released so far.
So far we have released an EP, and a couple of singles. We are currently working on a full-length LP but are going to release some singles too before we release the full album.
Majaz recently announced the completion of RIHLA Studio. Could you tell us more about this space?
A few years ago, we decided to build our own rehearsal space/studio where we could hold practice sessions and record our music - something that a lot of bands in Bahrain face because of the limited and usually costly rehearsal spaces available in the country. We recently had the opportunity to expand and renovate the space that we had and turn it into a proper, fully equipped studio which will be the new home of Majaz! RIHLA studio has always been the space where we rehearsed, composed, arranged, produced and recorded our music!
How has The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) been helpful in the completion of this project?
One of the ways The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture extends their support to regional artists is by offering grants and programs that span through all mediums of art and that are open to all artists from the Arab region. We had applied to a grant called the ‘Artist Support Grant’ in early July of last year and were extremely happy to be one of the grantees. We sincerely cannot thank AFAC enough for their valuable support and dedication towards the well-being of all artists in the Arab region!
How has the outbreak of COVID-19 impacted Majaz since you previously played live shows?
The pandemic has clearly affected all musicians around the world, but definitely some more than others. For us, we’re all full time musicians, so basically our main source of income stopped, but the good side of it is that we focused more on recording and other things bands need to do other than just playing shows. Individually, some of us started doing studio session gigs online. There is always a way to create music - in any situation and time.
Has the pandemic had any effect on the creation of new music? What other challenges has it presented?
While the absence of concerts, festivals and other music events certainly allowed us to shift more of our time and effort towards songwriting and composition, COVID-19 restrictions definitely posed some obstacles that slowed our roll, especially recently. For instance, Abdulla, our percussionist, has not been able to return to the country due to restrictions for almost three months now, which really affected our composition process. But we still find new ways to adapt to these changes every day, whether it’s through communicating more effectively or working on our compositions remotely via video calls!
What’s next for Majaz? Any new music in the pipeline, given your fresh new recording space?
Definitely! We are currently in the process of composing and recording new material that we can’t wait to share with all of you! Our new studio space is certainly giving us that extra kick we need.
Anything else you would like to add?
When things slowly start coming back, we wish that the venues in Bahrain who used to book local bands every weekend, also book local bands who do original music and not just cover music, it’s healthier for the Bahraini music scene.