When the boys who would go on to start Zanjebar first played together in 2013, they had no idea how fortuitous their jam session would become. Originally starting at a battle of the bands competition at The American University of Kuwait, the band has their roots steeped in the power of the live performance. To this day, that interaction with the audience and energy that gets transmitted back and forth remains one of their most prized possessions.
The lineup of the band features Taymour on lead vocals and guitar, Fadi on bass and keyboards, and Hadi on drums. Exploring different genres and musical regions of the world with each new tune is Zanjebar’s goal. We sit down with them for this month’s inside/out to see what excites them about making music.
How did you first get into music?
We all got into music at a very young age; some of us were even born with it. Fadi and Hadi have a family of musicians and have grown up with them singing and playing their instruments even before they could walk and talk. As for Taymour, he first picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and had an endless drive to make Rock and Roll with it.
How long have you been playing?
Taymour has been playing guitar for 8 years now and has been working on vocals for 3 years. As for the twins Hadi and Fadi, they have grown up with their dad passing down the torch to them, teaching them everything he knows. The interesting thing is we recently found out our fathers were working together producing music back in 1994 when we were just born. It’s pretty cool now that we are together aiming to start a legacy. Our fathers are both surprised that their kids are working together now after they have been long separated.
What/Who inspires your art and why?
The inspiration is pretty much the fuel of this band, and 99% of it comes from people who enjoy the music we play. We could have had the worst day of our lives and be in the most horrible mood and once we go out and play a show and just watch the audience react all pumped up and into it, it just turns everything around. As for our inspirations musically, it’s a pretty hard job to narrow it down, and it also limits the group’s potential. We try to take the finest bits of any kind of music as inspiration to grow ourselves. But in the end, that one bit of drive that keeps us going is from the pirate that exists within a Rock and Roller, the lust for Freedom. That’s what Rock and Roll is all about isn’t it?
How did you get into your style of music specifically?
Giving our style a label has been something pretty complicated for us to do, because ever since we have been friends we would sit around and harmonize to some Jason Mraz and pretty much never limit ourselves to the genres we would cover at our live sets. We have gone from playing soft and friendly songs like “I’m Yours,” to heavier Rock and Roll like Led Zeppelin and even some more modern types of Rock like Imagine Dragons, and we have even gone far enough to throw in some Rap verses here and there. But after covering music and discovering our own sound for the past year, Zanjebar’s sound has grown to become Hard Rock: heavy party music, more like something people could rave to. I guess it’s just that we enjoy many forms of music and can’t really choose one to limit ourselves to, but if it really has to come down to the heart of this band, it would most probably be pure Rock and Roll.
Tell us about any recordings you have done/plan to do?
Since this summer we have been working on an EP, a 5-track album, with two originals and three covers. We sat down all summer and produced it ourselves, we got a good artist who’s part of the band right now and he has done the sick artwork. And copies are available for anyone; we tend to give them out for free at our shows as well. The CD has two originals written by Taymour called “Tequila” and “Junkies blues”, and there are a couple of cover songs, like “Radioactive” and “No Quarter”. Two nice tracks from today and from way back, and we also threw a little bonus in there just for the heck of it, a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Milk Cow Blues.” A nice 50’s Rock and Roll jam we had one day. Overall the album’s aim was to get our sound out there, show everyone what we’re capable of, a bridge of music from the start to the current position of the band. And to just throw it out there, we love it! And it’s something everyone should definitely check out.
In your opinion, what was the hardest challenge you faced in your artistic career so far?
Well to be honest, the hardest challenge is to flourish in this country as a band. Having “a band” is still something that isn’t completely accepted here in Kuwait. The whole Western music industry doesn’t exist here; the industry here is much calmer, it’s not thriving or boosting up internationally. Opportunities are pretty rare here. So aiming to stay here and grow as a band is kind of a bad decision. But at the end of the day, it’s all the musicians’ responsibility here to be the pillars of the music scene in Kuwait. We have to all work together as listeners and musicians to make this grow here. And that’s a challenge we are working on right now, growing this for everyone.
How have people in Kuwait reacted to your music?
Great! We have had countless shows around Kuwait and our audiences have been the younger age groups of Kuwait, teenagers and 20’s. And the one thing that boosts our energy on stage is the reaction of the audience when they all start screaming out the lyrics of a song or jumping around. It just gets us even more hyped up and we end up doing the same and going crazy on stage. It’s a cycle; it’s just a pretty awesome atmosphere. We go ahead and interact with the audience a lot, between every song there’s some chanting and screaming going on, we keep encouraging the audience to scream at the top of their lungs and they’re more than willing to do so – it’s a pretty amazing feeling.
Is there a prevailing message you are trying to communicate with your music?
Definitely, our songs are pretty dark for the audience here in Kuwait. The stories and messages that they give are pretty much taboo here. But the purpose of them is to expose a different perspective. We’ll leave the messages that these songs send to the listeners. Some might understand and relate, some wont, but the music we try to write always inspires a person to feel freedom.
What is your dream for your music/what would you like to accomplish in the future?
We aim to have the world hear us. To travel the world and sing and play to it, and have the world rock and scream back to us. We aim to do this for a lifetime. Yea, that’s right, we’re going big! It’s a long way to the top, and y’all can meet us there tomorrow!