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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Beirut indie-folk band Postcards ready for UAE debut

Dreamy, introspective folkies Postcards just might be the next band to break it big out of Beirut.
From left, Marwan Tohme, Julia Sabra, Pascal Semerjian and Rany Bichara of Postcards. Courtesy The Other Side
From left, Marwan Tohme, Julia Sabra, Pascal Semerjian and Rany Bichara of Postcards. Courtesy The Other Side

If you’re squeamish of schmaltz, then look away now. Postcards’s story is too twee to be true: A group of scruffy, bearded Lebanese twenty-somethings who decided to form an indie-folk band after bonding over an all-night campfire sing-along under the stars. Sickening, really.

“We were right by the sea, we played every song we knew, and didn’t sleep all night,” says 22-year-old singer Julia Sabra fervently.

“It sounds cheesy, but it’s all true,” says drummer Pascal Semerdjian.

I’m meeting three-quarters of Postcards – bass and keys player Rany Bechara drops in midway through the misty-eyed campfire tale – in Papercup, a quaint bookshop-come-cafe in Beirut’s trendy Mar Mikhaël district, where Julia works part time. The band are busy explaining how cousins Pascal and guitarist Marwan Tohme (who couldn’t make it) grew up on heavy metal, but left-turned into the dreamy, twee indie-folk sphere – think Fleet Foxes or The Lumineers – after meeting Julia on that fateful night three years ago in Amsheet, a coastside getaway some 40km north of Beirut.

“Two weeks later, they approached me and said: ‘let’s do something’,” adds Julia, a former literature, now-musicology student, who also plays ukulele, mandolin and guitar.

Within weeks the group were gigging Beatles songs on the capital’s buzzing bar scene. It was only natural when original compositions started to emerge. “We always had a distinct idea of how we wanted to sound,” says Pascal, a 22-year-old food engineer by day.

Signed to Beirut Jam Sessions, 2013’s debut EP Lakehouse was a shimmering set of folksy festival sing-alongs and bedroom daydreams, opening doors to gigs in Jordan, the United Kingdom, France and Portugal.

Not that the band are too hot on this debut release today. “Every time I listen to it I feel it’s better than I remember,” says Rany, a 27-year-old 3-D animator. “I mean, it was five of the first six songs we ever wrote together.”

Postcards are markedly more confident about this year’s follow-up, What Lies So Still, which zeroes in on the atmospheric intimacy with sadder songs and smarter arrangements, thanks in part to producer Fadi Tabbal (a part-time member of previous introspective, Lebanese folkie Other Side guests, Safar).

Right now, Beirut is enjoying unprecedented international heat, with bands such as The Wanton Bishops and Who Killed Bruce Lee performing in Europe. Off the back of these six new tracks, it’s not hard to see Postcards next in line.

Don’t bother Googling them, mind; much like calling your band “Stamps” or “Envelopes”, Postcards posses one of the singularly most-un-SEO-savvy band names of the century. Searching for “Postcards Beirut” doesn’t help, either, yielding pages of results about the song Postcards From Italy by the band Beirut. It’s more ironic when you learn the band took their name from this song. At least the favour was returned when Postcards got the chance to warm up for their heroes Beirut, in the city of the same name.

“When you Google ‘Beirut’ the band comes up before the city,” observes Julia. “That’s kind of insulting, if you think about it.”

 

Postcards perform live for The Other Side at And Lounge, The Address Marina Mall, Dubai, on Friday November 20. Doors 9pm, Dh100 from platinumlist.ae.

Updated: November 16, 2015 04:00 AM

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