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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Meet Lebanese indie-folk duo Safar ahead of their UAE debut

Meet Safar: Mayssa Jallad on vocals and Elie Abdelnour on guitar. Samer Noun / Safar Music
Meet Safar: Mayssa Jallad on vocals and Elie Abdelnour on guitar. Samer Noun / Safar Music

Fresh from their first European tour, upcoming Lebanese indie-folk duo Safar are preparing to make their Dubai debut on Friday, August 14.

There’s also a new EP, Carry-On, ready for release later this month — singer Mayssa Jallad, 25, exclusively revealed during our interview. Good news, too — it will follow January’s warmly received 23 Kilograms, a delicate, wistful, warm set of hypnotic lo-fi tunes, mixing lyrical themes both heavy and light.

How did you and guitarist Elie Abdelnour meet and start making music together as Safar?

I’ve known Elie a long time, a mountain ago — we used to go around friends’s houses doing covers together. We became a band in February 2013, we never planned it — we won a music video competition and the organisers asked us if we were going to do an original. We decided to write something, it came naturally, and that’s when we realised we worked well together. Normally when we start writing he is behind the guitar and I have my notebook and phone in front of me, and we go from there.

You released debut EP 23 Kilograms in January. Are you happy with the way it’s been received?

We’re really thrilled with the reception — it encouraged us to keep doing what we do. So now — and you’re the first to know this — we’ve recorded a second EP which we we’re releasing at the end of the month, called Carry-On. This one is a bit more raw, a bit more emotional.

Where do you find inspiration for these emotional lyrics?

I write about daily life. I try to be as truthful as possible with my emotions — love, loss, identity. The first EP was mostly about home, and what it means to have a home and be loved. We have two kinds of songs, we realised, very quirky and fun songs, but also the very melancholic and emotional songs.

Which is more natural to you — the quirky or the melancholy?

They’re both natural to us — we’re complicated beings. I couldn’t feel melancholic the whole time, I think I’d go crazy, but I’m not this quirky person the whole time — but they both make us human in a way.

You chose to cover Robin Thicke’s charged anthem Blurred Lines. Not so melancholy ...

That was a fun project. Loopstache — a great Beirut band — they used to release these cover videos and they proposed the idea to us. I think Blurred Lines was on the radio at the time, and we just gave it a go — and it worked. I found I could sing like that.

You recently returned from gigs in France, Belgium and United Kingdom. How’d it go?

It was a beautiful experience, we learnt a lot about each other and the music, about performance and response. The crowds were all lovely, very attentive, we’ve never had that kind of audience before. They would wait until the last note in total silence before clapping — this was definitely something new. Audiences in Lebanon are very loud and you have to try very hard to get any attention. I hope we’ll tour a lot more in future — Safar means travel in Arabic, so I don’t think it makes sense if we don’t actually go and travel to other countries.

Describe your music in five words?

Emotional, dreamy, honest, cheeky ... and loving.

Safar perform for The Other Side on Friday, August 14, at And Lounge, The Address Marina Mall, Dubai. Early bird tickets Dh75 from platinumlist.ae

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Updated: August 12, 2015 04:00 AM

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