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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Syrian singer and former X Factor winner Mohamed El Majzoub on his rejuvenated career

After a fallow six years, Mohamed El Majzoub has a new single out. He tells us about his inspirations

Mohamed El Majzoub is set to release the new single Fallayt on June 22. Courtesy Universal MusicMENA
Mohamed El Majzoub is set to release the new single Fallayt on June 22. Courtesy Universal MusicMENA

A decade seems like an eternity in the music business, but Mohamed El Majzoub feels like he is just getting started.

After bursting into the spotlight in 2007 at age 16, having won the second season of X Factor, the Syrian singer experienced both sides of stardom.

Almost straight after being crowned winner of the talent show, he was signed up by the regional powerhouse music label Rotana and he released his much-anticipated debut album, 2008’s Hann Albi.

It was a success and led to a series of sold-out tours.

Then came a fallow six years, when El Majzoub’s career was flailing. Left to handle his own business affairs much of the time and without Rotana backing him, he released his follow-up album, Mazjoub, last year.

More than its moderate success, the album was a cry to the industry to take the risk of investing in a young and talented artist before his career faded forever.

Enter the Dubai-based record label Universal Music Mena, which snapped El Majzoub up earlier this year, and is set to release his latest single, Fallayt, on Friday.

Considering what he went through, it is instructive to ask El Majzoub what he learnt from all that struggle.

“Patience,” he says with a sigh of relief. “That’s really the main thing that I took away from this. The last few years were difficult in that I felt like I was doing everything myself, from working on the songs and then giving them to the people. There were challenges there I had to take care of. Now that I am signed with Universal I feel like I have someone working with me. It feels like a team, and I can just focus on the music now.”

On that score, Fallayt is a solid single that should reward the faithful. It is an elegant string-laden, mid-tempo tune that has El Majzoub’s soulful voice at the centre. The song is less a reinvention and acts more as a thank-you to the fans for staying the course.

“It definitely has the sound that people come to expect from me,” says El Majzoub. “The changes are subtle. It feels more refined and reinvigorated. It is a song that I took straight away as soon as I heard it and that I find is always a good sign.”

It was that instinct that set El Majzoub on his way to a career in music.

Born in the port city of Latakia in western Syria, El Majzoub recalls growing up in a household where music was appreciated on an artistic level rather than being mere entertainment.

After he cut his teeth on school musical productions, El Majzoub’s teachers advised him to seek some professional training, which resulted in a place at a conservatory in Damascus, where he studied singing and the oud.

Despite the rigorous schooling he received in the Syrian capital, El Majzoub cites Latakia as his biggest inspiration. “It is a beautiful city that gives me a great feeling,” he says. “It has this wonderful vibe and, you know, I grew up there and I know it so well and the mannerisms of its people. Whenever I visit, I definitely get some flashes of ideas for

my work.”

With Fallayt poised to do well, El Majzoub predicts a busy second half of the year, which should include more new music and a string of shows in Europe, the wider Middle East and the Arabian Gulf.

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A visit to Abu Dhabi will definitely be on the cards, he says, but it may not be on the stage. With the capital home to close relatives and friends, don’t be surprised to see a relaxed El Majzoub dining in some of the city’s favourite culinary spots.

“I have a visa to live in the UAE and it is such a welcoming country,” he says. “I am always there, particularly in Abu Dhabi, to see my brother. The city means a lot to me so it is always a pleasure to perform there. It will happen.”

Fallayt by Mohamed El Majzoub is out on June 22