The cross-genre composer talks new albums, crazy concerts and early experiences
You play basketball, went to law school and compose music. What’s wrong with just one career? I started playing music at the age of four and by 12 I was studying in a conservatory. But there were 14 children in my class and the other 13 were girls, which I found embarrassing. So I started moving towards basketball. I entered law school after finishing regular school, but I went back to music. I think the three of them complemented each other and, in a way, helped create my music. Playing basketball taught me how to work with a team, which is useful because I have a huge team of musicians working with me all the time, and law taught me to be a more practical person rather than a dreamy artist.
What influenced your music? Growing up in Lebanon bombarded me with all kinds of music and cultures. And I’ve continued to pick things up since then. I’m working on a big musical for 2010 that has lots of Indian influences. You can find a lot of house and dance music influences too, because my music mainly is dance.
Fair enough. Tell us about your latest album, Assouman. It’s been number one for four weeks in a row in Lebanon and now it’s releasing all over the region. It’s definitely my best work ever. Half of the album is my typical style – east meets west with a modern twist; I’ve done a lot of Reggaeton with oriental influences, which is a new style. The other half of the album is more international.
You did your first concet at 16. How did you feel as you stepped up? I swear I can never forget that moment. All my musicians were older than me; I was the youngest and the boss. They were very cool and told me not to worry. Now I enjoy the stage so much. At the end of this year I’ll be performing in Dubai so I’m looking forward to seeing the audiences there.
I was going to ask if you were going to be performing here soon. I have shows in Dubai in October and November and I’ve been asked to come for the Dubai Jazz Festival next year.
Have you had any weird incidents with fans? Last year I had two shows in Armenia. A girl was trying to get into backstage and my bodyguard hit her. I saw it and I went crazy. I went into the crowd and we started searching for her. Then we brought her backstage and she stayed with me all through the concert. That was the weirdest thing that happened to me – I’d never seen a bodyguard hit a girl and it really disturbed me a lot.
What are your ambitions now? When I was young I wanted to be like my brothers. Later I wanted to please my parents, then I wanted to get the girls and then I wanted to make money. Now it’s all about my legacy. Assouman is available in stores on August 9.