Say it ain't so! Zeid Hamdan breaks from music biz

Published March 19th, 2015 - 10:15 GMT

For well over a decade, Lebanese indie music impresario Zeid Hamdan has had his finger on the pulse of the Arab underground music scene.

From rhythmically magnetizing listeners as half of the trip-hop duo Soap Kills, to discovering and collaborating with talented alternative regional artists, to carving out a spot in the Lebanese rock scene as part of melodic rock band “The New Government,” it is safe to say that Hamdan has made his mark.

To the dismay of many alternative music lovers, Hamdan recently announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from his music career. “I’m almost 40, and the whole rock star thing is not appropriate [after] a certain point,” Hamdan says, with an ironic laugh. “I want to stop before it becomes pathetic.”

Continuing more seriously, he adds, “I want to focus on my family instead of myself ... I’m going to stop working completely. I’ve decided to stay at home and take care of the kids. I’ll help [my wife] open up a business so that she can make the money.”

With a string of albums under his belt and a hectic live performance schedule, it is understandable that Hamdan might want to slow down. Avid fans need not fret, however, as Hamdan says his decision stems from an aversion to being presented as a musical commodity, rather than a reluctance to continue to produce and play music.

“I cannot stop doing music,” he says, “it’s something that is in my veins. What I have done will not be erased, but I will not be appearing as Zeid Hamdan doing an appearance, concert or an album. ... What I’m going to stop is [my public existence] as an artist.”

The constraints and pressures of the consumer market have long been associated with the commercial music industry, but Hamdan says these issues also permeate into the underground music scene.

“I want to stop worrying about how successful the work I’m doing is,” he says. Instead, “I want to worry about how good it is.”

Hamdan has two final performances lined up before his indefinite hiatus. He will be performing with Egyptian singer Maryam Saleh – who he describes as “the only Arabic punk singer on the Cairo scene” – at the Bus Station Beirut on March 27, as part of a two-night program of live music and DJ sets by regional underground artists, organized by Red Bull Music Academy.

His final performance is scheduled for April 1. Hamdan and an eclectic lineup of friends and fellow musicians will take to the stage of Radio Beirut for a concert billed simply as “The End of Zeid and the Wings.”

The lineup will consist of Mayssa Jallad on vocals, Marc Codsi on synth, Bashar Farran on bass and Anthony Abi Nader on drums and sampler. “It is very special,” Hamdan says, “because the people on stage are the new scene. They are the people that started 10 years after me, [and] it’s a great way for me to introduce great people and say goodbye.”

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