A humble yet fantastic music sensation is in Kuwait. You can see him at almost every stage and gig, playing the part of a musician, singer or an emcee; he is there even organizing and managing the event. That is Tarek Kabbani, a day-time graphic designer working at Kuwait Financial Centre ‘Markaz’, and a night-time musical ‘Batman’.
Hailing from a family in Lebanon, Tarek was born and brought up in Kuwait. He talked fondly of his family who gave him his musical roots and his passion for the art. His uncles played and performed live in Kuwait as far back as 30 years ago, while his siblings are also talented musicians.
Tarek lives and breathes music and technology, and happily gave The Times Kuwait a glimpse into his multi-faceted life.
How does your day start? Something special you do?
Every day starts with a simple coffee and drive to work, where I sometimes start a live Instagram feed, and record improvised rap/ singing freestyles over lofi instrumental hip hop beats. Once at work I immerse and dedicate myself into my other passion of communication design, where I give my full efforts into creating design content with a clean message and quality.
It’s like my day is divided into two, where my night-life as a musician starts after 5pm, and during my day I’m a simple graphic designer trained from Toronto, Canada.
How do you plan your day when you have a scheduled musical event?
Almost every day after my morning shift I spend my time running around and meeting as many people as possible; organizers, agencies and of course other musicians. I also spend a lot of time collecting as much positive energy as I can to go about with my planned tasks so as to prepare for an upcoming weekend event.
Actually it’s a natural drive that keeps me going and excited, and lets me do everything needed for a performance. It’s this energy that lets me swim through the many rounds of practice and sound checks that each event requires before the final performance. I also dive deeper and become more skilfully and mentally focused in order to give every show my best.
Anything special you do to prepare for a show?
Well, I do a meditation in my own way, where I fully relax and listen to music or play an instrument just to hype and energize myself. Often this involves a round of drums with my best friend since 15, or with my latest prized possession the hand pan; a beautiful instrument that I discovered over a decade back, which produces a unique tone, to the frequency of meditative music.
Then of course I spend time with my band members before the show. It’s just like a football huddle where all the players huddle up and prep for the game.
How does Kuwait influence your everyday routine, your music and you as a person?
Life here in Kuwait has helped me push myself to discover my talent and passion for music. It is the culture that has influenced my plans and practices, where Kuwait has definitely made me who I am and who I hoped to be.
It is this original soul of Kuwait that has given me this platform and stage to grow and learn as a musician. Yes, indeed Kuwait is the best place for one to discover art and gain exposure to performance.
Kuwait is a training hub that can make anyone confident in his art, to look within and discover, to be inspired. I look up to everyone who is around me. This city has taught me to be inspired by whoever I work with and am around. Of course my family being the most important and my friends next.
Most memorable stories from your life in Kuwait and the story of your first performance in Kuwait?
Every day I’m most thankful to Kuwait for my first opportunity as a professional performer in live music, with my band at the time called ‘7oudster and the Tutkish HashCats’ (THCs). This was during the first days of my journey performing live in Kuwait, which then later led me to performing and sharing a stage with almost every musician on the scene, one of whom was Nawaf Gheraibah, his being one of the biggest shows that I have been a part of.
Another beautiful and interesting stage I shared was beat-boxing over Beethoven with the vocal choir of LAPA, and a French orchestra that they had invited. It was indeed another unique opportunity. I once even had the chance to share the stage with Zeid Hamdan who invited me out of the blue to beat-box and jam with him live during the first Kuwait Rising music festival.
It is these memories and gifts from Kuwait that keep me going every day and let me discover even more opportunities where I always try to give my best. Indeed these memories are an important part of my everyday routine as well.
Looking forward –Music and life in Kuwait?
Some of the upcoming small but fun events in the next few months are a show with my current band, ‘Label’, a private show at the American embassy, a performance with poet and writer Nejoud Yagout, a potential performance with Nasser Qabazard, on behalf of The Juke Pro and a charity show at the German embassy.
All these shows and many more shows are taking place all over town. Some great venues to keep an eye on include Dar Al-Athar Al Islamiyya, in Yarmouk, Wejha Art Centre in Pearl Marzouk, and BARBA warehouse in Shuwaikh.
Some of the artist agencies include: The Juke Pro, Not Necessarily Famous, and Mr. Fari’s Talent Shop.
There is indeed a lot of cool people doing a lots of creative things at various cool places. And most definitely I do recommend to be a part of these festivities in Kuwait, especially for those aspiring artists to gain network and to practice your craft. That’s the key to having fun and to getting out there and discovering beauty in it all.
I discover music even in pots and pans, forks and knives. Anything that can create a beat interests me, and that I would say is the secret that allows me to live my passion.
By Meryl M
Exclusive to The Times, Kuwait