|Associated acts||White Trees|
|Past members||Omaya Malaeb|
Mashrou’ Leila (Arabic: مشروع ليلى sometimes transliterated as "Mashrou3 Leila", meaning "Leila's project") is a Lebanese seven-member alternative rock band. The band formed in Beirut, Lebanon in 2008 as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut. Led by frontman and co-founder Hamed Sinno, the band has released three studio albums, Mashrou' Leila (2008), El Hal Romancy (2011), an EP, and Raasük (2013) while causing many controversies due to their satirical lyrics and themes.
Formation and early years
The band was formed in February 2008 at the American University of Beirut, when violinist Haig Papazian, guitarist Andre Chedid and pianist Omaya Malaeb posted an open invitation to musicians looking to jam to vent the stress caused by college and the unstable political situation. Out of a dozen of people who answered the call, seven would remain to form Mashrou' Leila. Band members were encouraged by friends to perform in front of a live crowd; they put on a show as the opening act for a concert on the AUB campus. During the event Mashrou' Leila proved to be the only band who were writing and playing their original music. What started as a workshop evolved into a hit band after playing in small venues, and gaining ground on the underground music circuit.
Mashrou' Leila emerged onto Lebanon’s music scene during the Lebanese 2008 "Fête de la Musique" event (the yearly Music festival held by the Beirut municipality) sparking controversy for its unabashed and critical lyrics on Lebanese society, failed love, sexuality and politics. In 2009, at the same festival, Mashrou’ Leila played in front of a large following where fans moshed to their music in downtown Beirut. The band's breakthrough single "Raksit Leila" (Leila's dance) was awarded both the jury and popular awards at the Radio Liban's 'Modern Music Contest' held at Basement (club) in March 2009. The first prize was a record deal. Mashrou' Leila’s self-titled debut album produced by B-root Productions was released in December 2009 at a steel factory in Bourj Hammoud (a suburb of Beirut) where 1200 fans crowded the factory yard. The gig turned out to be Beirut's biggest non-mainstream event in recent years and has been a big hit among Indie and Rock fans in Lebanon. The band's concert at the Byblos International Festival on July 9, 2010 was one of the most anticipated events of the summer. It was attended by scores of fans as well as the Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. In November 2013 they played at the Red Bull Sound Clash in Beirut with Lebanese band Who Killed Bruce Lee.
In the summer of 2008, drummer Carl Gerges formed with Paul a new band, White Trees, as a side project; the two-man duo band released a self-titled EP of six songs in 2008. Both Mashrou' Leila and the White Trees provided the soundtrack for Cheers, to Those Who Stay, a short three-part web film diffused over YouTube in June 2010.
Mashrou' Leila's members enjoy the wordplay and ambiguity surrounding their band's name. In English, the name can be interpreted as either “One Night Project” or “Leila’s Project”; Leila being a very common given name in Lebanon. When asked during an early interview about the origin of the name Mashrou' Leila, band members teasingly retorted that the band is a project started to collect money for a girl they knew called Leila. According to the band’s official Facebook page, Mashrou’ Leila means “An Overnight Project”, named for the nocturnal nature of the project characterized by all-night jam sessions.
- Hamed Sinno as the lead vocalist.
- Haig Papazian on the violin
- Omaya Malaeb on keyboards
- Carl Gerges on drums
- Ibrahim "Sketchy Bob" Badr on bass guitar
- Firas Abu-Fakhr
- Andre Chedid on guitars
Themes and style
Mashrou’ Leila's entertaining themes and satirical Lebanese lyrics reflect the many faces and flaws of Lebanese society which are not addressed by mainstream Arabic music. The band is critical of the problems associated with life in Beirut and they are known for their liberal use of swear-words in some of their songs. Their debut album's 9 songs wittily discuss subject matters such as lost love, war, politics, security and political assassination, materialism, immigration and homosexuality. "Latlit" one of the Mashrou' Leila album tracks is a caricature of the Lebanese society overridden by gossip. "Shem-el Yasmine" (literally Smell the jasmine), a song reminiscent of Jay Brannan's "Housewife" was described as an ode to tolerance for same-sex love where a young man wants to introduce his bride to his parents but the bride turns out to be a groom. "Fasateen" (literally meaning "dresses") is a ballad that tackles the issue of marriage. The song's music video shows the band members deconstructing nuptial symbols and defying the pressure of romantic relationships. Some of the distinctive features of the band's music is the prominence of the violin in passages redolent of Armenian folk music and the use of a megaphone in some songs to alter frontman Hamed Sinno's voice.
In popular culture
- Hamed Sinno, the lead vocalist of the group, was featured on the cover of October 2013 issue of French gay magazine Têtu. The interview in the same issue was titled "On peut poursuivre son rêve après son coming out", literally "You can pursue your dream after coming out".
All songs written and composed by Mashrou' Leila.
|Mashrou' Leila (2009)|
|3.||"Min el Taboor"||3:28|
|5.||"Shim el Yasmine"||5:10|
|El Hal Romancy (2011)|
|4.||"Imm El Jacket"||3:00|
|6.||"El Hal Romancy"||3:45|
|8.||"Ma Tetrikini Heik"||2:26|
- Now Lebanon staff (2009). "Concert: "Mashrou’ Leila Album Release", Demco Steel Warehouse, 21h". NowLebanon. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- el-Jor, Ashley (2010). "Mashrou’ Leila - Mashrou’ Leila 2009". www.lebanesemetal.com. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- al-Fil, Omar (2010). "Mashrou' Leila: the rise of the underground". www.hibr.me. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Chahine, Michelle (2010). "SOUNDSCAPES - Rocking Beirut: A Night Out with Mashrou’ Leila". www.HeloMagazine.org. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- Bainbridge, Meg (2009). "I want to be Leila". www.nowlebanon.com. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Hamdar, Mohammad (2010). "تجربة ما قبل النضوج: حجر الاساس لـ"مشروع ليلى"". www.nowlebanon.com. Retrieved 2010-10-03. (Arabic)
- Byblos International Festival (2010). "Mashrou’ Leila". www.byblosfestival.org. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Wakim, Jocelyne (2010). "مشروع ليلى تألّقت في بيبلوس". www.aljarida.com. Retrieved 2010-10-17. (Arabic)
- Rouveyrolles, Chloé (2010). "Regardez la nouvelle vidéo de Paul, "Paris Calling"". www.iloubnan.info. Retrieved 2011-01-16. (French)
- "White Trees". www.lastfm.fm. 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- Cheers, To Those Who Stay - Chapter 1: Beirut, 20 Years Later (flv) (Motion picture) (in English, Arabic, French). Beirut, Lebanon: Orange Dog Productions. 2010-06-25. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Gay Lebanese singer Hamed Sinno navigates Middle Eastern taboos through music
- NPR staff, Ashley (2010). "The Spin: Beirut's Jam Is Mashrou' Leila's 'Embembelela7'". NPR Music. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Sayegh, Nasri (2009). "Leur plus belle histoire d’amour…". l'Orient-Le Jour. Retrieved 2010-10-03. (French)
- "The first gay love song of the Arab pop?". Interpreting the Arab world and Islam. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
- Videomedeja (2010). "Fasateen - Mashrou' Leila". VIDEOMEDEJA 2010 Awards. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- "Têtu حامد سنّو فتى الغلاف على" (in Arabic). Al Akhbar, Beirut. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Rebecca Chaouch (25 September 2013). "Hamed Sinno, un artiste libanais en Une du magazine gay Têtu" (in French). Al Huffington Post Maghreb. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Têtu October 2013 cover of Hamed Sinno