Zahed Sultan

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Zahed Sultan
Zahed Sultan Performing Live at the Barbican.jpg
Sultan performing at The Barbican in 2015.
Background information
Origin Kuwait, India
Genres Alternativeelectronicexperimental
Occupation(s) Multimedia artist • entrepreneur
Instruments Vocals • keyboards • visuals
Years active 2011-present
Website zahedsultan.com

Zahed Sultan is a London-Kuwait based multimedia artist and entrepreneur. He has performed and presented his work worldwide, including North America, UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Sultan is particularly known for his live audio-visual-dance performances.[1]

Music career[edit]

Career beginnings[edit]

Sultan began his career at the age of 14 as a DJ for both mixed and segregated parties in Kuwait.[2] During his time in college, he worked as a promoter for nightclubs around Boston, MA (US).[3] Sultan wrote his first track at the age of 22, using a PC and an analog Roland sampler to program and sequence the song.[4] Several years later, he created a small body of work entitled illusive for a local exhibition in Kuwait.[5] At 25, Sultan won 3rd place in DJ Sasha's Involver remix competition with Global Underground and Ableton.[6] Sultan's remix was later signed by Sasha's label Xpander to the TV series Crime Scene Investigation (CSI).[7]

Releases[edit]

Sultan released his debut album Hi Fear, Lo Love on April 1, 2011.[4] Its first single, "I Saw Her, I Fell For Her" was licensed to the movie 11.6 directed by Philippe Godeau.[8] Its second single, "I Want Her But I Don't Want Her" was featured on Stephane Pompougnac's internationally acclaimed Hôtel Costes, Vol. 15 compilation and thus became the first modern track from the Persian Gulf area to be featured on a global music compilation.[7] MTV Iggy featured Sultan's third single "Walkin Away" and highlighted Sultan as an emerging Arab Artist.[9] On September 1, 2011, the album was followed up by the Hi Fear, Lo Love Remix EP, featuring remixes of Sultan's work by artists such as Domscott and Bjorn Albyon.[10]

In 2012, Sultan released an EP titled Reuse Me in conjunction with an annual exhibition organized by his organization (The en.v Initiative) in Kuwait entitled REUSE.[11] The exhibition promotes eco-friendly living via creative mediums.[12] The EP featured the song "Like This (Ha-Ka-Tha)" and won favorable reviews by a number of online magazines and blogs such as The East / West Sound.[13] Later in 2013, Sultan was also featured on O2 Academy TV in London, UK.[14]

On September 16, 2014, "Ghazi", the first single of Sultan's sophomore album eyeamsound was released, providing a glimpse into the alternative electronic sound of the record.[15] The second single, "Democrazy", was released on May 5, 2015[16] and the album eyeamsound itself was released worldwide on June 2, 2015.[17] Musically, Sultan describes the songs on eyeamsound as having «a lot of texture and body to them». On the album, Sultan mostly sings in Arabic and English, with an additional song in broken Spanglish.[18] With titles like "Bedoon", the third single inspired by the life of stateless citizens, Sultan took a distinctively more socio-political route.[19] Music from the album has been featured on Hype Machine[20] and a short film released by Red Bull highlights his sound and live format.[3] «Strengthening Sultan’s rapidly increasing discography»,[21] in September 2016 he released the single "Cake & Butter". «Venturing into the alt-rock genre in his own unique way,» Sultan's vocals on the song «bear some resemblance to the Lizard King himself, The Doors’ Jim Morrison.»[22]

Continuing his exploration of traditional pearl diving music from the Persian Gulf region, Sultan released the Hiwar Sessions EP on May 5, 2017. This body of work was created in collaboration with producers from cities such as Kingston, Ramallah, Beirut, and Bombay to reimagine pearl diving music through Dub and Experimental music.[23] Sultan recently completed the soundtrack to his debut documentary effort Vibrations that was recorded at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston, Jamaica in collaboration with up and coming musicians from the Reggae and Dancehall scenes. [24] The soundtrack is due for release in early 2018. Mama Bamba was the first single to be released from the Vibrations soundtrack, released on June 30th 2017. [25]

Collaborations[edit]

Sultan puts a great focus on collaboration, in the studio and when performing live.[26] He has worked with many creatives like Ali Alipanahi, BASSically, Kiani Del Valle, Klein & West, and Timothy George Kelly amongst others on various projects.[27]

In February 2016, Sultan introduced two new collaborative projects. The first one entitled Resonance was a live, multimedia project teased at the RBMA Bass Camp in Dubai,[28] featuring dancer Jakob Yaw[29] and debuted at NYU Abu Dhabi,[30] featuring contortionist-dancer Mabrouk Gouicem (FR), visual artist Teun Verkerk (NL), and multi-instrumentalist Muhaisnah Four (AE).[31] The second one entitled Hiwar was in the form of a two-week residency and final live performance in collaboration with The Heart of Sharjah association. «The intention for Hiwar was to explore the roots of pearl-diving music from the Persian Gulf region and discover musical bridges between traditions past and trends present.»[32]

Hiwar was then reproduced in Dubai on April 12, 2017, to kick off the inaugural RBMA Weekender in the Arab region, “re-contextualizing the application of ‘bahry’ culture within a present day format.” Zahed premiered a short film related to the project, also entitled Hiwar, alongside an in-depth interview with RBMA discussing “the utilitarian purpose of pearl-diving music, the evolution of related forms in the Gulf and how to celebrate cultural diversity without being a purist.”[33] In late 2017, Hiwar was commissioned by a leading company in Muscat, Oman to re-imagine mountain, land and sea music from the country in collaboration with local talents through audio, visual and dance. [34]

Music style[edit]

In an interview with London Live, Sultan described his music as «alternative electronic», using live instrumentation as well as electronic music to «fuse those worlds in a live scenario [and blur] the lines between analog and digital».[35]

Regarding the evolution of his musical direction from Hi Fear, Lo Love to eyeamsound, Sultan said that there «has been a significant departure from my initial body of work in terms of topically, recording and arrangement wise not to mention a multi-disciplinary approach to live performance».[26]

Music production[edit]

In addition to his own projects, Sultan has worked as a music producer for Saudi Arabian singer / songwriter tamtam, on her debut single / remixes EP Little Girl[36] in 2012 and her Games EP in 2014.[37]

In 2017, Sultan contributed to composer and conceptual-artist Fatima Al Qadiri's EP Shaneera as the vocals tracking engineer for the album at his recording studio in Kuwait, contributing to ″a safe space where they could be at ease″. [38]

Music curating[edit]

In September 2013, Sultan attended the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) – Bass Camp in Dubai[39] and has since collaborated with Red Bull frequently as a performing artist[3] and as a music curator.[40] Together with Red Bull - Kuwait, Sultan hosted the inaugural RBMA Session – Kuwait and launched an alternative Arab music festival titled «Kuwait Rising» in January 2015.[41]

In July 2015, Sultan was part of Doug Aitken's Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening at the Barbican Centre in London, UK for the Shubbak Festival.[1] During a short on-site residency at the Barbican Art Gallery, Sultan created an «interactive audio-visual immersive experience», drawing from a series of live performances in the past, including both music from eyeamsound, as well as unreleased music in collaboration with a number of artists from different fields.[27] In October 2015, The Vinyl Factory released a short film on their website of Sultan's immersive performance at the Barbican Centre.[42]

In January 2016, Sultan hosted the RBMA Session – Kuwait which gathered 25 participants in a series of talks, educational workshops, and live jams.[43] The Session included a second edition of the «Kuwait Rising» music festival which featured acts from Egypt, Lebanon, India and a headlining performance by HVOB from Austria.[44] Sultan hosted a third edition of the festival in October 2016 featuring acts from the Middle Eastern and South Eastern regions.[45]

In April 2016, Sultan organised the REUSE festival in collaboration with TodaysArt in Kuwait City. REUSE attracted international artists like NONOTAK, The Era, and Norimichi Hirakawa to showcase their works in digital art, interactive media, music and performance.[46] In April 2017, Sultan was commissioned to curate a satellite edition of his REUSE festival in collaboration with the RISE Festival in Dubai. Celebrating the future of living, the REUSE x RISE program featured performances, installations, and collaborations by artists who work with new media[47] such as Chagall, Sandunes and Maurice Mikkers amongst others.

In September 2017, Sultan was invited by UK music blog Stamp The Wax to create a City Guide to his favourite places in Kuwait along with a music mix of emerging talent from the country. ″Zahed is helping grow Kuwait's unique underground music scene and put the Arab city on the international alternative music scene's map.″[48]

Conferences[edit]

In August 2016, Sultan was a panelist at the C/O Pop Festival in Cologne, Germany, discussing Cultural Entrepreneurship and how to learn from the creative music industry.[49] In November 2016, Sultan presented a performance talk at Nuqat entitled The Institute of the Future in collaboration with Kuwait-based experimental duo Bloom Tribe.[50] In April 2017, Sultan presented a talk at the inaugural STEP Music Conference, Dubai, where he shared his inspiration and ideas behind his ongoing project on traditional pearl diving music from the Persian Gulf, Hiwar.[51]

Other ventures[edit]

Social impact[edit]

In 2008, Sultan co-founded en.v, an organisation dedicated to fostering social development and civic engagement in the Middle Easy by empowering individuals and organisations. Its programs focus on building capacity and creating strategic networks among local civil society organisations (CSOs), youth initiatives, the private sector and governmental actors. Through collaborative efforts and educational outreach, en.v enables communities to identify and pursue innovative approaches to local and regional challenges. [52]

Film[edit]

Having released a series of music videos and short films between 2011 and 2017, Sultan has completed his first documentary entitled Vibrations which he co-directed and executive produced. The film follows Sultan's journey as he re-imagines heritage music from Kuwait in the form of a cultural exchange with local youth in Kingston, Jamaica while emphasising the role social and political challenges played in forming a vibrant, creative community in the country today. The film is expected to be shown at festivals in 2018. [24]

Personal life[edit]

Sultan's father, Ghazi Sultan, is from Kuwait and studied at Harvard University under the Bauhaus-legend Walter Gropius and went on to co-found one of the largest architectural firms in the Middle East, KEO International Architects.[53] He also co-founded a leading gallery for modern Arab art, Sultan Gallery.[54] His mother, Aruna Sultan, is from India and is a landscape designer, «who championed the right of women to work onboard Air India at a time when the profession was considered disreputable».[53] Sultan has two brothers, Nader Sultan and Tahir Sultan, who is a New Delhi based fashion designer.[55] Sultan grew up in Kuwait except for a couple of years that he spent in India during the Gulf War.[4] Sultan studied Business Administration at Boston University, and, after graduating, returned to Kuwait and worked at Agility.[56] Soon after, he relocated to London to study Audio Engineering at the SAE Institute. He returned to Kuwait thereafter to work on music and his ventures.[56]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Hi Fear, Lo Love (2011), self-released
  • eyeamsound (2015), self-released

EPs[edit]

  • Hi Fear, Lo Love Remix EP (2011), self-released
  • Reuse Me (2012), self-released
  • Hiwar Sessions (2017), self-released

Singles[edit]

  • Ghazi (2014), self-released
  • Democrazy (2015), self-released
  • Cake & Butter (2016), self-released
  • Mama Bamba (2017), self-released

As a producer[edit]

  • tamtamLittle Girl (2012), self-released
  • tamtamGames EP (2014), self-released

Filmography[edit]

Title Year Role Genre
I Want Her But I Don't Want Her 2011 Producer, Director Music Video
Like This (ha-ka-tha) 2012 Producer, Director Music Video
eyeamsound 2014 Producer, co-Editor Short Film
Resonance 2015 Producer Short Film
Borders Unreleased Producer Short Film
Cake & Butter 2017 co-Editor Music Video
Hiwar 2017 Producer, co-Director Short Film
Vibrations 2018 Executive Producer, co-Director Documentary

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Zahed Sultan". Shubbak. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Staff, Bazaar. "Zahed Sultan: Hi Fear Lo Love". Bazaar. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Muttoo, Ambika. "Meet Zahed Sultan, Kuwait's One Man Music Industry". Red Bull. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Bull, Red. "Zahed Sultan: A Kuwaiti Artist's Musical Journey". Red Bull. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Illusive By Zahed Sultan". Zahed Sultan. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Kuwaiti Music Artist Goes Digital: Zahed Sultan Exclusive Interview". Khaleejesque. Retrieved 4 November 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ a b "Zahed Sultan Appears on Internationally Renowned Compilation 'Hotel Costes 15 by DJ Stephane Pompougnac'". The Grapevine. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "11.6". Itunes. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Videos, Music. "Zahed Sultan Walkin Away". MTV Iggy. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  10. ^ "Hi Fear Lo Love: Remix EP". Itunes Preview. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Tafline, Laylin. "Kuwaiti Musician Zahed Sultan Launches Eco-Electronica Track 'Reuse Me'". Green Prophet. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Zahed Sultan Releases Enigmatic New EP & Video: 'Reuse Me' EP". Zahed Sultan. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  13. ^ M., Andreana. "Preview of Zahed Sultan's 'Like This (Ha-Ka-Tha!)'". The East / West Sound. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Backstage Chat, O2. "Zahed Sultan: An Audio-Visual Experience from Kuwait". Youtube. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Campbell, Naomi. "Zahed Sultan: 'Ghazi'". The Noise Gate. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Democrazy". Saavn. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "eyeamsound". Amazon. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  18. ^ Staff, TripleW. "Zahed Sultan Drops New Track 'No Me Canto'". Triple W. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  19. ^ EINabawi, Maha. "Zahed Sultan 'Bedoon'". Beehype. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "Zahed Sultan". Hype Machine. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  21. ^ SCENENOISE, TEAM. "Single Review: Zahed Sultan's Cake & Butter". Cairo Scene. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  22. ^ The, Revue (Staff). "Saturday Sampler". The Revue. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  23. ^ Bull, Red. "Zahed Sultan on Exploring Traditional Pearl Diving Music from the Gulf". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  24. ^ a b "Arab-Dub ReggaeDocumentary". Television Jamaica. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  25. ^ Shamoon, Fatima. "Mama Bamba". Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  26. ^ a b Kuwait, Red Bull. "Zahed Sultan: eyeamsound". Red Bull. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  27. ^ a b "Forming A Harmonious Collective: Zahed Sultan Discusses His Residency at The Barbican". Shubbak. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  28. ^ Muttoo, Ambika. "Inside RBMA Bass Camp: Dubai". RBMA. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  29. ^ Anonymous, Anonymous. "Jakob Yaw". 500px. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  30. ^ Garrett, Rob. "Zahed Sultan's Show Resonance Comes to Abu Dhabi's NYUAD". The National. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  31. ^ "Zahed Sultan / DJ Dolores". NYUAD - The Arts Center. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  32. ^ Al Sadek, Dana. "Hiwar Project - Performance". Maraya. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  33. ^ Bull, Red. "Zahed Sultan on Exploring Traditional Pearl Diving Music of The Gulf". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  34. ^ Unknown. "Works". Ali Phi. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  35. ^ "Zahed Sultan Speaks to London Live". Youtube. Shubbak Festival. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  36. ^ PISCEAN. "Song of The Day: tamtam 'Little Girl'". The Side Talk Blog. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  37. ^ "Gender Game: EP". Itunes. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  38. ^ Lhooq, Michelle. "Fatima Al Qadiri on the risks of making Queer Arabic Dance Music". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  39. ^ Allers, Jackson. "Searching For The Blueprint". AudioKultur. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  40. ^ Al-Shammary, Noof. "Red Bull Music Academy's Kuwait Rising Festival". Horyou. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  41. ^ Yazin, Cevap. "Zahed Sultan: From Kuwait To Earth". Cisetta. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  42. ^ "Watch an Immersive Film of Zahed Sultan's Performance at Station to Station". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  43. ^ Fattahova, Nawara. "The Second RBMA Session - Kuwait: A Great Success!" (PDF). Kuwait Times. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  44. ^ Anonymous, Anonymous. "RBMA Session Kuwait With Bosaina and More". RBMA. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  45. ^ "Red Bull Music Academy Presents: Kuwait Rising Winter Sessions". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  46. ^ "REUSE 2016: This Weekend". 248am. Retrieved 13 April 2016.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  47. ^ Milner, Will. "Rise at Dubai Creek Harbour Promenade Starts Tomorrow". Time Out Dubai. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  48. ^ Zur-Zpiro, Mia. "City Guide: Zahed Sultan Presents Kuwait City". Stamp The Wax. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  49. ^ Anonymous. "We Are Europe: TodaysArt and Insomnia Festival at CO Pop". TodaysArt. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  50. ^ Nuqat, Nuqat. "The Institute of The Future By Zahed Sultan". Nuqat / The Creative Economy. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  51. ^ Anonymous. "Zahed Sultan: Reimagining Music from the Arabian Gulf". STEP Conference. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  52. ^ Riegler, Ruth. "Inspirational Environmentalism From en.v". Al Watan Daily. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  53. ^ a b Dhar, Govind. "Tahir, Who?". Bespoke Magasin. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  54. ^ Khouri, Kristine. "Mapping Arab Art Through the Sultan Gallery". Arte East. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  55. ^ "Tahir Sultan". Tahir Sultan. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  56. ^ a b "Zahed Sultan Interviews with Al Yaqaza". Zahed Sultan. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 

External links[edit]