Lebanese musician Zeid Hamdan and Syrian singer Lynn Adib team up for Bedouin Burger

Bedouin Burger is a bold and energetic new collaboration between Zeid Hamdan and the Syrian singer Lynn Adib. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Lebanese musician Zeid Hamdan and Syrian singer Lynn Adib team up for Bedouin Burger

  • The duo’s new project is about ‘surviving chaos through a celebration of life’ says the Lebanese musician

BEIRUT: Zeid Hamdan, a softly spoken pioneer of Lebanon’s underground music scene, may be in lockdown in Beirut but that hasn’t stopped him kickstarting Bedouin Burger, a bold and energetic new collaboration with the Syrian singer Lynn Adib.

A dynamic blend of classical Arabic poetry, Egyptian pop, analog synths, acoustic recordings and old drum machines, Bedouin Burger has married Adib’s Bedouin vibe with Hamdan’s vibrant underground sound. The end result? “A painful scream turned into a release of steam,” says Hamdan of their inaugural release, “Taht el Wared” (Beneath Roses). 

“I think the song resembles our existence today. Surviving chaos and death through an intense celebration of life and love,” he says. “I think we both put into this project what we love most and were open to each other’s ideas.”

Bedouin Burger is a dynamic blend of classical Arabic poetry, Egyptian pop, analog synths, acoustic recordings and old drum machines. (Supplied)

“I think Zeid and I meet on an intellectual level,” says Adib, who once sang with the Church of Our Lady of Damascus choir. “We are right on point and pragmatic, but also dreamers and sensitive. I needed to work with someone who knows what he wants to say in music and definitely knows how to do it on a technical level. We meet in the middle between our two worlds. I’m very much into experimental and improvised music and Zeid helps me put my ideas in a more readable way.”

The duo first met at the home of Tanjaret Daghet, a three-piece Syrian band with whom Hamdan has been working closely for a number of years. “We immediately clicked,” says Hamdan, who is arguably best known as one half of seminal trip-hop duo Soapkills. “Lynn has an energy that charms you completely. She is beautiful and funny and doesn’t show off her immense talent. She’s very humble.”

Much of the power of “Taht el Wared” comes from Adib, particularly her lyrics, which are drawn from a visit she paid to her husband’s grave a year after his death. “I felt strange leaving him there by himself (beneath rocks and roses),” she explains. “As if he’s still alive and waiting for us to entertain him. At that time I used to often listen to ‘Nantes,’ a song by the French singer Barbara, and she described how her dad was equally left alone asleep ‘en dessous des roses.’ After that day, I felt this song had to be brought to life.”  

A portrait of the french singer Barbara. (AFP)

The project’s artwork, with its distinctive psychedelics and pop-culture imagery, is also the work of Adib, who studied flute at the National Conservatory of Damascus before discovering jazz at the age of 19. She moved to Paris in 2009, studying at the American School of Modern Music before pursuing studies in vocal jazz at the Conservatory Regional Influence De Paris. Throughout her career she has sought to blend traditional Arabic music with jazz and the religious songs of ancient Syria.

“The ‘look’ of the Bedouin?” she asks. “It’s the challenge I want to express. The challenge of me as an Arabic singer wanting to do bold things and not being afraid of judgment. An invitation for others to learn more about me through my music. The Bedouin choice is also this desire to belong to no specific place or country, to be ‘free’ and move around, to be primitive, to look at life in a rawer way yet apply our experience and knowledge to it.”

Since Adib’s move to Beirut last year the duo have been inseparable, bouncing ideas off each other, setting up recording sessions, jamming, laying down tracks, and producing “crazy harmonies to classic songs.” The lockdown has given them the time they needed to focus on the project, with the plan being to a release a track every month, as well as accompanying videos and visuals for each release. 

“I would like for this project to take on an artistic and musical level that includes even more research on a personal and musical level,” says Adib. “I want us to dig more into our childhood, past loves, unachieved dreams. And whatever makes us both leave our comfort zone would be, for me, the higher aim for both of us. To grow and push people to grow and change themselves to a better version.”

‘Work It’ playfully explores ambition through music and dance

Updated 11 August 2020

‘Work It’ playfully explores ambition through music and dance

CHENNAI: Laura Terruso’s “Work It” — one of Netflix’s better releases in the recent months of the pandemic — centers on a young woman’s dream to get into the college that her late father attended. The charming film has an easy pace and, despite its predictable nature, makes for a compelling watch, largely owing to the dance sequences, which form the core of the plot.

Produced by Alicia Keys and performed by a cast of actors in their twenties posing as high schoolers, “Work It” is essentially the story of Quinn (singer and Disney star Sabrina Carpenter), a student who receives excellent grades at school, is focused and has few interests outside her campus. She does have a dream, however, and a desperate one at that — to get into Duke University. Quinn is determined to receive admission into Duke after she graduates from high school.

“Work It” centers on a young woman’s dream to get into the college that her late father attended. Supplied

It seems her grades alone are not enough, however, and in an interview with the head of Duke, a slight misunderstanding occurs. Quinn is mistaken for a dancer, and it appears her admission hinges on her being one. She is not even part of her school’s award-winning dance team. So, she enlists the help of her best friend, Jas (YouTuber-turned-actor Liza Koshy), who is a superb dancer. As the plot progresses, Quinn falls in love with Jake (singer and “Hamilton” star, Jordan Fisher), also an accomplished artist, who doubles as her coach. 

Quinn assembles a team of girls and boys — who can barely shake a leg but who are eager to be part of her efforts — to join a dance competition. The group has difficulty finding a place to practice but eventually find a spot at a nursing home, where residents turn in by seven in the evening. There is a hilarious scene in which Quinn and the dance group begin a practice session only to elicit the interest of one of the residents, who appears to have been disturbed by the noise but who, much to the surprise and amusement of the group, sportingly joins in!

“Work It” is playful, and the dance sessions are a lot of fun to watch, despite Quinn’s desperation to get it right. The 93-minute run time has never a dull moment, not even when Quinn is deep in the dumps, having been rejected by Duke and finding it a struggle to get her body to sway to the beat.