MANAMA: Traversing cultural boundaries, social commentary and musical exploration, a Kuwaiti artist is creating a new vision of Arab and Khaleeji music can be seen.
Plus Aziz (stylized as +Aziz) formed Kuwaisiana four years ago when he decided to leave his brand strategy job in New York (where he had been based since 2009) and relocate to New Orleans to focus on his music career.
Kuwaisiana (a combination of the words Kuwait and Louisiana) mixes elements of funk, rock and reggae with evocative poetic lyrics about the day-to-day lives of Arab-American youth and the evolving viewpoint of Khaleejis living in the Arabian Peninsula.
“It’s an expression of us all working together as a band,” Aziz told Arab News of the band’s upcoming five-track record. “We’re at the mastering stage now, all the layers are fixed and we’re looking for someone to give it that last polish.”
Kuwaisiana’s debut record, “Chapter 1,” was released in 2018 and was followed by a US tour. The album – and band – were well-received, prompting Aziz to invest further time and energy into developing the project. The band will release the new record independently, after having a digital distribution deal with Universal MENA for their previous one.
‘Chapter 2,’ according to the 37-year-old singer-songwriter, will feature a less dramatic range of genres. “The first record was genre-hopping,” he said. “At the time I didn’t care about history or cultural context, it was more about presenting the songs we had as best we could. With the second release there’s a bit more sifting and refining the Kuwaisiana sound.”
When it came to writing and recording the new material, Aziz said he took a more calculated and structured approach, not only with the subjects and music, but also in involving the band members more in the process.
“I do believe it lives up to being a follow-up to our debut in terms of looking at this cross-cultural aspect. Right now, due to what I’ve been focusing on, it is skewing a bit too much to the Khaleeji side, so we’re trying to bring it back to the middle where there’s more second line and New Orleans jazz,” Aziz explained.
‘Chapter 2’ is set for release this fall.