We sit down with Labanese artist Gharam Electric to celebrate his latest release ‘Ya Boy’ on Ya Boy Records. We discuss his heavy involvement in the indie scene, his sound, his studio set up and more…

 

Hi Wassim! Great to have you with us. How are you?

Living 🙂

How has your 2024 been so far? What have been the highlights?

2024 has been a good start for me musically, without the ability to really enjoy it because of what’s going down back home. Difficult to continue life with so much injustice. But hoping that music, and pushing culture forward, at least expresses how we feel and gives us a louder and deeper voice. That’s why starting this label and launching it at the start of 2024 is a very implement milestone in my career as an Arab artist.

And how was your 2023? What were last year’s stand out moments for you?

2023 like all the years since 2017 for me, have been about finding my sound. Immersing myself totally in what it means to produce and put out a fresh new sound for my generation and my culture. It’s a constant learning process and it’s maybe the most important creative exercise I’ve ever been part of.

Tell us about the ‘Ya Boy’ project. What make you stray form indie to the dance music spectrum?

I think I’ve always been very interested in music that moves people. Physically moves them. Anything that has groove and has the ability to make people shake, whether indie or dance, for me is right up my alley.

And tell us about your involvement in the indie scene? What is the story behind that?

I was always a rock child. Rock n Roll was a huge part of shaping my musical palette. So in some sense I also carried that with me into my dance music spectrum. I write dance music like a rock head would right dance music. My biggest intro into the music industry was with my band Who Killed Bruce Lee (my indie rock band), that was my main project before Gharam Electric. And with WKBL, I was able to tour the world for three years and really be part of the music scene, and undertand how everything works. It was when I was far from home, touring with my band in Germany in 2017, when I decided to start my own project and to find my voice within my culture and within our sound.

How would you describe ‘Ya Boy’s’ sound? What is the inspiration behind it and what are you trying to convey sonically?

The inspiration was quite specific. I love Ed Banger, and the rock n roll side of electronic music, and I feel it tells a story that is deeper and more profound than regular house and techno. And I wanted to create a similar energy but with Arabic music without resorting to folklore or to Arabic fetishism. So I had to kind of reimagine how I would put Arabic vocals on a heavy dance tune and how I would rock the dance floor with such a banger. I wanted people on the dancefloor, whether Arab or not, to feel empowered by the sonic magnitude of the tune.

What you say the scene in the Middle East is like at the moment?

It’s developing and at a very quick pace. There is much more development in the Arabic hip hop scene than any other scene, but the rest of the genres are catching up as well. The youth today really value their original voice and want to create and find their own identity within that voice. My generation caught on a bit late, because of the identity crisis we had growing up after being colonised for so many years. the new generation is not influenced by that, the new generation understands the importance of local culture already.

What is your studio set up like?

It’s my loving acid box, a reissue of the 303, my 808 drum box, and the amazing Arturia Mini Brute SE that I moded in order to play microtonal quarter tone frequencies that are part of Arabic scales. I used to have so many other analog synths lying around, but I’m much more focused now. Even with plugins, I use only two plugins all the time: the mighty Surge and the Synplant.

What was used for this release?

Samples for the drums, Surge for the bass, Surge for the main raw square wave Line, and Surge for the pad. I also used some Egyptian percussions that are called Sagat, which means finger cymbals

What was the last record that blew you away?

The Youssef Kamal record. Haven’t heard something in the recent years that blew my mind as much as that album.

What do you like to do to relax outside of music?

I’m a huge and avid Sauna enthusiast 🙂 What I learned from the Germans living there for 3 years. I use it to destress and feel better about life all the time.

What other genres of music do you enjoy outside of indie and dance?

I love Arabic hip hop. Artists like Bu Kulthoum, Bu nasser touffar, Marwan Pablo, Marwan Moussa, Abyusif, and many others. I love listing to Neo Jazz a lot, artists like Kamal Williams, Youssef Dayes, Moses Yoofee, Jazzbois and others. I also love african music and I listen to Fela Kuti so much over the past years. I always go back to Fela.

What does the rest of 2024 hold for you? What other projects can we expect?

I have 7 other releases as Gharam Electric on the Ya Boy Records Label, but what’s exciting is the other artist that I will be working with this at will be releasing on this label. Ya Boy Records, that I named after the first release on the label, Ya Boy, will focus on being back Arabic music to the heart of the conversation when it comes to club culture and dance music culture.

Follow Gharam Electric HERE.

Buy ‘Ya Boy’ HERE.