Catalysts of the music scene.
The booming music scene in Saudi has reached the surface and moved from the underground to the main stage. Today, this underground scene not only surfaced but boomed and highlighted the need for it within the Saudi youth. The immense presence of musical talents in Saudi has been hidden for years and is now ready to showcase their talent and pave the way to a shift in the way we understand music.
The music scene in Saudi in previous years was mostly limited to the khaleeji genre with plenty of spaces catering for such events and concerts. In recent years, our understanding of music and live performances has somehow shifted and we were introduced to various forms of music and genres and discovered a hidden Saudi talent that took the country by storm with Saudi DJs and producers that have now reached the global stage.
The alternative music scene on the other hand has still not reached the level of popularity as electronic music in Saudi. The rock scene has been deep in the underground for so long that its resurfacing is not as easy as people think. However, when the talent is there, the shift is inevitable. Saudi bands that started on Youtube now have a chance to showcase their music to the public.
The potential of the alternative music industry in Saudi is at its peak since the supply of bands matches the increasing demand for live music across the kingdom. The more we allow musicians to perform, the more we will have musicians forming bands and exploring their musical talent. It gave birth to new genres of music that borrow traditional elements of music and modernize them to match the alternative music scene.
The path to success
The country’s music scene is thriving and evolving; we look into a record label, a budding band, a space perfect to appreciate the art form that highlights why it’s time to pass the mic to the indie genre in the country.
Wall of Sound
Homegrown Record Label
Wall of Sound is a new record label in Saudi that opened for business in October 2020. They focus mostly on alternative artists pushing the boundaries of music in Saudi and guide them to grow bigger within the country and the MENA region. “We are here to support, give guidance and inspiration, we believe so much in the artist’s creativity, it’s very crucial and a priority to us,” Ahmad, the founder of Wall of Sound said. At the moment, Wall of Sound represents 10 artists in Saudi Arabia, 2 in Egypt, and one in Jordan.
When they represent an artist, Wall of Sound provides them with a high-end recording studio in order to record the instrumentals, vocals, and percussions. They also provide them with the mixing and mastering before finalizing the visuals and promotional material. When all that is ready, the tracks are then released on music apps and youtube. The final step is the live show where the artists play their music in front of a live audience.
When asked about the importance of giving a chance to young talented musicians to shine within the music scene in Saudi, Ahmad answered, “It is very important because it is undeniable. We didn’t do it because we have to, we did it because we want to. Because if we have the tools to put it out there, then why are we waiting.”
“The indie music scene must leave the underground and be shared. It is contemporary culture. And culture is undeniable, we are simply shedding light on it. We hope it inspires all musicians and creatives to put their efforts into something they love to enrich the whole community and keep it alive and vibrant.”
One of Wall of Sound’s most exciting bands at the moment is Ana N7n, a Saudi rock band based in Jeddah. “Ana.N7n is a futuristic band! This band represents the new Saudi’s sound, new Saudi’s vision when it comes to lyrics, speech, freedom of thought, being different, and tackling exquisite topics that have not been widely discussed, their music is aggressive, wild, and very oriented to where they came from, which is Jeddah. They are the future of music, check them out!” Ahmad said.
Artists under the Wall of Sound Label
Reviving Rock and Roll
Music and storytelling go hand in hand, one may only try to thrive without the other, but in the end, they’re two sides of the same coin. As the art is passed down from generation to generation the youth of today has a new take on the rich tapestry that is musical storytelling. Ana N7n uses an alternative rock as their medium and has taken the forefront in this art.
In 2013 Abdulmalik Zubailah, one of the founding fathers of Ana N7n was invited to join a band, and when asked to sing he did. It was then and there that he knew he had the makings of a rock vocalist. He would then go on to meet his future bandmates and in 2019 Ana N7n was formed led by himself and Maan Balila, who is also the band’s drummer. They collectively decided on expressing themselves in their own dialect since they believe their music is for the people and needs to be understood by everyone.
“When it comes to writing lyrics, I usually handle vocal melody responsibilities, but I’m very bad at writing Arabic” stated Abdulmalik. But he has other tricks up his sleeves, what I do is count all the melodies and write lyrics in English, I then send it to Maan and he just does his own Hijazi Arabic thing.”
As they progressed, Ana N7n needed a way to solidify their presence in the music scene, so they went in search of a record label and were approached by Wall of Sound.
“What I like about them is, unlike most record labels where you have to speak to a representative to get through to another representative, you can just speak to the representative you need, Wall of Sound is literally a phone call away.”
When asked about how Wall of Sound understands the music scene in the country, Abdulmalik responded: “People are more aware of music that demands attention nowadays, and when it comes to commercial music or major artists, they don’t necessarily go through the process of making music that demands attention.”
Ana N7n are certainly traversing musical spaces, when asked where they see themselves in the future Abdulmalik said: “I sincerely have no idea, the scene in Saudi is so unpredictable that sometimes you’re baffled by it. For Ana N7n, if I had to dream, I would like to expand a bit,
not globally but within the Middle East.”
The Music Space
A Space for all Music
Providing a space for musicians to perform is the catalyst for the recent boom in the musical talent we have witnessed in Saudi. Live performance is the essence of each and every band. It allows them to understand where they need to focus on their music and also get an instant response to their music from the crowd.
Founded by Kaswara Alkhatib, The Music Space strives to be the one-stop spot where music lovers can go for high-quality, intimate, live musical experiences giving talented musicians a chance to perform and showcase their talents and in turn, develop their skills and unique styles while building their stage confidence.
The Music Space began a spiral effect when it comes to living music spaces wherein since its emergence, many places began including live performances in their event schedules giving a chance for the alternative music scene to properly grow.
“I believe many people will follow The Music Space’s idea, but that only means we did something right. We will feed off each other and help the music community grow in Jeddah and the Kingdom.”
As long as we have spaces for musicians to explore their talents, the more musical talent we will witness in the upcoming years. The increasing musical talent amongst the youth can redefine the public’s idea of live performances and we can hope to someday see live street performances from the public to the public.
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