You may be wondering: Why not SoapKills? Why not The New Government? Why not any of the other projects Zeid Hamdan has partaken in? Well, all of those groups have their own unique charm to me, but it’s him and his style that makes those groups appeal to me, so instead of just going on forever listing all the projects and having him pop up in every one of them, I am dedicating a whole “analysis” to him and his work.
-Name: Zeid Hamdan (Shift Z)
– Genre: Electronic, Trip Hop, Hip Hop, Pop, Indie, Rock, Ska, Reggae.
-Years Active: 1996 (if Serge Yared is not mistaken)-Present
-History: Zeid started out playing guitar in an enigmatic band called Lombrix(with future collaborator Cherif Saad on bass). They released a CD, which features Yasmine Hamdan (no relation), the collaborator of Zeid’s side-project at the time, SoapKills
Either running parallel to, or after, Lombrix, Zeid formed the Arabic-Electronic-duo, SoapKills, contributing vocals, guitar, bass, and synthesizers, the other half being Yasmine Hamdan, contributing vocals and some guitar too I believe. They released their first EP “Lost” in 1997 with the help of Jihad El Murr, Wadih Saffiedine, and Philipe Tohme, as well as a live CD (“Live at Circus” (1999)) of a concert of theirs featuring Walid Sadek and Rabih Mroue that was interrupted by an Israeli airstrike. They grew very popular and went on to release two albums through Incognito (“Bater” (2000) and “Cheftak” (2002)) and a couple others themselves. They split up in 2006. Recently, Yasmine released an Arabic-electronic-pop album called “Arabology” with acclaimed producer Mirwais Ahmadzai.
In 2004, Zeid formed the record label Mooz Records with Khaled Mouzannar in order to help develop the underground music scene. The label produced and managed several groups including Kita3 Beirut, Scrambled Eggs, Ziad Saad (Pop Will Save Us), RGB, Trash Inc., and Zeid’s own group SoapKills, as well as a new group Zeid had just formed called The New Government. The label was forced to shut down due to the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Zeid continues to support the underground music scene with his website “Lebanese Underground”.
As previously mentioned, before SoapKills split up, Zeid had formed a 6 piece indie-pop-rock band called The Government, although they then became a 5 piece band called The New Government. They released two albums with this line-up, which consisted of Zeid on vocals and guitar, Jeremie Regnier on vocals and keyboards, Timothee Regnier on vocals and guitar, Cherif Saad on bass, and Nabil Saliba on drums. The two albums were called “The New Government Strikes” and “Party Animals”. In 2008, Nabil and Cherif left the band. Not sure what happened to Cherif, but Nabil went on to work on his electronic music as Trash Inc. So Zeid continued touring with the French brothers Jeremie and Timothee, and they still play together as The New Government to this day. They recently recorded some new songs for their upcoming 2010 album that are available for free download on their website.
Between all the post-SoapKills action and New Government activity, Zeid has done some collaborations with other artists. He collaborated with Kanjha Kora, a singer and kora player from Guinee. Zeid helped on his album and played live shows with him, RGB, an Arabic rapper from Lebanon who Zeid has helped produce demos and has played live with, and most recently, Hiba El Mansouri who he helped record an album and plays live with, sometimes along with RGB and Miles Jay, an American double bass player, forming the Baalbak Project. He played with a one-off band composed of himself, Miles Jay, and Miles’ brother Ian Jay (on drums) that was called Three Little Pigs, and they were something of a ska/reggae group. Most recently he has formed a group called Zeid and The Wings which consists of himself on guitar and lead vocals, Yasmeen Ayyashi on backing vocals, Sara Barraj also on backing vocals, Miles Jay on double bass, and Bashir Saade on clarinet and nay.
-Sound: Zeid’s musical range amazes me. He can cover anything from electronic, to hip hop, to pop, to rock, to ska, to reggae. I’ve seen him play rock, ska, reggae, electronic, and even a bit of metal live. He has a way of delivering electronic music that doesn’t come across as stale and similar to today’s trendy techno and house music. In SoapKills he incorporated traditional Middle-Eastern samples and instruments into the sound sometimes as well some more jazzy instruments like the saxophone or flute. He also had a variety in the percussions and drums he would use, sometimes just a synthesized drumbeat, sometimes a more natural drumbeat, sometimes incorporating Middle-Eastern percussion instruments such as the derbakkeh.
His voice is soft, able to effortlessly mimic that of his former band-mate Yasmine in live performances. It’s a very soothing voice. I like his voice a lot. My friends don’t, but hey, what do they know?
Photo of Lombrix (thanks to Serge Yared for uncovering it): http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-sf2p/v135/89/123/631455820/n631455820_577802_2388.jpg
Shift Z Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/shiftz
Zeid Hamdan Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zeid-Hamdan/40801722583?ref=ts
Zeid Hamdan Youtube Page: http://www.youtube.com/user/zeidhamdan
Lebanese Underground: http://www.lebaneseunderground.com/music/index.asp
Lebanese Underground Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=soap+kills&init=quick#/group.php?gid=2259609082&ref=ts
SoapKills Website: http://www.soapkills.com/
SoapKills Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/soapkills0
SoapKills Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/SoapKills/8629471906?ref=ts
The New Government Website: http://www.thenewgovernment.net/tngsite/index.asp
The New Government Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thenewgovernment
The New Government Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=soap+kills&init=quick#/group.php?gid=5315992074&ref=ts
Kanjha Kora Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/kanjhakoraduo
RGB Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/rgb961