Artist Analysis: Zeid Hamdan (Shift Z)


Photo of Zeid Hamdan by: ??? Photo of SoapKills by: ??? Photo of The New Government by: Tanya Traboulsi. Photo of Kanjha Kora and Zeid Hamdan by: ??? Photo of The Baalbak Project by: ??? Shift Z Logo by: Charles Vallaud

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):

Shift Z Myspace:

Zeid Hamdan Facebook Page:

Zeid Hamdan Youtube Page:

Lebanese Underground:

Lebanese Underground Facebook Group:

SoapKills Website:

SoapKills Myspace:

SoapKills Facebook Page:

The New Government Website:

The New Government Myspace:

The New Government Facebook Group:

Kanjha Kora Myspace:

RGB Myspace:


6 thoughts on “Artist Analysis: Zeid Hamdan (Shift Z)

  1. Zeid started waaaay before with a band called Lombrix in 1996 if am not mistaken!
    Here is a picture of an early performance of Zeid’s first band:

    Cherif Saad is on the guitar, Zeid on the bass.
    You can spot also Ziad Saad (Pop Will Save Us)

    “we were young…”

  2. Pingback: “Yallah Underground”: Digging Up Buried Treasures. « Feel Notes

  3. hello Omar ,

    thanks again for writing my bio ! i can finally send it to the people who ask for it !

    just a litle correction in the beginning .

    I started on guitar with Lombrix , Cherif was on Bass
    It s only when cherif left The New Government (in 2007) that i started to play on bass .

    We released our first ep “Lost” with the help of Jihad el Murr (head of Mtv) Wadih Saffiedine ( manager of LCI ) and Philippe Tohme (producer of Blend , Eileen Katchadourian)
    We only collaborated with Incognito (cd teck at the time ) on Bater and Cheftack album .
    Many regards…

  4. Soapkills started in 1996 — first EP “Lost” was released in 1997 (I still have a copy :)) — there is also a Lombrix CD out there (my friend Karim Harb has a copy) on which Yasmine sings, by the way.

    Bater was released in 2000 – Cheftak in 2002. Enta Fen was never released, sadly, but there is a LIVE IN CIRCUS CD somewhere out there (yes i have a copy too :)), on which Walid Sadek and Rabih Mroue perform as well.

    Between 96 and 97, Soapkills did a series of concert in a restaurant in Ashrafieh called Babylone — the restaurant was a famous hot-spot in those days, known for its atmosphere, concerts, and of course DJs — yours truly, followed by my brother Jawad, followed by Jade (yes, himself) some years later.

    Soapkills split up in 2006.

    Oh, and Zeid was never a part of Scrambled Eggs. Although he did contribute to a short-lived (and excellent) group called SHOOT SHOOT, which had members from New Gov and Scrambled.

    Does this help?

    • Thanks for the info Ziad.
      I swear, those old CDs need to either be officially re-issued or pirated due to lack of availability… People are missing out on classics here!

  5. Pingback: Lebanon / USA – Zeid Hamdan’s Concerts of February/March 2010 | Live In Beirut

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