In popular culture, Neo Soul is considered a relatively new genre that arose in the 1990s and quickly gained popularity among lovers of pop, jazz and R&B.
Neo Ninj is an up-and-coming dynamic French Neo Soul duo paving their way in the French music scene, hoping to break barriers and go global! Get to know more about how Neo Ninj started and what they hope to achieve in the future.
How would you define yourselves and what do you do?
We are a french neo soul band based in Paris. Alex plays bass and I, Nelly, sing and produce the tracks. We sing in both english and french and try to develop a world full of science fiction, glitch art and old school hip hop.
What pushed you to start Neo Ninj?
I’ve had different bands throughout the years but this time around I was looking for new musicians and new people to start a whole new, different project with. I met Alex at a fusion jazz music festival in Miami and we just started hanging out regularly. When we were both back in Paris, he listened to some of my first songs and liked them right away; after that I happened to hear him play bass at a private event and I liked his style and sound… And that’s how it all started!
Where did the name originate from?
A friend of mine used to call me “Ninj”, short for “lil ninja”, because I’ve always been full of energy and fond of action movies. I thought “Ninj” alone would be short for a band name and I wanted to add something extra to it; “Neo” came up while I was watching The Matrix one and I thought it would fit perfectly!
How has your experience as Neo Ninj been so far and what’s your take on the French music scene?
We’ve been blessed to be living in a city that is so diverse and that is home to so much incredible local talent. We’ve been having lots and lots of fun so far and it doesn’t stop there; we’re trying to collaborate with artists from different fields, mainly designers and other musicians to produce impactful and beautiful pieces.The french music scene is really vast and interesting, but we also listen to a lot of ‘western/american’ music mainly due to the weight of their impact in neo soul/RnB music!
What are your future plans?
We are currently working on our first EP and we’re releasing a new music video very soon. We’re also aiming to shoot new music videos, building a trustful team to work with and maybe starting a label here in Paris (or somewhere else!)
It’s always a source of inspiration hearing about artists pursuing their goals, passions and dreams; this is what makes Joseph Zaitouny a source of inspiration!
How do you define yourself? I am an actor. I care about finding connections with others and exploring the human condition through art.
How did you get into acting? Has it always been a passion? When I was younger, I was in the boy scouts and we used to create plays for the people in our town; it was the most fun I’ve ever had. It was especially rewarding to see how much people were enjoying our shows. This made me very happy and I’ve loved performing ever since.
What was the most exciting role you’ve ever played? In 2015, I was part of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov where I played the young student Peter Trofimov. It was the most challenging and exciting role I’ve ever played, not only because of my love of Chekhov’s work, but also because Trofimov is someone who is trying to find his way in a world that he’s also in conflict with.
Who are your biggest influences/muses? As an actor,Daniel Day Lewis has been one of my biggest influences, and I find so much joy in watching him work. Anton Chekhov and Maria Irene Fornes have also had a deep effect on my own process as a writer and on my perception of the world.
Favorite play and movie? “Tango Palace” by Maria Irene Fornes is an exceptional play that I had the opportunity to produce, direct, and perform it back in 2013. “Successful Life of Three” (also by Fornes) and “Escape From Happiness” by George Walker are some of the funniest plays I’ve ever read. I love all of Anton Chekhov’s short stories. “Illusions” by Ivan Vyrypaev is a brilliant take on life, love, and theatre. Last but not least, “Zoo Story” by Edward Albee is a great piece of work and I’m currently re-discovering more plays by this wonderful playwright. As for movies, the list is very long but the ones I never get tired of watching are “Shine” by Scott Hicks, “My Left Foot” by Jim Sheridan, “There Will Be Blood” by Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Shinning” by Stanley Kubrick, “Doubt” by John Patrick Shanely, “Flawless” by Joel Schumacher, and “Gangs of New York” by Martin Scorsese. As a comedy fan, one of my favorite comedic actors is Steve Carell and I enjoy watching him in everything!
What are some of your future plans? I currently have a Feature Film in pre-production, and will be working on two more plays this year. One of my passion projects is Stand-up, but until now, I’ve never found the time to sit down and create a solo piece. This year promises to be a busy one, but more importantly, I hope that people can connect with the work.
The satisfaction one gets from pursuing their passion is indescribable. This is the case with Mohamad El Dreini, our latest MAD talent who is an artist and designer pursuing his dreams after having studied a different field all together. Mohamad tells us about his passion, his motives and his future plans.
When did you first realize you’re interested in design/art? I first realized my passion in school, mainly during my senior year when i started drawing on the walls of the school and on my friends hands and jeans at that time.
What did you study and how did you choose to study it? Entering university, I chose to study interior design, but in all honesty, I originally wanted to study fine arts. Due to the lack of orientation opportunities given to freshly graduated high school students, I didn’t go into fine arts. I believed at the time that choosing something like interior design would give me a strong base to build a good career and that I would go into fine arts afterwards.
Tell us about the most exciting project you’ve worked on? Any and all art projects excite me. But one of the most exciting projects I have worked on was my first ever workshop (intro to sketching and concept building) in which I gave all those who are interested in sketching and creating concepts tips and steps to follow in order to improve. That experience gave me a satisfaction I could never have imagined and it helped that the reviews were all positive!
What do you wish to convey through your art/design? Going into this major, I had one goal in mind: to learn everything that I can and to give back as much as I can through educating, helping others and offering fun experiences.
What are some of your future plans? I really hope to be able to open up my own art space, The Mental Art House, giving people a setting to paint, to attend classes and to exhibit and see exhibitions. Something else I hope to achieve is to develop workshops mainly centered around sketching, building concepts, contrast drawing, texture drawing, modeling, coloring and other interactive concepts.
Working in his domain as an engineer, Sam Ghobril combines his passion for what he does with his passion to produce music to become day none. If you’re a believer in the Lebanese music scene and a music lover, you will want to read on and get to know more about our latest MAD talent Sam and day none!
So, tell us a little about yourself: what do you do and how did you start playing music? I’m currently an engineer working at Anghami and I’ve always been pretty involved with technology. When I was in high school, I discovered that I could combine my passion for tech with my passion for making music (having been a classically trained pianist). I first began messing with Logic Pro, a digital audio workstation, until eventually turning to Ableton Live, another kind of audio workstation and sequencer, and really diving into the possibilities of that piece of software.
Your life is very tech-oriented, so why stick to the same pattern and choose electronic music? I feel that it began because of my familiarity with technology. It allowed me to quickly begin seeing my ideas turn into songs. Also, electronic music allowed me to make songs using nothing but my laptop if needed, which is hugely liberating. However, a lot of what I do relies on organic sounds and “classic” instruments. I record a lot of guitar, piano, and ukulele sounds that I play into my laptop, as well as a lot of random organic sounds such as environmental sounds, doors, tools, and more, manipulating them into something that’s sonically pleasing.
What does the name “day none” refer to/how did you come up with it? It came from my frustration with delaying things until the first day of the week, month, year, etc. I realized that that never really justifies anything and all I have at every moment is now.
Who inspires you when making music and what’s your creative process? Some of my favorite artists that I always refer to are Nicolas Jaar, Jamie xx, Four Tet and DJ Koze. I feel the emotions they’re able to convey through sound to be truly inspiring. I also love drawing inspiration from different forms of art, mainly modern art. As for my creative process, it involves a lot of experimentation. I could start with a sample from vinyl or a synth sound that I create, or maybe even a drum pattern, and then the track grows organically from there.
What’s your biggest fear and your biggest accomplishment so far? My biggest fear is that my improvement stagnates. So far, listening back to older tracks of mine, I always notice an improvement and that really keeps me going. I don’t want to reach a point where that’s not the case. As for my biggest accomplishment, I’m not really sure, but the simple fact that I’m still making music and still performing is something that I don’t take for granted, and I just wish that nothing forces me to stop pursuing that passion.
What do you have to comment on the music scene in Lebanon and being a part of it? I feel we have a lot of really great artists, and a lot of innovative music being made. However, I feel artists need more platforms to be able to reach wider audiences. I’m sure there’s a lot of music that we don’t get to hear simply because there’s no spotlight on these creations, or because some musicians have given up in frustration.
Where do you see day none and yourself in the near future? Ideally, I hope to be able to reach a point where I can sustain myself through my music, be that through DJ gigs or a reasonable record label deal. In the very near future, I hope to be throwing a release party for my upcoming EP, and that I’m able to make the EP what I envision it to be.