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.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been passionate about music and theater. With a passion for organization and creating new projects, I’ve worked on organizing many parties and events. My goal is to succeed in democratizing many types of art because in the end, as André Malraux said, art is the shortest path from human to human.
If I were a song, I would be Kuku by Hilight Tribe or You Make me Feel by Sylvester
If I were an artist, I would be Serge Gainsbourgor Pierre Desproges.
If I were a book, I would be Les Dieux voyagent toujours incognito by Laurent Gounelle
If I were a dish, I would be A Raclette, even on the sunniest day
If I were a dessert, I would be A Paris-Brest.
If I were a spice, I would be A red hot chilli pepper.
If I were a sport, I would be Trekking
If I were a period in history, I would be 70’s.
If I were a movie, I would be La Grande Bellazza by Paolo Sorrentino or The Green Mile by Frank Darabont or Trainspotting by Danny Boyle.
If I were a series, I would be Bates Motel, the adaptation of Psycho By Alfred Hitchcock
If I were a verb, I would be Enjoy
If I were an adjective, I would be Curiosity
If I were one of the five senses, I would be All of them
If I were a flower or a plant, I would be Olive Tree
If I were one of the five elements, I would be Air
Universally used, notebooks are defined as “a small book with blank or ruled pages for writing notes in.” With the emergence of laptops and the dominance of technology, many now prefer to take their notes and scribbles on their laptops or tablets. Nonetheless, the authenticity of notebooks is everlasting. There’s something unique about feeling the pages brush against your hand as you write, draw or doodle your thoughts; about smelling the raw pages as you flip them. Just as with the debate on reading from a book or from a screen, the debate on whether notebooks are still in use or have been replaced by electronics is one that has no answer.
Yara Saad, graphic designer, has her own answer to this debate. Yara’s passion for creating and design lead her to graduate from ALBA university (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) with a BA in Graphic design and Advertising. Among the things she enjoys are cooking, travelling and everything that has do with arts and crafts. Below, we sat down with Yara to see what drove her to start her Yayo notebook collections and why.
What motivated you to study graphic design?
Ever since I can remember, I expressed myself through arts and crafts. So when the time came to choose a career path, it only made sense to turn this hobby and my passion into my profession.
What do you think are the key skills a graphic designer should have?
I think that the most important thing a designer should have is taste and an eye that understands what’s appealing and what’s not; that’s something that can’t be learned.
Other than that, It’s really important to practice, practice, practice and work hard.
How did you start making notebooks and why?
After attending a workshop that taught the basics of bookbinding, I locked myself in my bedroom for one week while trying out different kinds of bindings with different kinds of textures and papers. At the end, I had more than 30 notebooks and I didn’t know what to do with all of them, but I knew that I had discovered a passion and I had to do something about it. That’s when I decided to build my brand and started participating in small exhibitions and garage sales to sell my creations.
When did you first realize you’re interested in this?
My obsession with notebooks started a long time ago. Wherever I was out and saw unique notebooks, I used to buy them and store them on a shelf in my room without ever writing anything on them partly because I was scared to ruin them with my dull handwriting! The day I discovered the workshop teaching bookbinding basics, I knew i had to register immediately; and i did. After struggling during the workshop, I stayed up all night determined to perfect the bindings that I did earlier in the day and that’s when I realized that I had found something I’m truly passionate about. I had finally found something I love, something I was looking for all along: arts and crafts meets scrapbooking meets design.
Which one of your designs is your favorite and why?
If I really had to choose one, I would say that my favourite product is the daily planner simply because I can be very flexible and customize each and every planner depending on the interest of very client.
How do you choose the material you use and where do you get it from?
Every time I travel, I always carry with me an extra bag just for new cover material. I think this is one of the things that make Yayo stand out. I have textures and patterns from india, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and many more places. This makes every notebook a “limited edition” and therefore unique.
Tell us more about your future plans and what you aspire to achieve.
Moving forward, I’m going to do more focused and customized notebooks. They’re not only going to be plain on the inside as there will be a template, similar to the daily planners or the baby books that I had done a while ago. I also want to do a line of designed stationary and host workshops to share my passion with others who are as passionate about this as I am!
She has always had a passion for music and singing. Despite having a successful career in finance in a multinational company, Carla Saad was adamant on pursuing her passion, music, which is why she left her job in 2014 to dedicate her full focus on As Per Casper. Read on to find out WHY, HOW and WHAT!
I read somewhere that you quit your fulltime to pursue As Per Casper, how come?
I was growing more and more weary and frustrated as my mind struggled to disconnect from the ‘corporate‘ to tap in to the ‘creative‘. I found myself dissatisfied with my profession despite my success and achievement. Something was always missing; it didn’t feel like me and not pursuing my passion was slowly becoming disruptive. I had just turned 30 and I remembered realizing that this passion, the one that keeps me up at night sometimes and the one that has been a vital part of my life ever since I could speak, surely deserved my full focus. Somehow, everything fell into place once that realization happened. Shortly after, I was introduced to Frank Kafka’s work and his words as quoted below, that he had written over 100 years ago, simply summed up my experience.
“It is easy to recognize a concentration in me of all my forces on writing. When it became clear in my organism that writing was the most productive direction for my being to take, everything rushed in that direction”, “Naturally, I did not find this purpose independently and consciously, it found itself, and is now interfered with only by the office, but that interferes with it completely…. My development is now complete and, so far as I can see, there is nothing left to sacrifice; I need only throw my work in the office out of this complex in order to begin my real life.
The Diaries of Franz Kafka, 1910-1913
How did As Per Casper come to life?
I had made a new friend at football, Sebrina, who had mentioned that she was a musician. It took a jam session or two for us to realise and appreciate the musical harmony between our voices and styles. An impressed friend taking part in the first ever Sikka Art Fair, a contemporary gathering of young talents, in 2011 had recommended us to management and we got in. We needed a name and fast. Casper had already been my nickname at that point as Sebrina deemed me the whitest Arab she had ever met and with a quirky suggestion from one of our other friends, As Per Casper came into play and still is.
How is the music scene in Dubai and the Middle East?
I have been around the scene long enough to see it go through many stages. From there being no platforms for original music to be showcased to having several initiatives come into play, introducing Dubai (& Abu Dhabi) to the amazing local talent and exposing the local talent to an audience. As Per Casper has gotten to where it is as a result.
The scene continues to see regular shifts and I believe it’s due to the following:
The UAE’s turnover in expats which brings with it shifts in interests and musical tastes as well as the need for continuous reestablishment by bands.
It is also very much dictated by the brands in the market. For example, renowned sports brands associate more with the hip hop scene and back it up accordingly by collaborating with artists; events like Sole, establishments like D3, brands like Adidas all provide opportunities for artists in this category. This boosts that specific genre as a result.
The scene is what major players/influencers shape it to be. They mold and make it into what they want. I felt that tangibly when I co-founded the Rock Camp for Girls UAE in 2013 to encourage more women to enter the music scene at an early age, and that did indeed happen. So it’s up to us as artists to pave the way.
As of today, I believe musicians continue to be seen as entertainers instead of artists and that’s a shame as the original content coming out of the region is powerful and deserves to be heard and recognized.
What are you future aspirations/plans for As Per Casper?
We want to reach further and more. We want our music to be heard regionally and internationally and for that to happen we need to be present in these areas. We want to go on tours, perform for audiences, connect with them directly and not behind a screen or on social media platforms. That’s why we are in the process of booking gigs outside of the UAE.
Thank you for your interview and interest in our story and journey. We need people and organizations like you to help us carry our music forward!
It’s such a hassle to house-hunt in Lebanon, isn’t it? If you’re not going through it personally, then maybe you know a friend, a friend of a friend, a second cousin or someone who is!
You have no idea what’s going on in the market, you see a house you like and suddenly you’re asked to pay five times your budget for it and there are so many properties that you don’t know where to begin looking! Newspaper listing? Online? Real-estate TV shows
Well, it’s finally happening.
WHAT is finally happening?
En Quête d’Appart, produced by OBBO prod, has been running for 3 years in France and is the first real estate entertainment weekly TV Show where you get what you see! In their fourth season, the show will be airing on a daily basis on another french channel as of this March as Carrément Bien(s)! With over 100 interviewed celebrities, over 3,000 properties sold and over 100 real estate developers and agents all over France, the show is landing in Lebanon in February 2019 in its Lebanese version, Bedkon Beit.
So what is Bedkon Beit?
Bedkon Beit is NOT your typical real-estate TV show. The explosive duo of local hosts will be doing EVERYTHING to test and find the best real estate deals! They’ll be going from fun property visits, to giving tips and conducting celebrity and street interviews.
Who will be on board?
Recognized real estate experts, consultants, developers and major market players will showcase their selection of properties for sale and/or rent as well as their vision of the real estate market and housing in Lebanon.
As of February 2019, Bedkon Beit will be broadcasted daily on a leading Lebanese TV channel ! Episodes are already being filmed in collaboration with MAD!
So… How MAD is Bedkon Beit?
MAD talents will be featured on the show. Yes, you read that right. In addition to distribution and marketing of the TV show, you can expect to see MAD talents featured on the show as well as celebrities and all kinds of entertainment.
Bottom line is…
Lebanon, get ready for a truly MAD real estate entertainment TV show that’s going to glue you to your screens, make you burst out in laughter and introduce you to the best real estate properties and deals you can find in the country.