Detroit techno and French pop along with Arabic music influences. Mix that with themes of a Lebanese revolution, COVID-19, BLM, the death of Arab LGBT+ rights activist Sarah Hegazy, and much more and you have Nouvelle Vague by Wake Island.
The electronic duo has now released the song twice, once in French and another time in English. Their full length LP is due to drop on April 30th, 2021, and with that album, the duo explores identity and transformation through their immigrant perspective. The album features songs in English, French and Arabic and is “a tribute to the Arab community who are often faced with no other choice but to leave their homes in search of peace and freedom.”
“…we wanted to show the avalanche of events that happened to us during the year from the Lebanese revolution to the Beirut explosion, the never-ending pandemic, Black lives matter, the death of Sarah Hegazy, the dismantling of the music industry and more. All these events affected deeply us on a personal and professional level. That said, 2020 was also a year where we found love, explored new artistic avenues, opened a new studio, found new sources of inspiration and learned how to improve our lives. We felt a profound shift in our society, a rise of empathy, a curiosity about this “other” that we thought so different, but who turned out to be just like us.”
On the 13th of June, 2016, the staff at the NPR Tiny Desk concert series could not have planned the emotional show that would be recorded that day. The band, Mashrou’ Leila, had just arrived the day after the shootings at the gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando.
With everyone still in shock, staff and invited band, Mashrou’ Leila changed their set list and performed 3 beautiful songs, including the opening one called Maghawir (Commandos) which is about a similar shooting that happened in Beirut. The following concert is raw, emotional and full of grit.
The singer of Mashrou’ Leila, Sinno, is openly gay which is quite the task in a country like his native Lebanon. The band has therefore much experience with threats, bans, oppression and judgment from both government, religious organisations and people on the streets.
They have always carried on though but the latest in their story is bringing in support from bands from other countries in the form of concert cancellations. Dutch metal band Within Temptation just cancelled their upcoming show in Lebanon in support of Mashrou’ Leila.
The Byblos International Festival was also to feature Mashrou’ Leila but recently the band found out they had been pulled off the bill for security reasons after the festival organisers received threats and demands of doing so stating that the band is “offensive to religious and humanitarian values and Christian beliefs”.
In a statement on Facebook from the band they write: “We have been tried on the street, everyone who wishes to be a judge will make judgments, and do it against us. This is a way out of the logic of the state, a departure that hits the core of any sense of security we have and any ability to art and creativity.” (Google automatic translate).
Furthermore the clarify that they have utmost respect for any religious beliefs anyone might have and that they are not out to offend anyone. They love their home country, their fellow people and making music.
In the face of oppression of the arts, other artists, like Within Temptation in this case boycotting a show, is a much needed and powerful stand to take.
Besides these terrors Mashrou’ Leila faces regularly as a band they are a perfect fit for Shouts to shine a light on. They regularly use their voice as a tool for activism, all the while knowing full well what dangers that can cause to their physical safety.
Check out their 360° music video they made in cooperation with Greenpeace and their latest music video called Cavalry which is about the cruelty and machismo of militarized oppression:
“Best stop brandishing that sword of yours Lest you fall right off of your throne If I fail, if I die I’ll come back every time Till I’ve seen you through Every head you cut turns into three I burst into armies of me”