Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to become a soloist?
I love publishing whatever I do, and I’d rather publish in big collections, whether it be a complete photography collection or music album. It is narrative and I target a specific theme or aim at a purpose through each collection. I did more than 10 photography collections over the past year and published them in one photobook to highlight on my emerge in producing art. I always saw myself doing music at a certain point, but I didn’t know where to start. I loved doing tribute videos for my favorite artists, mixing their music together and doing medleys. That’s where it started, I think, something from my montage skills at an earlier age, and my love to music, and to movies soundtracks and instrumentals to be specific. The real thing started when I came across a YouTube tutorial about how to produce The 1975’s Somebody Else. That’s when I knew the tools to start. When music developed to become my form of expression, I felt like producing a narrative album and releasing it as a statement and a reaction to my current overwhelming thoughts. The whole thing aftermath is a process, and I’m still within the process of emerging and getting more into the music industry.
It’s been a bit of a wild last year, how have you guys managed to pass time and stay sane during lockdown?
The lockdown to me was a capacity of extra time to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. Before the lockdown I had my vague visions of what I will become in the next few years, especially that I was about to graduate high school and start college. Throughout the lockdown, I invested big time in developing my photography, and produced art through it. I built my portfolio, established my online store that features my photography, and released my first photobook. This photobook is my first release under my “Art and Youth” title, and my music album is the second.
I started my first-year computer engineering during lockdown, so I haven’t experience the proper on-campus college life yet, but I got involved in extracurricular programs, one of which is the Conference Simulation Models (i.e. Model United Nations) that is hosted by my university (Lebanese American University) in Lebanon and in New York. I joined their amazing media and design team as a photographer and video editor.
The whole year has been an massive transformation, not as in terms of limiting it to building my personality and releasing toxicity from my life, but in terms of establishing who I am to be, the person doing the things that I have always dreamt of doing. I might not be currently receiving the full recognition or highlights on my work, but I know I will one day. I achieved my first step which is fundamental. Everything further is inherently dependent on the first step, how I established myself and how I pursued the things I love.
How positive are you feeling now we are in 2021?
Looking back at myself one year ago gives me the positivity for what is awaiting me. I’m always in the process of learning, and now that I’ve produced my first album, I know I can produce a better one. The only thing that is making me less positive is the struggle with promotion and publicity. I’m pessimistic about media and the mainstream, but I’m also new to the whole process, and I might be performing better, publicly, by the end of the year.
How has 2020 effected your mental health?
Like I said previously, the lockdown that started in 2020 has been my turning point. When I reflect on 2020, I’d rather take the general overview, and it has been positive to me, trying new things, doing things I love, being in good terms with my friends and I consider maintaining good friendships to be my greatest accomplishments which requires dedicated effort from both ends. However, in the light of what has happened in my country over the past two years, it has become the reality of every Lebanese to live under stressing conditions when we shouldn’t. Personally, I became frequently frustrated, less secure, very hopeless, and very anxious and that has affected my relationship with my friends. The peak of all this was post the Beirut Port Explosion on the 4th of August. Most Lebanese do still suffer from the post-traumatic experience anxiety, and most of them embraced it as their reality and tried to cope with it. My coping mechanism was my music and photography, which made me mentally better, less frustrated, but I’m still hopeless about the future of my country. I’m looking for the nearest possible opportunity to live and study abroad which will provide me with more capacity to work on my music and photography.
It might sound ironic, between my general overview of 2020 and the post-traumatic events, but I wouldn’t want to backfire at every crisis, it would be impossible to progress.
Whats your thoughts on uk music?
I am heavily influenced by my favorite music bands who come from UK. I’m a huge fan of The Bee Gees and The 1975. Both are lyrically geniuses and both, especially The 1975, had an influence on my music in terms of production and genre (ambient music). Both have been to me my guidance and a reference. I hope can get to meet them one day and learn more from The 1975 and of course I hope to meet Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees too. I’m also following and learning from emerging independent artists in UK through independent record labels. I even go across YouTube tutorials about production and most of them are from UK. They’re geniuses. UK artists have contributed a lot to music, especially when speaking about rock n’ roll, my favorite genre, and my favorite bands The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Queen, Led Zeppelin and more.
Whats lock down been like for artists in Beirut through lockdown?
On my personal level, lockdown was my chance to learn more about music production, release music and get more familiar with the whole process, so that as soon as lockdown is over, I can start looking more into where to perform and establish my live performance identity. On the smaller scale of artists I know from my socials, they have been consistently producing great content. Some are topping international charts on streaming platforms. They have been my inspiration and motivation to my music. It is overwhelming not to mention what Lebanese artists are currently producing, but I’m proud of the youth community of creators and I’m proud to be one of them. I hope these artists are highlighted on more frequently than they are currently being.
Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Beirut unsigned scene?
I’m following new artists every once in a while and I’m learning from them, some are my friends. I’d love to establish myself in a community of creators. It’s sad to see them not receive proper attention from the mainstream, but within the community, these artists are generously supportive to each other and it is what’s inspiring me the most. I received such support when I announced the release of my photobook and my music album. It means more than getting paid attention from the mainstream.
If your fans could remember one thing about you what would it be?
My friends know that whenever I post my work, photography or anything else, on my socials, I do that because I love it. I wouldn’t rather do that to get attention. I do not pursue photography or music as a career, it’s not like I’m stepping up in both for the sake of seeking promotion or attention. What you see from my work is a consistent development due to my love for doing more of it. You might find your self-satisfaction in someone or something, I find it in art through photography and music. I’d love everybody who sees my work, whether my friends or my new followers, to remember that.
What useless talent do you have/ party trick?
I’m not sure if it’s a talent but what I don’t like is how I can easily recognize anybody in public. You’d rather not want to be in that situation when you’re not ready to meet them.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?/ What was the worst experience on stage?
I haven’t performed yet. I started producing music during lockdown so I haven’t had the chance to perform due to restrictions, but I’m looking forward to doing so when restrictions ease a bit. This is my targeted plan after the album release.
Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus 🙂
What is currently pissing me the most is what has always been pissing me throughout my experiences and it is what I did the whole album for. The underestimation of youth especially those pertaining to my country, including myself. I certainly believe my country could have been in better conditions if more recognition were given to its youth. Instead, youth of my country, like my sister and soon like me, tend to leave the country and create wonders abroad. During middle school and high school, I participated in several international competitions that showcased the students’ talents, spirits, cooperation, technical and social skills, and their capacity for which they are able innovate global-problems solutions, and we (my friends and I) received lots of complements on how talented youth from Lebanon were. That is based of my witnesses, and I’m certain that we do exist in the most parts of the world. The impact of any change we can do is large and extends beyond any circumstance. That is what I tried to convey through my album. It pisses me to see us struggle and live unrecognized for what we have.
Tell me about your new album and how it came about?
The idea of the album came out before the songs did. I released my first two singles (Unconventional Strings and Preliminary) just for the sake of getting to know how the process goes. Both singles have their own signature, especially Unconventional Strings. They do fit alone, but the real message I wanted to deliver is constitutional. The album’s name “Rise, from Depths, of a Preliminary State of Youth: A Change Within One in Worlds” is determined by the track list, and the track list is put in a specific sequence. The first track “Rise: Unconventional Strings”, taken from my first single “Unconventional Strings”, is about art as a form of expression to the thoughts of anybody who performs art, specifically targeting youth. “Depths” is the origins of youth, where they come from, not geographically but as in memories, deep wounds, heartfelt experiences, and encounters that reflect on their art. “Preliminary” is the conditions that satisfy the intentions of a new change, which are art and the depths of youth. While these conditions might not be perfect on certain scales and perspectives, they are sufficient and of a minimal threshold to trigger a great impact. It’s like beware from the youth who desires to revolt for a change. “State” is the transition from the process of making art to the actual pursuit of a change in its required conditional forms. “State” in terms of music is a transition of genres, from ambience to alternative rock and elements of dream pop and lo-fi. “Youth” is the main course of the album. The song is vibrant and genre-blended, and it reflects my vision of how I see youth, with great capacity, potentially unconstrained, alive, and lively, and the main rhythm of life. Youth produce art from their inner depths to express their desire to change, and the impact of their change is as strong and heavy as the alternative “A Change Within” is. “One in Worlds” is the moral of the whole album, it says that change is real when everyone believes in their own potentials and convictions and that within each lies one world.
The general theme of each song came about after deciding on the sequence of the album and on the flow that goes from art to its contribution on the state of youth to their desire to change and its impact. The album also flows from ambient and shoegaze with less structured rhythms (Rise: Unconventional Strings – Depths – Preliminary – State) to more proper melodies, less ambient, more to lo-fi and alternative rock (Youth – A Change Within – One in Worlds).
The last few tracks are different versions of Depths (Stripped Version), Preliminary (Mastered Single Version), In Between (Synth and guitars of State) and Unconventional Strings (Outro- Radio Edit- Mastered Single Version).
How was the recording process given the various restrictions?
I produced the whole album on my laptop. The lockdown and restrictions were not much of a blockage to my work, they were an extra time because once we go back to on campus studies, I’ll beg for the least possible free minute I could get.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I’m currently focused on the process of the album release and promotion, and I’m trying to make everything better for my next releases. I’m learning from the flaws of this album to make sure to avoid them in any of my future releases. I’m learning more about production and I’m doing some new music, not planning to release them though. My primary focus, post-album release, is to live sample my music and focus on performances.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I hope my music album can resonate in everyone who believes in my message. If they’d give art the time to access them inwardly, they will feel a change within themselves. I’m a person that gives so much value for details, I admire the work of everybody because all the time given to produce art is worth of what is not tangible. I know it might sound unrealistic, but the more people appreciated the details, the more they could give within a relationship, within a community, and within themselves, and that is the change that I’m talking about.
I hope I can reach the most possible audience ever and I appreciate all the time given by everybody who read my message and who will listen to my album.
I’d also love people to look at my work that I constantly post on my socials, more precisely Instagram (@iamamiramine) and I’d love them to have a look at my online store that features my photography collections of my art and my country (www.amirstrings.com).
Make sure to pre-save my album which is going to be out on May 7th amiramine.lnk.to/RiseAlbum
Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.