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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Azizat Beirut / My interview with Aziza in Now Lebanon (English version)


On a sunny Saturday afternoon, in a café in Mar Mekhayel, I’m waiting for Aziza.

Here she is; a young talented singer in her twenties, with a relaxed look, a dynamic attitude and a beautiful smiling face that contrasts with her mature voice.

As she is ordering a fresh juice, I get curious.

How would you like me to present you Aziza?

Aziza is a singer that comes from Beirut; she’s immersed in the old Lebanese pop culture as well as the Egyptian “tarab” songs. She can sing from the 20’s of Abdel wahab and reach the 90’s of Sabah. This is her background. But Aziza tries to revive these roots in a modern, quirky, fun image to be more accessible to the public.

So you are modernising the image of “tarab” into a new pop look. How did you find your stage name?

Wherever I sang Mohammad Abdel wahab’s song “Aziza”, the crowd would shout that name as if it was mine and whenever I would sing this song and transform into “Aziza”, I would feel empowered as if I was the greatest singer in the world! So I felt that my career should start with that name and I became “Aziza”. It could have not been any other one.

The name imposed it self to you but you choose the songs you sing. How do you proceed?

“Aziza” was born three years ago and so far she has been singing covers of Lebanese and “tarab” songs. I choose the songs I feel for. If a song is very popular and I don’t feel it I don’t sing it. I only sing what I can deliver well.

I know that your first profession is film editing. But you left it to become a 100% singer. Why did you do that and do you consider singing a job?

Singing is my job actually. Throwing away my audio-visual education was a big decision to take. Because it is a huge responsibility to live my life as “Aziza” with all the ups and downs. It’s hard in this community to survive as a singer. But so far I’m doing better than I expected. (laugh) People are loving this!

You sing twice a month at The Blue Note in Hamra; do you sing for others or just for your self?

I sing for both, it’s a matter of balance.  I cannot sing for people and not sing for my self, it would show and I cannot sing for my self and not give people the attention they want. I sing for each and every person in the room and that’s why they are getting attached to “Aziza”.

You also apply this philosophy to your repertoire. You revisit songs of other composers but you also compose for your self. Tell us about that and about the video that was on TV.    

I started composing music and writing lyrics at fifteen. I have a collection of around fifty songs. I released a year ago my first single “Fekra” and it’s video. A mix between “tarab” and electronica. That was a baby step of where I’m going and what’s my colour in music. Nowadays I am working on my first album, a ten songs selection that are not electronic but simply crazy Arabic pop. This album is about the emancipation of “Aziza” and will be called “Aziza”.

Since you are on the verge of releasing you first album, this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about your collaborators.

Sure, I would like to mention that “Aziza” is not one individual, but a team working to make this project come to life. The executive producer of the album is Jana Saleh and the music arranger is Raed el Khazen. We are collaborating with my songs and their ideas to make the best album possible. There are also the designers, the stylists and all the people who help me and that I thank. We are releasing 3 video teasers this month about the album and a music video for the first single from the album.

The stylists that are doing a great job transforming your looks each time…

We try to mix the retro vintage look with a more modern and fashionable image that speaks to the days we live in.

What was the best piece of advice someone gave you.

My dad gave me the best advice and it is to stay humble and true to the people I work with.

Finally what’ you status on Facebook nowadays?

“I can dream about being Bugs Bunny, but when I wake up I am Daffy!”


Interviewed by Deborah Phares for Now Lebanon

Arabic version link:

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