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The Man Behind Omar Souleyman

Syrian singing sensation, Omar Souleyman is taking traditional Middle Eastern music internationally and is about become a hipster hero with his work with Electronic music legend Four Tet....

In a strange twist of fate, the music that haunts our nights, blaring loudly from feluccas and Corniche-side booths, with lyrics that usually go something like: LALLALALA LALLALA LALLALALALALALALA LALALLALALA, is now taking a big step into the international Indie music scene and festival line ups all thanks to Omar Souleyman. The Syrian artist, who paces the stage like a mafioso boss in a galabeya and ghotra, has around 500 studio and live recordings released under his name (80% of those releases are recordings made at weddings and presented to the married couple, which are later copied and sold at local kiosks). He then signed with Sublime Frequencies, an American world-music record label, headed by the now Egypt-based Alan Bishop of the Invisible Hands, and has since performed at some of the biggest underground clubs in London as well as the world famous Glastonbury Festival in 2011 where the crowd went absolutely crazy for his 1996 Syrian hit Leh Jani.

To them, it's the ultimate in hipster musical coolness; what could be more obscure, trendy and culturally different than this? We, being from the Middle East and westernised, immediately attach this type of music to being 'local' and uninspiring because frankly, aside from awkward revolutions, we've never been a particularly trendsetting region. It doesn't stop there though. Omar Souleyman is currently recording a studio album in Brooklyn, and who is the man behind Omar Soulymen now? None other than Kieren Hebden AKA FOUR TET, the legendary British Electronic producer.

So watch out, next time you head to a concert in Europe in your finest skinnies and snapbacks, you might very well encounter a wall of white people in ghotras, raging to some Dabka tunes...


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