With the perfect blend of professionalism, mind-heart connection, and honesty, art is produced. With this in mind, the art of Le Trio Joubran leads listeners to a unique experience of Middle Eastern music exploration, as on display last weekend at the Meervaart Theater in Amsterdam.
Samir, Wissam, and Adnan, three Palestinian brothers, were raised in a home full of Oud – a pear-shaped instrument made from wood and very similar to Lute – lovers. The brothers were saturated with a passion for music and have since traveled the world spreading love, peace, and art with a Palestinian taste.
We managed to interview Samir Joubran about their “Long March” in music since 1996 when Samir started working with Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine’s greatest poet. Darwish was described as a man of action, whose action was poetry. His prolific output of poetry books revolved mostly around Palestine, as he lived through the Nakba events of 1948.
Friendship then gathered Darwish and Samir, and so went Samir’s music following Darwish’s words. In turn, Le Trio Joubran were the first to create a new taste for poetry and music blended in one rhyme.
How did you make a hybrid style mixing music and poetry?
It has been thirteen years with Darwish. we introduced more than 32 poetry events. First I started alone before forming – Le Trio Joubran. Wissam joined after, and then Adnan. Mahmoud Darwish used to refuse to turn his poems into songs. So we settled for his voice reading poems with our music. After his death in 2008, we used his poetry recordings and made our own music/poetry technique. That’s how his voice will always remain.
Translating Mahmoud Darwish and collaborating with Roger Waters shows your inclination toward globalism. How do you see this change and what is the target behind it?
Our work with Roger Waters wasn’t planned. It came by chance. We met in New York and made two musical pieces together as he is a powerful supporter of the Palestinian cause.
About the poems, Mahmoud Darwish has always been international. His poems were translated into English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese. He used to have a huge audience in Europe, especially in France.
The news tells us about cooperation between you and Coldplay on their next album, Can you tell us what kind of cooperation this is?
Actually, we met Coldplay in Palestine. In the beginning, I didn’t know them as I am not a follower of pop music. They showed interest in our style, so I was curious about what grabs their attention to our music. After a couple of meetings, we knew they found spirit and style in our art. We made a song together – Arabesque. This collaboration can be defined as globalism but it wasn’t planned. Our Arabian print can be felt. No need for languages when you listen to music. Whether is is Roger Waters or Coldplay, we are Palestinian Arabs and this can be touched in our music even with Western artists.
7 years passed between “Asfar” and “The Long March”. Was this a preparation period? How did this period change you as it dropped in between the Arab revolution?
Good music doesn’t only need time to be made, but also meditation, study, and thought. Sometimes, artists need to rebel against music industry rules that push them into deadlines for albums, as if it’s a task or something. Good work needs time to be good and honest. It was also hard for us to focus only on music during the years of Arabian revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Libya. Many factors caused this gap between albums. Besides, Music deserves time to be beautiful.
“Carry the Earth,” the song you made with Roger Waters was about the tragic death of the Palestinian children on Gaza Beach. How did you decide to document this incident in a musical form years after? What did Roger think of it?
This incident was very touching. We tried to make a symbol out of it. It’s not ordinary to hear about innocent children playing on the beach where missile downed. Israel just apologized afterward! Just an apology for killing four children playing football and their dreams within. They threatened no one. They broke no rules or posed a source of danger. It’s not only about those kids but also it’s a symbol for all the Palestinians who get killed every day aimlessly.
You are producing Eastern music in Western countries to a Western audience, what is the feedback and reactions you receive after your concerts in Europe? How does the European audience react to Arabian music that is totally different, culturally?
Our music is not well known classical or traditional music. Even for Arabs, it is still new the idea of introducing three Ouds together in one concert. Each one has its own character and personality. We let our Ouds have conversations on the stage and express what we think of. We try to represent our culture in a beautiful new way. We make pure music, not written songs so that any listener can feel and touch our emotions and beliefs. This concept appears in our tracks’ names. We feel the music, name it as we feel, and leave space for the listener to be touched and have their own personal interaction with it.
You created a whole album based on one poem -The Speech of The Red Indian- many tracks in the album come from the poem’s words. What inspired you to think of this? Why did you choose this poem specifically?
Mahmoud Darwish made this poem as a simulation or analogy of the Red Indians’ speech he would give to the white conqueror, and our situation as the landowners of Palestine. We thought about it when Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. He gives himself the right to make cities capitals for countries. We didn’t actually choose names for the tracks. Each track held a meaning inspired by the poem’s words, and that’s how they were named.