Adonis is the latest band to grace the Lebanese music scene, after the successes of Meen and Mashrou3 Leila. After wanting to and not being able to go to a concert they had at Beirut’s new “it” place Dictateur, I wanted to know what Adonis was: what their sound resembled and if they were worth the hype that reached me through word of mouth. I only got exposed to their music today through their second music video, for the song “Ma Kan Mafroud,” which features Tina Yamout.
The band started last year when lead singer Anthony Khoury and a friend of his, Joey Abou Jawdeh, the band’s guitarist, got together and decided to put some music to Anthony’s lyrics. Soon enough, Anthony’s brother Fabio Khoury, the bassist, and his friend Nicola Hakim, the band’s drummer, and Vladimir Kurumilian on piano. Slowly things started happening for Adonis. They wrote more songs, met musicians with whom they collaborated and from whom they learned. Then they started recording and doing shows here and there. During 2011, their reputation started growing around Lebanon as they appeared in many festivals and had a music video out, as well as an album called “Daw el Baladiyyi.”
The inspiration of their name comes from the small town of Adonis in Mount Lebanon. For lead singer Anthony Khoury, the dullness of this town gave him inspiration for the songs that he wrote. Or as he describes it:
“I started finding magic in the smallest and most fleeting of details, like a street light under which I had my first kiss, or a rooftop on which my childhood friends and I used to hang out on hot summer nights, or a sidewalk or a water tank or or or…. These things and places became solid anchors around which stories, memories, characters are built and given life. The name Adonis evokes in our local imagery the small town as much as the myth, the dull as much as the magical. And it’s precisely in the flickering boundary between these two, the dull and the magical, the ordinary and the poetic, the common and the sacred, that our music is weaved.”
Their sound is very folky. It’s more Mashrou3 Leila than Meen but it’s quite dissimilar from Mashrou3 Leila as well. Lead singer Anthony Khoury describes their sound as one “based on lyrics. We shape our music around texts that generally deal with belonging and identity conflicts, in a sometimes light, sometimes darker and more nostalgic tone, [while] we stay away from direct social commentary and parody.”
And it shows. If anything, their song with Tina Yamout and the fusion they create reminds me of a folk American band I have come to appreciate very recently called The Civil Wars. That is without a doubt a compliment to the sound of this band because The Civil Wars are stunning.
Also, lucky readers, it so happens that I know one of the people who’s part of their most recent music video, for “Ma Kan Mafroud,” a song which deals with the theme of loss and the natural instinct to eventually move on.
The video was shot in one night in Sin El Fil and it tells the story of four characters: one that had a miscarriage, one that lost a sister, one that had her country stolen and one who lost a lover. Each one of those characters has a sad story and is seeking catharsis. This salvation will happen through their journey in the bus. The music video, directed by Robert Cremona, depicts the bus ride, where we find Tina Yamout and the band as omniscient narrators, to the backdrop of the characters as they express their grief and their desire to move forward with their lives.