Growing up in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Canada, Concordia hip-hop group The Euphrates Project bring a distinctively Middle-Eastern flavour to their music, but the group’s dark and political sound defies simple characterization. Performing this Thursday at the Pop Montreal Festival, the crew took time out to speak to The Concordian.
What’s in a name?
Concordian: How did you choose the name for the group? What about individual names? I’m especially curious about why you chose a name like Narcicyst?
Narcicyst: The Euphrates name was chosen due to the rivers name in Iraq. That river brought life and sustenance to that area for so long, and now that its drained and slowly losing its worth, we feel we want to bring that flow of life back to Iraqis.
The Narcicyst is because each MC is his own best friend and at the end of the day, he or she is talking about self. It’s also a commentary on how we seem to analyze everything internally instead of focusing on our binds as a whole species.
Habillis: As for my name, it stems from human evolution theory. The Homo habilis was the first of the human species to grasp objects and to use tools.
Nofy: Nofy Fannan is a play on the political world and the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Fannan means artist in Arabic.
All that (Arabic) Jazz
Concordian: What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up? (Nofy, I once heard that you were once a closet Metallica fan?)
Nofy: Haha! I’ve bumped Metallica before. I like all kinds of music. Growing up we were exposed to all the old Arabic singers and Middle Eastern jazz music, something I appreciate to this day…
Digging for samples, I’ve been getting into the old stuff, there is so much good music out there, no matter what label has been put on it.
Habillis: …I’ll listen to anything from Chopin to Fela Kuti to the Notorious B.I.G.
Narcicyst: Everything, from Um Koolthoom to Nirvana to Wu-tang. Music is music. Only thing I never dabbled in is country, Kenny G, John Tesh or anything of that sort (laughs).
Concordian: You emphasize the importance of being “a free thinker,” what does that mean to you?
Nofy: As a society, we are bombarded with all kinds of information, most of which is given out by certain people, governments, and corporations that are concerned with satisfying their own economic or political interests, not the people’s.
It is amazing to see at all the levels of society and consciousness these messages appear in. So we have to look at everything critically, especially today.
Concordian: In an interview with The Gazette you mentioned that your Canadian values could help bring dialog to the Middle East. What are those values?
Nacicyst: Peace, equality, understanding, wisdom, dialogue, humanism….Canada is love man.
Concordian: I’ve read that you have fans in Australia and Europe; do people listen to your music in the Middle East?
Narcicyst: Yeah, we have more of a following in all those place than here. But nothing has been released in the Middle East because of the censorship issues. It’s different out there man.
Concordian: Has Concordia (i.e. students, faculty) been supportive of your work?
Nofy: Big time. Everyone in the communications department, whether students or faculty has been very supportive and we’re thankful for that.
Narcicyst: …[CSU activist] Laith Maaroof has helped us a lot, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights always had our backs. The Concordia Student Union helped us with the album as well, so yeah, Concordia has been a great institution to spread the word.
Concordian: It’s rumored that you’ve been heard making music through the night in the communication department’s sound labs?
Nofy: You can still catch us in labs at all times of the night. We just can’t believe we’re given a studio where we can record and hone our skills.
Doing a major in communications has been a huge plus cause we not only learn new production techniques that we can apply to our music but also the theory classes help us because it enhances our communicative skills within our music.
Pop goes the weasel
Concordian: What can be expected from your performance at Pop Montreal?
Narcicyst: Just rawness man, we get open on mics. Come see some of the livest MC’s out of this city…Roll through and grab a drink, enjoy yourselves and listen to the music.
Euphrates Project will be performing this Thursday as part of the Pop Montreal Festival with Loe Pesci and Apokalyptik at Saphir 3699 St. Laurent St. Doors open at 9 p.m. Their album A Bend in the River is available at Off the Hook clothing store 1021 Ste. Catherine W. or you can order it off the website: www.euphrates.ca