7 Tidbits of Ala Ghawas
After releasing his first complete studio album, Armor, and his first music video, I decided it was time to delve a little bit deeper into the brain of jazz-rock musicianist, Ala Ghawas. A friendly sit-down over orange juice was a great way to start, and Ala is a very friendly and easy person to talk to, so it wasn’t easy to pick and choose tidbits out of everything I learned from him that day, but that’s the hard part of an interview.
1- The first instrument he learned: the accordion. He also plays the guitar, but that was actually the last instrument he learned. In between? The piano, the harmonica, and the melodica (which is basically a harmonica with a keyboard. How awesome does that instrument sound).
2- When he was in Boston in 2006-2007, Ala used to go to Harvard Square and just play his music on the streets. Besides the extra change (which would be great for karak, do they have karak in Boston?), this experience gave him the confidence he needed to share his musicianship publicly. He threw in some of his original tracks in between the covers, and people didn’t even realize they weren’t real songs by famous artists.
3- For the Raven video, which you should check out here, Ala worked with fifty fantastic ladies (from kids to adults)! It’s also his first ever music video. That’s two tidbits in one. I’m spoiling you.
4- Although it’s clear that Ala’s music is influenced by a wide array of artists from different genres, he notes that the ultimate figure in his music is Jackson Browne. Ala grew up listening to the classic rockers like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Browne introduced the idea of minimalism in writing music, musical self-expression through simple melodies and complex lyrics. It took studying Jackson Browne so closely for years for Ala Ghawas’s music to be where it is today.
5- Ala hired a string section from Los Angeles for four of his songs in Armor. Pay attention the next time you listen to Firewater, Bad Blood, Ashes, and Unarmored.
6- Artist to check out: Jeff Buckley. Although not an underrated artist, since his (only) album, Grace, received critical acclaim and popularity since its release in 1994, Ala recommends Grace as one of the key albums for you to listen to, at least once. Based on my own experience, he’s right. It’s an iconic album, not to mention that his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of the most well-known versions, often sung by Ala Ghawas himself during live performances.
7- How to describe his upcoming album: The Romantic Relationships Handbook. There’s no set release date for the album, since Ala is taking his sweet time writing the music, so I’ll leave it at that.
- Noor Nooruddin
October 19, 2014