Interview with Voice Of The Soul’s Kareem Chehayeb
So tell us about yourselves, how did the band came to be?
I used to write music with a couple of friends back home, and I really enjoyed writing my own material. I decided to try and start a band, despite the scene being so small and weak, as it still is. This was sometime in October 2007. We ended playing as a cover band for half a year or so, but then Monish (guitars) joined in August 2008, and we began to start writing originals. We released our first EP in summer 2009, and we just released our 3rd one last August.
You recently released “Into Oblivion” to positive reviews from Middle Eastern media. Tell us a bit about the album, do you feel you’re progressing as a band with each EP / release?
I definitely think that’s the case, fortunately. As a musician, it’s nice to see that we’ve been building up on the positives, but also being open to new things. It’s important to have an open ear, regardless of what genre of music you play. After all, Metal was the last genre of music I fell in love with. The album is probably our heaviest, but it’s also a continuation of our interest in melodic music. Each song is more or less unique, with Guardians of Genocide being this thrashy track with fast riffs and double bass everywhere, and Wither being an 11-minute doom influenced track. I think this release was definitely our most solid and most well-established, but now we have to see how our first full-length unfolds!
Did the band promote the release through live performances and merchandise sales, that of course knowing that the album is available on Bandcamp for optional free download …
We played a show in Dubai last January, and played a couple last summer before the release. We just released some new t-shirts which we are selling worldwide! Being a metal band is tricky, because the main way of promoting yourself is through music that is easily accesible and playing lots of live shows… and most of the income will come from merchandise, no doubt, but we’ve received some very generous donations from our Bandcamp. Availability of internet and easy ways of recording and promoting your music make playing shows more important than ever.
So you’re currently trying to earn an opening spot for Within Temptation’s upcoming show in Lebanon through Facebook … how’s that coming along?
I have no idea. Our management in Portugal, Avantegarde Management, sent the organizers an email, but I’ve been working on a Facebook and Twitter campaign to get that spot. I have no idea where things will go, but we’d love to have a show in Lebanon at one point or another. I really hope we can get some more people in Lebanon to join us in that campaign too. I appreciate the support we’ve had from LebMetal with this!
What can we expect from Voice Of The Soul in the future?
Well we’re working on a full-length right now. I don’t know when it will be ready, but we’re working on it! We just want to play as many shows as possible, and we’ve been focusing a lot on selling merchandise and keeping a strong presence on the internet. So, long story short, more music and hopefully more shows!
How was your live show experience in Dubai vs the one in Kuwait?
Kuwait has an incredibly small music community. Shows rarely ever happen… and when they do, it’s not Metal. There are some Rock bands in Kuwait that are able to establish themselves there, but I think they’re feeling the stress too. The good thing is that our small community means that musicians of any sub-genre of Rock and Metal support each other, which is something I don’t see in many other places. Dubai has a better scene, and all our shows that past couple of years have been there. There are many bands, and some good organizers who have shows going. Many of the shows are 21+ though which is frustrating for younger fans and supporters. I think many people there are too selective with the bands they want to support and what not…and I hope that changes, because that sort of attitude will lead to the downfall of a good music scene. Groups like Have You Scene That have been doing well to promote the UAE scene, though.
What are your thoughts on the Lebanese Metal scene after you spent time with the LebMetal members during this year’s GBOB competition heats/final?
Lebanon has lots of talented Rock and Metal bands, it’s unreal. I think there needs to be a bit of an attitude shift, which applies to many other Metal and Rock scenes in the region. Even though so many venues have been closing down, Lebanon still has it much better than most other countries. I think fans should support multiple bands, go to various venues, and not cause any form of musical-sectarianism … It seems like there are two smaller musical communities in one large one. There is so much potential which isn’t being tapped properly. I hope people keep supporting bands there, and attend shows that are in small or larger venues…Stop buying Slayer, Opeth, and Iron Maiden t-shirts and start buying Weeping Willow, Kimaera, and Blaakyum merch. Go see Detox play in Hamra and then go see Within Temptation or some other international act in Forum. Don’t be selective. Stay united, and keep supporting LebMetal and other media/organizers who put in lots of time to keep things going strong.