Berlin to Beirut, Lebanese musician finds inspiration worldwide

Lebanese DJ, guitarist, lyricist and music producer Gurumiran combines various music styles such as jazz guitar with electronic overtones

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Lebanese DJ, guitarist, lyricist and music producer Gurumiran - whose real name is Miran Gurunian - gave Al Arabiya News an insight into his life as a musician and the imminent release of his first solo album “Aberrance.” Inspired by Berlin and Beirut, Gurumiran combines various music styles such as jazz guitar with electronic overtones. He is working on the music video for his forthcoming track “Waterfall.”

What got you into the music scene?

My parents used to be amateur musicians, and I was always surrounded as a kid by their friends who were professional musicians performing in pubs and restaurants. This is how I first started playing drums, then switched to guitar at the age of 12-13. From there, getting into the music scene was the natural aftermath.

What is the story behind your artist name?

As a teenager in high school, I had a professor who used to call me Guru, in reference to my surname Gurunian. Later on, when I was recording “Blend,” our producer Philip Tohme humorously suggested using Gurumiran as an alias. When I did my first solo album “Aberrance,” I adopted Gurumiran. As opposed to using my first and last names, Gurumiran helps me approach this musical adventure in a less personal way.

Which artists have you worked with?

2003: Tania Saleh - self-titled debut (guitarist)
2003: Blend - “Act One” (producer, songwriter and guitarist)
2009: Eileen Khatchadourian - “Midan” (producer, songwriter and guitarist)
2013: Tania Saleh - “Wehde” (songwriter and guitarist)
2014: Pindoll - “Twisted Times” (producer, songwriter and guitarist)

How would you describe your music?

It’s a mixture of my influences, including jazz, rock and electro, processed electric guitars being the element around which I build my songs. There’s no specific genre or label that I like to abide by in describing the music I make. I leave it to the listeners to feel what they may.

Who are your influences?

My main musical influences were John Grant, David Bowie, Grant Green, Thom Yorke, St Vincent, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode. Also, the time I spent in Berlin during the last five years has been influential in conceiving the album.

Books such as David Byrne’s “How Music Works,” Grant Green’s and Django Reinhardt’s biographies, Miles Davis’s autobiography, “A Brief History of New Music”, “No Such Thing as Silence,” to name a few.

Has living in the Middle East influenced your music?

The region’s social, political and economic models are a major lyrical influence. Also, my friendship and collaborations with local and regional artists shaped the way I play guitar and write music. Notably, the late Imane el-Homsy’s qanun technique and phrasing were a major influence. “Aberrance” is in memory of Imane.

Tell us about your new album “Aberrance”?

On “Aberrance” I’m singing for the first time, and writing lyrics. The soundscape is mainly electronic, as opposed to the acoustic feel in my previous projects. The songwriting approach is also different as I’m the sole songwriter on the album. It’s also the first time I work with new musicians and producers (Fadi Tabbal and Carl Ferneiné).

What is the biggest risk you have taken musically?

The biggest risk was in May 2014 when I decided to stop doing music after almost 25 years. It worked until October, when I picked up the guitar and wrote “Dreamer,” the first track on “Aberrance.”

Have there been any obstacles or challenges making music in the Middle East?

Each region and country has its own set of obstacles and challenges. I believe the major challenge for a musician from the Middle East is to move abroad to Europe and beyond to present his or her music.

How has the music scene developed in Beirut over the years?

The last decade saw an abundance of local talents, mainly due to the internet and computers I believe. YouTube, iTunes etc made it easier for musicians to learn music, produce, sell and market themselves.

What do you wish to see change in the Middle Eastern music Industry?

A reduction in music piracy, and institutionalized music-publishing rights for musicians.

Where can the public listen to your music?

Online (SoundCloud, YouTube etc), or they can check upcoming performances on my website www.gurumiran.com and Facebook pages.

What upcoming projects are you partaking in?

Apart from releasing the music video for the single “Waterfall” - along with remixes by Liliane Chelala, Diamond Setter and TGV - I’ll be touring the Middle East (Dubai, Cairo, Jordan), along with performances in Europe and New York this year. I’ll be returning to Beirut in December to perform and launch the vinyl edition of “Aberrance.” Also, I’m finishing Pindoll’s second album for a release in 2016.

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