We are delighted that our long-time friend and collaborator, Joe Tawadros, will join us on stage for the upcoming tours of The Four Seasons. He will be performing selections from his latest album (which also scored him his third ARIA Award) –Permission to Evaporate. Below, Joe describes the inspiration for this breathtaking album.
The last couple of years have been turbulent. 2012 saw the passing of my beautiful Mother Rose and 2013 the passing of my Father Nabil, a wonderful character and storyteller. It is not easy losing anyone, let alone two very inspiring and encouraging figures in the space of a year.
Life changes overnight. Nothing seems to be the same and just as I started to grieve for one, life decided to strike another blow. I woke up a different human with a changed outlook, fighting demons while undertaking day to day interactions. Celebrations, feasts and gatherings with friends or family lost flavour, and the world became tasteless.
There was an air of constant anger fused with disbelief and there was no ‘one’ emotion at any given moment, rather a barrage of feelings all flooding at once.
Most of the time, I found my mind wandering into space. ‘Happy’ moments or milestones accepted with a forced smile, a natural coping mechanism as reflex, fooling the state of numbness I regularly found myself in.
My 29th birthday, just after my Mother’s passing, felt empty while my 30th birthday milestone last October (2013), so close to my Father’s passing, came with detachment of mind and body, making me oblivious to the world around me.
I remember sitting alone under an old frangipani tree with a beautiful breeze caressing my face, the sweet scent of flowers lightly in the air, wishing that I would join the waft, disappear with it and evaporate into nothingness.
At times like this the Oud is my refuge, my comfort and true friend, and although it is already a very big part of my everyday life, it is also a metaphysical outlet and healer, a link between my reality and my aspirations.
Its charismatic sound reminds me of my parents, my Father’s voice in the Bass and Mother’s in the Treble.
A time machine transporting me back to them regularly, sharing our beautiful times once again and indulging my nostalgia. An instrument of appreciation, grateful for what they encouraged and the gift they helped nurture. So, I honour them every time I pick up my instrument and awaken them every time a string is plucked.
After the release of my last album Chameleons of the White Shadow (2013), I was in a state of flux and confusion. I was very proud of that album, but wanted my next one to be something beyond special and more unique, a step up in a different direction. It was a constant struggle to come up with a new concept and even harder to find the motivation to compose and record it.
I’ve always tried to push the Oud into new territory, not just for the sake of it, but because I am genuinely passionate about doing so. And although I love traditional Oud playing and the repertoire associated with it, I feel there is room for growth and still much to discover.
I’m in a state of tireless exploration, restless in my pursuit and dedicated to the cause, using the plectrum as my compass and the fingerboard as my map to new and wonderful musical worlds.
The Oud is not ‘ethnic’. It is not ‘Arabic’. It is not a broken guitar or a funny looking banjo but rather an instrument that holds its own and has something to say in any musical or emotional context.
This album is about music in a range of diverse voices, compounding all that I’ve learnt in my first 30 years on this planet and converting those experiences to sound – a compositional diary if you will.
I wanted to create music which was fresh, fun, non-contrived and organic, which flowed naturally, drawing upon influences of bluegrass, jazz, classical, baroque, blues, flamenco, gypsy, Middle Eastern, rock and even heavy metal music. Being careful not to hijack any of those genres, while maintaining the Oud’s strong timbral integrity and avoiding cliché.
On this album, the Oud walks down many paths and plays both a supportive role as well as a soloistic one, always serving the journey of the compositions up until its final cadence.
It’s not about creating sad music, but about covering a wide range of emotions in truth and intention.
I think of my parents, and my brothers and sister. I think of the world. I think of innocence, of friends and others who have lost loved ones. I think of an embrace, a simple gesture of kindness, a comforting kiss. The stars, the moon, the sun, the changing of the seasons running hand in hand with compassion and love.
It is perhaps a type of melancholy drunk in celebration, but there is also victory here. Life will inevitably keep throwing the unexpected and we must never give up and continue to persevere, albeit with wound in heart, but with hope always in hand. We are healing …