It’s A Music Lover’s Thing: An Interview With Rabih Beaini

Ahead of his performance at Outernational Days next week, Lebanese electronic musician and Morphine label head Rabih Beaini talks to Rory Gibb about the challenges and emerging possibilities of collaboration across countries and cultures

Photograph courtesy of Francisco Costa/ I Hate Flash

“For me, everything is like doing a DJ set,” declares Rabih Beaini of his all-channels-open, world-spanning approach to sound. “I’m selecting the tracks that can fit together and that can go into a narrative, and these ‘tracks’ can be groups, bands, musicians, label covers, or whatever curation I do on the label or in my own DJ sets”.

Accordingly, a sense of utopian possibility blossoms from Beaini’s work. His own compositions, his raw and freewheeling DJ sets and the broadening sonic imaginaries of his label Morphine bring diverse global sounds and traditions into a subtle communal dialogue — a space never lacking in friction (to which the delirious scree of noise and voices that regularly erupts from the system during his DJ sets can attest), but one that’s always underpinned by deep respect and a fascination with the possibilities of sound to imagine a better shared future. Unusually for an artist whose career began in techno and European club culture, central to Beaini’s project is focused, open-minded deep listening and the sharing of knowledge; a chracteristic encapsulated both by the title of his deeply strange, labyrinthine 2011 debut album What Have We Learned, and by his music’s evolutionary nature, which has shifted from early hallucinogenic techno as Ra.H and Morphosis, to scrambled folk forms drawing on the traditional musics of his home country of Lebanon (his 2013 album Albidaya) to his roaming, noise-scarring electronic improvisations of recent years.

Beaini’s label Morphine has been through a similarly expansive trip, beginning as a space for the astral club sounds that were central to his DJ sets under his former pseudonym of Morphosis, before broadening to encompass his band Upperground Orchestra’s thrumming electronics-infused jazz, the shattering work of Indonesian duo Senyawa, and music by fellow explorers and pioneers including Pauline Oliveros and Ione, Pierre Bastien, Sote, Jamal Moss and others. The last couple of years have seen a slowing of Beaini’s and Morphine’s recorded output, but he’s stayed busy with live performances, co-curating an edition of Berlin’s CTM festival (with the theme of New Geographies) in 2016, and collaborative work with artists including French filmmaker Vincent Moon and fellow Lebanese musicians such as Mazen Kerbaj and Raed Yassin.

Most recently, as he explains in this interview, he’s been travelling to various regions of the globe seeking new music and inspiration for the next phase of Morphine and his own compositional work. The Quietus caught up with Beaini over Skype from his home in Berlin ahead of the collaborative performance of his piece ‘Everything Is Visible Is Empty’ (with Raed Yassin, Mazen Kerbaj, Diana Miron and Bogdana Dima) at Outernational Days festival in Bucharest.

Hi Rabih, it’s been a while since we’ve spoken last. How are you?

Rabih Beaini: Good. Very interesting times on many levels. I can see things changing in the world and things changing in me as well. When you live in Europe, your [attention] is around you, and we had a period in Europe where things were pretty interesting, and I think now it’s drifted. So right now I’m not really interested in European or American electronic music any more, unless it’s really something interesting. My attention is more abroad now, and it’s good times for that. I’ve always had that a little bit; the path of the label [Morphine] was always changing from one place to another, and now it’s focusing on the outside. I was away for most of the winter on really interesting travels to different places, from here [Germany] to Brazil, and then Bahrain, and then Indonesia and Australia. I spent like four months on amazing projects, and it was probably the most intense period so far for me on that kind of thing. Now I’m feeling refreshed with new material, lots of ideas, lots of planning for the next year.

You’ve been busy in the last couple of years, but haven’t released very much music. Has this been a time of change and consolidation, then?

RB: Exactly, I wanted a little break for the label. The next release is going to be in early October, it’s a new Indonesian project that is really beautiful, followed hopefully by two or three other projects from Indonesia; so there’s going to be a series from Indonesia in one chunk. Then there’s going to be an amazing project of Brazilian rituals, together with Vincent Moon. He did this Híbridos project in Brazil, and we’re preparing a compilation of music on Morphine of selected music from the rituals that he filmed.

Those are ethnographic recordings?

RB: In a way, but it’s not about ethnography, it’s about… let’s call it ritualography. The focus is about religion in Brazil, which is probably the most powerful thing for that country together with football. When I was there I really got to dig into the material, the films [by Vincent Moon], and travel a bit in Rio and around it, and to São Paulo, and I kind of sensed what the country is on [the religious] side. It was mindblowing, because what happened throughout the years was that, in order to survive and keep attracting people, all of these [religious] practices had to harmonise with each other. So even Christian churches start rituals that are similar to the Afro-Brazilian or the Indigenous ones, or vice versa. There’s even some music I’ve been selecting for this compilation that has an incredible [similarity] between each other. It’s really beautiful stuff, they really go on an amazing level of creativity in order to keep things running. This is why they’re called híbridos: the whole phenomenon is a hybridisation of rituals and religions. That’s what we’re trying to represent with the series of films, installations, shows, and the compilation we’re putting out on Morphine. That’s still in the works, that’s going to be for early 2018.

What was the driver of this hybridisation? Historically, I know that during the introduction of Christian faiths into continents like Africa and South America with European colonisation, when they arrived in these areas they often merged with the traditional and indigenous spiritual practices to some degree.

RB: In my opinion — that’s only my opinion — I think it was that way around. Christianity was somehow placed there, and throughout the years forced into the people, and especially forced through the slavery phenomenon at the time. This was in all South America; so even in Cuba or Colombia, there’s Santería or Candomblé or the Yoruba phenomenon, where they’re Christians but still praise the Orishas, which are the gods from the Yoruba religion from Nigeria. This also happened in Brazil, and in a way it came back throughout the years to become more and more marked as a cultural thing. But in order to survive it had to include some [Christian aspects], the Christian churches are almost a private institution in Brazil. There are so many branches and different sides of Catholicism and different sides of the church that are almost schools, and communities where people go and spend time and become part of this. They have their own ways of dressing and the main saints, but then [other practices too], for example the Santo Daime are Christians that take ayahuasca. So it’s really very connected and it can sound confusing, but it’s not, it’s really natural and beautiful. So there’s the culture of the sounds, the hymns, that is present in all these religions. These songs are almost taken from one side to another, changed, replayed, it’s really amazing. Vincent did a three and a half year project on that, maybe 250 films, it’s a huge project.

I’ve also noticed that this is a phenomenon that happens almost everywhere in countries with a strong religious background, but with strong [Indigenous] roots. In Brazil the Indigenous community is really powerful — the Amazon is full of tribes and cities and towns that are Indigenous and that have their own religions, their own shamans or whatever — so it’s really strong over there. But in other countries, say South-East Asia where Islam is the main religion, it’s not as free in a way, but the same thing happened. I’ve been studying this as well, and it’s interesting to see how ancient rituals and religious practices were merged into Islamic things that kept them surviving. And through all this, I’m discovering really interesting music as well: contemporary stuff that is happening now, and is opening a lot of possibilities to hear something interesting that hasn’t been recorded before, and is not necessarily known by people, but is amazing and crucial to present.

So that’s basically my work [at the moment]. My work is on individuals that develop something out of these [traditional elements], that want to change them. The main crucial point for me is that, coming from a country where traditions over time changed and died, I saw how these things happen: cultural stuff completely died in front of me and my generation. I’m seeing this happen in many places in the world.

What kind of cultural things are you referring to?

RB: Genres of music, or types of instruments, or even a kind of bread that was made until twenty years ago and no-one does it any more because it’s very difficult as a process. This kind of thing is inevitable, and I understand that, and at some point you have to let go a bit: accepting the reality we’re living in, and giving the chance for things to change. What we can do is follow up on these changes and make them become more stable, more conscious. I’ll give you an example. Whenever I’m Indonesia, these two trips I’ve done to that country — and I’ll mention Indonesia a lot, because for me now it’s a central focus point — I know through people I’ve met there that a lot of music practices are dying there. This happened throughout the centuries, but it’s happening more quickly now because the new generations are not that interested in the traditions, because of technology. Rightfully, kids have iPhones and Samsungs, and they check YouTube and listen to Kanye West or Lady Gaga, and they’re not interested in what’s happening in their own town. This is hurtful in a way, but we have to acknowledge that it’s their right. [My path to Indonesian music] was through technology, because of YouTube, and so why shouldn’t technology bring those young people to [European] electronic music, to pop music, to whatever they want to do? It’s very sad that I know about three or four genres that are mindblowing but that will not exist in the very near future, because those doing it now are 80 or 90 years old, and nobody took over. But I feel blessed that I witnessed this at least.

The next album that is coming out — this Tarawangsa thing — it’s one of these. It’s not a genre that is dying, but the main musician from there told me that the young musicians are more interested in keyboards or whatever, rather than learning the [traditional] instrument. This is a very simple string instrument, but it’s locked within 42 compositions, pieces, that cannot be changed, and at some point [the younger people] get bored of it. I went to the rituals and there was very few young people there, it was very old people in that room and participating. These two young guys, Tarawangsawelas, they learned the instrument like many other people. But their desire is to take it and go from there, to break the rules of the rituals of the 42 songs, and develop it into something contemporary that can represent them as students of the university, having studied gamelan compositions, classical and contemporary music. They want to go in that direction, so my work with them was guiding them in that transition, with loopers, pedals, and processing their sound live. It was also an exercise for me, I’ve never done that before. This hybridisation of the instrument, without making it become too different or diverse, keeping the spiritual side of it but making it develop in a different way.

My fear was the reaction of the community about that; we’re talking about only one village. It’s only in Sunda, it’s a very specific music for a region. But talking to people, and to the master, he said that it would be amazing if someone in Europe hears Tarawangsa.

There are ways of approaching that kind of international collaborative work sensitively. I’m thinking of the subtlety of the relationship between Mark Ernestus and the Senegalese players in Ndagga Rhythm Force, for example.

RB: That’s a very good example of how that can be framed. It’s happening in a lot of places. There has been a lot of fusion of genres, but unlike in the past it’s now real hybridisation, which is totally different from fusion. It’s not western musicians playing with, let’s say, an Asian musician, and making this fusion of genres. It’s people learning one from the other, and extracting pieces and putting them together. This is what I call decomposition — of everything from my mentality to their mentality. Deconstruction and putting pieces back together in order to create something new. That’s the only way, in my opinion, that these [musics] can thrive and survive and become global, in a conscious way. Stealing music has always happened, exploitation is a very old phenomenon, but creating a platform for new things to happen — this is the recent phenomenon happening right now.

The Ndagga Rhythm Force project has made me dwell on this, in that one of the historical and ongoing challenges of contemporary ‘world music’, or ethnographic and anthropological work more broadly, is that there are always issues around representation and exploitation. Much of the time the gaze is Eurocentric and there are many ways of risking being exploitative. I thought a lot about Ndagga Rhythm Force for a while because I was trying to figure out how I felt about the relationship and power dynamic in that music, because it’s still presented as “Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force”. It was seeing them play live that cemented for me what it was and the openness of that relationship.

RB: Absolutely. This was my first comment to Mark when I heard the very early recordings that he did in Senegal. I was like, ok, this is Mark Ernestus, German guy, going to Senegal and bringing music from there, and so I first told him, don’t do it in that way, you know. Don’t appear as though you’re exploiting them. Because as much as I’m from Lebanon, I still consider myself on a whiter shade in the global context, and I still am very aware of this position even if I’m not European or American. And in his position it’s much more difficult. He could have done many things with that music, but he kept it in its own context, he just helped package it for the stage. What I love most about that project is that Mark is an insane musician and sound engineer, but still he’s not onstage with them, not even on the mixer. He’s behind, in the shadows. When I saw the project [live] for the first time years ago, I was really happy about the result, because I saw his take on it.

This is becoming a bit of a delicate thing for me. I’m in a learning process now about how to deal with these things. We really never stop learning, because cases are different from one to another. The project with Tarawangsawelas was born because we’ve been asked to tour in Belgium together, and we’re also planning a show in Berlin. That’s probably the only time that I will be onstage with them to process the music. My work is to give them my [knowledge], so they can do it at the same time as playing their instruments, so they can process their own sounds the way I can do it, so they can be independent and develop it from there. Imagine the possibilities that these two guys are having from this record, from this tour. I’m getting messages from them about how the community is reacting to it. Of course, many people are kind of jealous in a way that these guys are making it, but the reaction over there is actually kind of ‘Ah, ok, if they made it, then I can make it’. That’s the exact transformation I’m interested in now.

Another aspect of this connectivity has of course been the emergence in the European consciousness of many new beat-driven genres from around the world, which themselves are products of internet-driven cultural cross-pollination.

RB: The interesting thing about it is that it’s happening in a mirror way from the other side. The internet isn’t a one way thing. We’re not only exploring them — they are exploring us. That’s the interesting thing. When I travel to places that I would never think someone knows my music — the first time I went to Indonesia I was in Bandung, and I was asked to join friends of mine to do an audiovisual performance. There was this guy who came in and said ‘I came because I heard you were performing here, I would never have imagined you playing in Bandung’. So we are under investigation as well. Somehow it’s like a bouncing ball. With Senyawa on Morphine, many people in Indonesia were like “oh wow Senyawa, they’re on this label Morphine, what’s that and who is the guy producing them?” One other band from Indonesia who are amazing is Karinding Attack. They knew about me from recently because of Senyawa; they [similarly] come from metal and use only bamboo instruments, insane stuff, it’s amazing.

Was Senyawa a turning point for Morphine? In the sense that you were connecting with the communities in Indonesia, and also there was then this period after the Senyawa album when the label’s remit seemed to really broaden.

RB: Absolutely. But of course, for me Senyawa is one of the most interesting things I’ve heard so far. The phenomenon of taking total control of the music that is coming from a remote area in a country that we don’t really know much about, and bringing something completely theirs and putting it in our face. No accommodation. There’s nothing familiar for us in what they do. Everything is completely new and odd, to the point that it’s almost uncomfortable the first time you hear it. This is why I like it. This opened hopes in me to find more, and learn more, and give more to other people to learn from. The common thing happening over there with the people I’m working with is, [similarly] to how Senyawa did, they want to give their own imprint to what’s happening and not a collage or modernisation of things.

You’ve shifted mostly away from European electronic music and techno, and stopped using the name Morphosis as well. Did you just find that style of music wasn’t giving you what you were looking for anymore?

RB: I think I’m just in a learning phase, I can only say that. I never lost interest in electronic music or Western music, I definitely haven’t. I think I’m in an excitement and learning process right now. There were thousands of really interesting tracks from Lebanon that I’ve known from my childhood, or stuff that is really underground that I dig, and one track ended up gathering seriously my interests and it was [Rene Bandaly Family’s track, remixed by Beaini in 2008] ‘Tanki Tanki’. Because it was really that thing that I wanted to be interested in: a way of presenting it to the Western world that I’m operating in. This [release] happened almost ten years ago, so now that you ask me this, I realise it’s not just a shift that is happening right now. For me everything is like doing a DJ set. I’m selecting the tracks that can fit together and that can go into a narrative, and these ‘tracks’ can be groups, bands, musicians, label covers, or whatever curation I do on the label or in my own DJ sets. So there’s no abandonment — everything I love I will always love, that’s for sure.

One thing I remember taking away from a previous conversation with you was that it was always ultimately about learning, about knowledge.

RB: Until the last day. We never stop learning. For me, the range of sound, and the range of production in Western music, and even in traditional music around the world, has reached a level of saturation. I think we’ve done everything that can be done in music advancement, I really believe that. I think that point was reached with the end of the ’90s. There’s been nothing new [sonically] happening since then.

Does that mean you feel that nothing new could ever happen?

RB: No, I’m not closing the argument like this. You reach a wall, and everything has been done. Music from Matmos, to drum ‘n’ bass, to any digitally-based music, was the last frontier. All these new controllers, the glitches, the micro sounds, the granular sounds, happened in the ’90s. The range of sound, that was it. Everything we use today, even the most advanced technology, has been somewhat made [already], even since the ’60s with musique concrète. So we’re not discovering anything new. What we are doing is going backwards and looking at it from a different perspective. Going, ok, so this thing has been happening for five hundred years in the Arabian peninsula, or in Brazil, or in Argentina: how did this thing become a wall of noise, a new energy? I’m not saying there’s no good music; I’m saying that all we’re doing is going back and looking at [existing sound possibilities] from a different perspective and doing it again with a new energy. That’s the learning process. Years ago I was worried this wouldn’t happen anymore, and now I’m really happy that it’s actually [more extensive] than I would have ever expected. The interesting times we are talking about now are bigger, and even more interesting and exciting than I expected.

On the subject of Lebanese music, you played that fantastic evening of Lebanese records at Cafe Oto a couple of years back, which was a real gateway for me to a lot of those artists. It made curious about what your relationship is to Lebanese music, especially now having lived out of the country for a long time.

RB: Of course it’s the country where I come from and we have this familiarity with the sounds and nostalgia for our own music, and I totally love it, especially the more traditional side of it. Lebanon and the whole Arabic world in my opinion is having a really interesting moment as well, joining this phenomenon we’ve been talking about. Besides the individual projects or explorations that people are doing, generally it is a really good moment for the Arabic scene. Same thing: they’re exploring, they’re changing, hybridisation is happening also over there. I love what’s happening right now, there are plenty of really interesting musicians, label owners, festival curators that are doing an amazing job.

There’s also a couple of contemporary players you’ve been playing with recently, for example at CTM and this upcoming Outernational performance. Some of the people from [Lebanese improvisation festival] Irtijal and organisations like that.

RB: Yes, they are the founders and people that run Irtijal. Sharif Sehnaoui played at the CTM opening, but is not going to be at the Outernational Days festival. Only one of the musicians that was at the CTM opening is going to be there, which is Mazen Kerbaj, the trumpet player.

There’s an incredible recording of Mazen Kerbaj’s I discovered while roaming the internet a couple of years ago, called ‘Starry Night’.

RB: The one with the bombs?

Yeah, the recording of him playing the trumpet while the bombs were falling in Beirut, which is a really powerful recording and sound artefact.

RB: It’s really important, even people like Pauline Oliveros, people on that level, were praising Mazen for his capacity of demonstration. He’s one of the most powerful artists in my country by far. He developed his own way of doing things. His approach to exploitation that is happening, especially with Lebanon and the Lebanese war, is pretty unique. It takes the narrative of the Lebanese war and develops his own project, but almost as a way to gather attention. This is pretty natural and normal, for example [Matteo Garrone’s 2008 film] Gomorrah that has a huge success for Naples is exploiting the phenomenon of the Camorra. So we’re not talking about something new, but what he did was to actually become part of the whole narrative itself. [He didn’t] put it next to him in order to create something, he became part of the narrative in that job. It’s a pretty unique way to approach the Lebanese war narrative. [There are also] plenty of recordings of him playing that you find on YouTube, and there’s even a duo we did recently in Milan, which is a piece called ‘Multiplied’, we did it twice so far. It’s about me multiplying his sounds, he plays the trumpet and I process it on multi-channel.

In Bucharest for Outernational Days it’s going to be something related to the opening of CTM, because we have Mazen there for the concert, and hopefully there will be more of these. It’s my approach now to this composition work, in a way I want to put my own wild and unpredictable ways into composition. So we’ll see what will come out; the CTM one was pretty wild, pretty amazing for me. [For Outernational we’re also working with] Raed Yassin, another acclaimed artist, a visual artist as well as a musician. He has a project Praed which is him and a clarinet player, they are a decomposition of Arabic music, making them become a collage of sounds and wildness, it’s amazing.

I wanted to return briefly to talking about Vincent Moon; you’ve recently done some collaborative work with him, including a collage, ‘mixtape’-like film made up of several of his films of traditional music from around the world. How did that come about, and what attracted you to what he’s doing?

RB: Besides the fact that I consider him one of my favourite cinematographers nowadays, and besides all the respect for him and his work, this project came out almost as a dedication. We had already done an installation together at CTM, I curated the sound part for him and it was something similar. This generated the sense that I could play seven of his films in a show in Barcelona, that his films could be mixed together as if they were records. Even the images can be processed digitally and mixed together, that’s a pretty interesting thing for me. People sometimes take it as [being] ethnography, white guy travelling, playing rituals… but [this process] is a ritual by itself. It’s a Western ritual, I call it a digital ritual — being on a computer, decomposing these films and musics and bringing them together, bringing something new out of it. For me it’s a ritualistic process as well.

There are lots of new artworks emerging in this kind of ambiguous area, which many people are trying to understand how to think and talk about. In a practical sense, when working with this kind of material, how do issues of properly representing and crediting the work of these traditional musicians express themselves in your compositional practice? How do you balance your creative work with the material itself, while keeping in mind your responsibilities to the people that are depicted in it?

RB: There’s two sides to this question. Let’s call them the technical side or the artistic choices that stand behind it, and also the respectful approach to those musicians that appear in the film. I would simply put it in a very rough and raw way. If we want to consider these things, I would first of all [think] about an aspect that is pretty common and that we never consider nowadays, but 20 years ago it was considerable. In Italy, every DJ set had to have the copyright paid, you had to say which pieces you played and to pay the copyright for each piece. Are we doing that? If we want to think about it in this way, all these mixes on Soundcloud, I would call them exploitation. Every DJ that makes a mix and puts it online using one of my tracks has to acknowledge me properly for my music, because he is promoting himself through my music.

But he can [also] argue, ‘No, but I am promoting you through my DJ set.’ If that’s true, then I am, in a very tiny, almost infinitely small way, promoting a brotherhood of trance in Chechnya, of Sufism, and then people are starting to look at them. Of course it’s Vincent’s work, but me, for my approach to these films that I’m mixing — probably one guy on one side of the world will Google one name from that film, and for me it’s the same thing. I know about music genres on YouTube, that had 20 views that became 20,000 because Vincent Moon filmed something similar, or went to that place, or mentioned someone that was there. So I think what we should consider is, yes, respect to the musicians if they want to be not touched, not published, we want to keep this secret. [For example] there is one piece on the Híbridos compilation that we probably won’t be able to put there because it’s a funeral, and it’s one of the five best pieces on there. If they say no, then of course we won’t put it out.

So to give you a small example, I was in Indonesia at this local festival, with people making wild music and everything. At some point I was filming with my iPhone, and there was this guy looking at me; he doesn’t speak English, and I was like, ‘is this ok?’, and he pointed at me and said ‘YouTube’. There is a certain level of pride and opportunity that is played in these things. People [often] don’t have the channels to promote themselves. I think we’re too careful, because of the years and centuries of exploitation that we were talking about earlier. We don’t have to feel guilty if we are doing this, unless we are ripping the music, putting it on a record, signing the record ourselves, putting it out, selling copies and touring the record as if it’s ours without even mentioning the musicians. This is the exploitation that happened so far. That was a huge phenomenon and it was horrible, people sampling from records or bringing musicians into the studio and never mentioning them on the records.

I played Tarawangsa — it’s the sacred music of Sunda, it’s extremely sacred, they go into a trance and they connect with the invisible, the spirits — I played it at Wax Treatment in Berlin, on the Killasan [sound system]. Everyone was dancing almost the same as they dance in Indonesia at the ritual, it’s a freeform dance but it’s very ecstatic. For the first time in my life I did a video from the DJ booth, because I wanted [the people in Indonesia] to see it. I was worried people might be horrified seeing this wall of sound and and crazy-looking people dancing. He was like, man, they were so proud, they were amazed, and they wouldn’t believe this was happening in Berlin. I will always justify what I am doing, what Vincent and many other people are doing, with these arguments. Me, it’s an emotional thing, and the day I will become rich out of exploiting this music, people can come and tell me. It’s a really small economic gap between what they’re doing and what we are doing. If we were getting loads of money doing a show, it would be a huge gap. It’s almost balanced in the economy of the country.

My last question relates to what we’ve already been talking about, in that the world has become a much messier and weirder place in the years since the last time I interviewed you, things feel more fraught and confusing than they did back then. But there’s also in parallel been this emergence of the internet as a space for sharing music, and the rise in the Western experimental music world of festivals like Unsound or CTM, which are trying to find ways to present this music in useful or interesting ways. I’m interested in what you think experimental sound and music broadly, and also these kinds of spaces, are achieving — socially, and in terms of being able to facilitate communication between people. Because what you’re doing seems to be all about communication, really.

RB: It’s doing a lot. In my opinion, every festival should be doing this: being curated with consciousness. I cannot blame the other festivals, because there’s two sides to the story. All these things we’re talking about, at the end of the day, they are recreation. Some people take it seriously and it becomes a reason for life; there are people that make a tattoo of Drexciya’s logo on their body and this is something you can’t delete. This is of course remarkable. But we cannot deny that there’s another range of people that just want to have fun, that don’t want to know the story and who’s curating. The two things are valid, as a right for every individual.

Of course, so when we start talking about how the conscious side is becoming more tangible and active and important in our everyday society, it’s really important, even if it’s on a small scale. At the end of the day, we’re talking about festivals and groups of people that are mostly the active ones in the music world. Most of the people that go to [festivals like CTM or Unsound] are actually producers, DJs, artists themselves. So we’re talking about the top of the pyramid, here in this small community that we can call the conscious musician scene in Europe. So if this top of the pyramid starts becoming more aware of gender equality, racism, exploitation, and all the changes that are happening in our countries and places in the world, this will slowly be transferred to the lower part of the pyramid, which is the broader crowd. There is a lot of work to be done, but this change and awareness has been happening really recently. This is thanks to people that are so radical — I didn’t think it was really necessary to be so radical, but now I think it’s necessary. Even if I don’t agree 100% with their thoughts and ideals, I think they are necessary. This is really important, because this is what we’ll remember on the day that things change, and things haven’t changed yet. I started this conversation with it’s an interesting time, and not only for the music. It’s interesting times because [broader sociopolitical] change is happening.

Rabih Beaini performs the piece ‘Everything Is Visible Is Empty’ with Raed Yassin, Mazen Kerbaj, Diana Miron and Bogdana Dima, at the Outernational Days festival in Bucharest on Saturday 8th July

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