What it's like being an independent musician in Bahrain
A career in music would rarely be a first thought when it comes to career options for a lot recent graduates. But many of the independent and up and coming musicians in Bahrain are breaking the mold and exploring the professional aspects of music.
Hamad Ebrahim, a Web Media graduate from Bahrain Polytechnic, is trying to do just that. Hamad is an independent musician, creating and recording his music for several years now, specifically Metal and Electronic music. We chatted with Hamad to learn about his experience an indie musician in Bahrain and his many projects.
What’s your journey starting out in music been like so far?
I used to play guitar for a really long time, I started when I was about 13 or 14. But I started to get serious about it when I was around 18. I started with recording myself on a laptop with horrible mics, I’ve got better equipment as the years progressed. I have had zero professional training or any musical theory. I would’ve loved to be trained but I’ve not yet felt the need to, I mostly learn by listening and practicing by myself. With time I’ve also witnessed the growth I’ve gone through, especially looking back at some of my previous work and how that’s evolved.
Most of my inspiration comes from everyday things like day to day interactions, video games, movies, TV shows, and anime. I want to make music that I enjoy listening to. For me the music writing process is basically me sitting in front of the computer, playing stuff until I get to something I like and then I record.
I started putting out videos of myself playing on social media and built a sort of a presence. As of yet, I’ve released one full length album, Behemyth, which is available online and 2 EPs.
Being a Web Media graduate, how much of what you do is related to your music ventures?
There is some interconnection when it comes to working on music production and web media, but not as much as I’d like. I do video and audio production work as well. I’m still trying to figure out how to turn my passion for music into a career, it would be amazing if I could do that for a living and nothing else.
I would like to be able to help Bahraini musicians produce their music, and provide services like audio mixing and mastering. I myself never got the chance to get my music recorded professionally when I was growing up. So, I would love to create a space to help other musicians create and record their music and get the sound that’s in their heads across to listeners.
What is the music scene in Bahrain like? Do you think there is a market for local musicians?
For people looking to start out, there are a lot places to learn music like the Bahrain Music Institute or places like Room2Rock, that provide equipment, training and recording services. We also have music production studios like Studio77, Jam Room, Soundman that produce music locally.
When it comes to playing gigs, the music scene in Bahrain is quite limited to certain venues and events. You have to be very flexible with the kind of music you play. Most of the musicians I know, who make money through what they do, either play at pubs, lounges, or events.
A lot popular Bahraini artists and bands have recently put out their albums and they can be found everywhere around Bahrain, so there definitely is a market, but it is still quite a niche market.
What are some of the upcoming things we could hope to see from you?
I have two projects that I‘m currently working on, the first is an Electronic/Experimental project, FENRUR and the other is Progressive Metal, 7MND. I also have another electronic music project I’m working on with a friend. I’m also working on my second progressive metal album; it includes a couple of collaborations with other artists as well. I’m working with a friend on a project that showcases Bahraini musicians in form of video performances. It is still in the planning phases.
What would you say to someone considering to pursue music professionally or semi-professionally in Bahrain?
You’d have to work very very very hard and push yourself out of their comfort zone and play to different audiences and not just limit yourself to Bahrain. Social media can also provide a huge platform. If you have good content and market it well, people would flock to you. There are also platforms like MidEast Tunes, which is actually founded by a fellow Bahraini, that provide independent musicians with a platform to showcase their work. Making money through music may not be as easy, so it has to be passion project. There definitely is scope for upcoming musicians but it is still quite untapped.
Photo By: Abdullah Minhas