Seek originality in the composition, production and performance of your music.
There’s a new addition to the list of live music lounges and restaurants in Dubai, bringing together Latin, World and Arabic fusion music: Muze in Downtown Dubai is a sparkling spot with a theatrical setting serving up exotic Latin cocktails, and amongst others, a well known Cuban band called
Sons Son De Verdad.
Rouba, a Lebanese singer-songwriter who has performed live again at landmarks such as Music Hall Dubai and Beirut, Jazz Lounge, Blue Note, Bar Louis, SNATCH and Bourbon Street in Amsterdam, is the latest addition to their eclectic line-up.
We caught up with Rouba to get a glimpse of her musical background, inspirations and life:
1. Tell us the story of how you started out and got here.
I started singing when I was five. Growing up with this passion for singing made music such a huge part of my identity. I played together with my first band for several years, before I was introduced to Ziad Rahbani – one of the most notable jazz musicians and composers in the Middle East and son of Fayrouz – That’s when I entered the world of Jazz.
After college, a job seemed to be the best way to make a living and so I hopped on that train like everyone else. After 8 years, I started singing again – covers mostly – until a very close friend challenged me to write my own material. That was our first album with Joe Kennedy.
I’ve been doing concerts and events with original work for a few years now. I then met the Crystal Group team who was getting ready to launch MUZE and after a few weeks of exploration, we decided to start a soul and jazz night together. With some of our favourite songs and the best musicians in town, here we are!
Nina Simone, Micheal Jackson & Bob Marley.
– Rouba’s three biggest musical inspirations.
2. How do you go about composition? Give us an insight into your creative process.
I write when I’m going through something in my life – positive or negative. I find composing to be therapeutic! I fiddle with the guitar or keyboard to find my base and take off with melody and lyrics.
There is always an emotional trigger – It sometimes takes me years to finish a song. My latest song called “Joy”, which will be releasing soon, is one I started composing when my daughter was born, which I finished recently.
3. What are the biggest challenges for a singer-songwriter in the UAE now?
The fact that I am a Lebanese / Arabic-speaking singer who chooses to sing in English is possibly the biggest challenge I have faced so far. I am constantly asked and encouraged to sing songs in my native tongue. This is what led me to work on a couple of Arabic songs, one of which was published on my debut album “Mama’s Back.”
Another area that has presented challenges is the production, which is lacking in the region. There are very few producers who can create good sound in jazz & soul, which is why so many artists are having to collaborate with producers in Europe and the US.
Then, there’s the funding problem! That is what prompted me to become one of the very first artists in the Arab world to launch a crowdfunding campaign – something I got much criticism for. It’s now, thankfully, very common for artists to use crowdfunding to raise production money and the Arab world has definitely become much more receptive to the idea.
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Watch Rouba in action here:
4. Advice for aspiring musicians who want to live by their instrument in the UAE:
Seek originality in the composition, production and performance of your music. It’s easier said than done, because influences go way beyond your control and filter into your work so easily that it’s imperative you try to find your own sound.
So, it’s not about the album sales which are of no added value really, nor about your followers but about your commitment to create good music that truly reflects who you are. The rest will always follow.
5. Tell us in 50 words or less why our readers should come to Muze on Wednesdays to watch you play.
It’s truly a live music night revolving around sound quality, musicians, song selection and, most importantly, the overall ambiance. It feels like hosting people in an extension of my living room!
When: Muze is open on
Tuesdays Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8pm until 2am 3AM.
Where: Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj, Dubai
Reservations: Email email@example.com or call +971 4 450 1037 or +971 4 427 9672
Have you visited Muze on Wednesdays? What did you think of the music and vibe? Know of any other live music spots you want to share? Tell us in the comments below.