I come from different parts of the world. Europe, the Middle East, America. It’s a privilege to feel at home in so many places. My music also comes from all those places, and just as Dylan and the Stones influence me, the sounds of Astor Piazolla or Munir Bashir also shape the way I write and play music. I suppose that any musician just makes music which they want to hear.
I was born in Brussels on July 7, 1971. My parents had both been born in Iraq but also raised in different parts of the globe, and my family has been a real example of world citizens. Being able to see the world without any sense of national identity helps you to identify with everyone. My first 13 years are a haze of memories in Belgium, Iraq, London, the UAE, Vienna, Jordan, and I don’t know where else. Then we settled in Spain and I fell in love with everything that is Andalucia. Sun, sea, mountains, people who love to live and know how to do it. I never lost my connection with Spain, and even though I later went to live in the US and Belgium for 12 years, in 2002 I returned and have never left.
My musical exposure didn’t go much beyond the Beatles classics and Top of the Pops. I didn’t know if I wanted to be like Eddy Murphy or Eddy Grant, so my dad rented me a bass for a month but I never quite got into it. Then in 1985 I heard the Far Corporation’s cover of Stairway to Heaven, and it opened up a whole lot of doors. Zeppelin, Jimi, Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Jethro Tull, Van Halen, Santana, the Stones, Woodstock and all those things I had been missing out on all those years just flooded my life. I then went to the States and started seeing the gigs, seeing the legends in person on stage, and music took on another whole new meaning. It lived through people, and was not just a disassociated and unattainable concept that you heard on a record or a tape. By the way, I still want to be like Eddy Grant. When I moved back to Brussels in 1996, I met fantastic musicians and started writing and gigging. Among them, my good friend Bai Kamara Jr. became, and remains, one of my greatest mentors. Over the years, as I have worked with Bai or alone, nobody has pushed me as much to evolve from a guitar player to a songwriter. All the musicians I have worked with have been inspiring and have become my friends.
As always, we are working on a new album…