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Interview with Anis Hamadeh about THE FLOOD
By Das Neue Rheingold / August Finger, April 28, 2013
URL of the German Original: http://dasneuerheingold.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/zwischen-manisch-und-schamanisch/
Anis Hamadeh is an artist of impressive versatility and productivity. In February, his anthology "Robert - and Other Rhymed Stories, Satires and Fairytales" appeared (in German) and since April the concept album THE FLOOD is out which will be released by Timezone Records. THE FLOOD is the story of the castaway Joe who finds himself on an unknown island and falls in love with beautiful Coco. Joe's first flirting initiatives do not impress Coco much. She gives him a task, asking him to bring peace to two island peoples that are living in enmity. The journey takes him all over the island and through a variety of musical styles ranging from rock to tango.
Das Neue Rheingold: You started writing THE FLOOD at the end of a long fasting cure. Is there a connection between the plot and the fasting?
Anis: A good deal of the energy needed for the songwriting came from the fasting experience. The plot rather is from my subconscious. The positive overall atmosphere and the optimism came from fasting. I have enough of depressive post-neo-deconstructivist music, there has to be more. Give people something that lifts them up!
DNR: In your fasting diary you describe how you freed yourself from old habits and objects. Can this be brought into a context with the relief that Joe feels in THE FLOOD as a result of losing his memory?
Anis: I think so. It is difficult to say, as I did not plan or design THE FLOOD, although it may seem so. Joe feels relief, because he cannot remember his trauma. So his mind is at ease. Not for very long, though, as the past catches up with him.
DNR: I find it extraordinary that you wrote the songs in exactly the order in which they now appear on the CD. Did you know that this would work while you were writing it?
Anis: Yes, I knew that, because this is how I use to work and it has basically always functioned. In this way, I as the author never know more than the audience and the story remains interesting for everybody. In the beginning, I was surprised about this method myself; meanwhile I just take it for granted. It is a game. I analyzed the way my trances work and can use this knowledge today. Everybody can. You can learn to charge yourself with energy and to sit straight down and write when the peak of inspiration is reached. Then things can happen extremely fast sometimes. The title piece of my current book "Robert", for example, took me less than three hours. Once I wrote and recorded a complete album with fourteen songs within 24 hours.
DNR: How important is the political message of THE FLOOD to you and what is behind the concept "nonkilling"?
Anis: The principle of nonviolence has been familiar to me ever since I read the two large autobiographies of Gandhi and King as a teenager, plus a lot of Hesse. This shaped who I am now and how I developed. It might not seem particularly timely, but I think it is the real thing. "Nonkilling" stands for an interdisciplinary academic initiative asking if people and societies have to kill and if so why, and if not why not? This question is right at the pulse of the age. Yet, after the publication of my translation of the nonkilling book by Professor Glenn Paige I had to realize that there was little interest. Professor Krippendorff, who wrote the introduction of the translation, had suspected that. I admit this had frustrated me - personally and politically -, but it is not new to me to stand my ground vis-á-vis a great majority and remain firm once I have found something is good and important. In THE FLOOD, political and other messages intermingle and nonviolence is only a part. Yet it is an important part, especially because it is missing elsewhere. A personality like Petra Kelly could hardly find a place in today's political landscape, something I consider to be alarming and unsettling.
DNR: THE FLOOD is the first part of a planned trilogy. Will the second part immediately resume the story?
Anis: The second part, THE FLEET, begins in New York, where Coco and Joe will share an apartment and Joe will return home with an electric guitar. The sound will be heavier, a cello will substitute the flute. The story will be about a fleet of ships sailing to the island in an attempt to end the violence there. This is all I know except that the production will be considerably more expensive. Part 3, THE BEAT, will be set in Mozart's time, with chamber music instruments and many voices.
DNR: On your previous CD "Die Dichter" (The Poets) there is - in translation - this about your name: "Anis is he who entertains, whose song the people's liking gains." When did you realize that this is your role?
Anis: In June 1998. I had abandoned my PhD thesis and a depression lay behind me when I decided to follow a dream: I recorded a CD with my songs, at home alone, with a four-track-tape-recorder. There I knew it. I was 31 years old already, for domestic violence had inhibited my talents for a long time. When I started talking about this issue in the family, they for three years massively tried to commit me to a psychiatric hospital. When, in turn, I started to talk about that I lost my job at the University of Kiel. I did lose a lot and it is a little miracle that I am still alive. Sabine Yacoub is the main reason for that. My name indeed means "friend, entertainer, confidant" and is related to the word "insan" (human being).
DNR: You are an MA in Islamic Studies and taught Arabic at the university. Does your knowledge of the Arabic language have a direct impact on the way you write in German or in English?
Anis: An interesting question. When you know several languages you get a better understanding of what language is to begin with. Studying languages and linguistics including Chomsky's deep grammar surely influenced my poetic articulation. Moreover, each language that you live brings about a personality of its own. You will find new facets in yourself. As one can only write about oneself in the end (everything else would be presumptuous), this is a useful circumstance.
DNR: Since some time ago, elaborate origami exhibits can be found among your works. They are made of very many minute units. Where does your fascination with this form of art come from?
Anis: One day I discovered these origami triangles. They are like lego made of paper and you can create splendid things with them. There will be some new figures to be exhibited soon. It is amazing that I have so much patience when I do this. Maybe I am slightly autistic or something like that, I have no idea what that is. Something between manic and shamanic.
DNR: Your pictures, too, seem to consist of smallest basic parts and there appears to be a similar principle even in your poetry collection "Loving Jay" when you explain its crystal structure. Is that a kind of reoccurring concept in your work?
Anis: Yes, the DIN A1 pictures ("wimmelbilder") as well as the A3 city views are full of details, there is a similarity. "Loving Jay" (which is online in toto in two languages) rather is related to THE FLOOD, for it consists of 81 poems that tell a story. When you can create a small good thing and when you can combine two small things, then at one point big things will come into being, automatically.
DNR: In THE FLOOD you have united all musical styles one can think of. The only one that seems to be missing is hip hop. Can you imagine to try this genre? (For example, I think that your piece "Robert" with its manyfold rhymes sounds as if you just had to put a beat underneath it.)
Anis: There are several musical styles I did not try yet and I am always attracted by the new, the thing I have not done before. There are no fears of contact on my side. Of course I can also write a hip hop, maybe I will do that in part 2, who knows. It partly depends on who is around at the time. "Robert" is on my website as an mp3. Basically, I can recite almost twenty of these rhymed stories by heart and this can indeed sometimes sound like a rap.
DNR: Where can we listen to you and the band playing THE FLOOD in the near future? Will there be a tour?
Anis: You can always resort to Anis Online for concert dates. On May 25 I will play and read in the Bukafski bookstore here in Mainz. I hope that the whole band can be seen on stage soon, with the new percussionist Clinton Heneke. Maybe an agent or manager reads this, for at the moment I do everything myself, which has its limits.
Anis Online: www.anis-online.de/e.htm
THE FLOOD: www.anis-online.de/2/musik/the_flood (With 5 free mp3s and a music video)
Fasting Diary: www.anis-online.de/2/artclub/fasting_diary.htm
TIMEZONE Records: www.timezone-records.com
"Robert" on Amazon: www.amazon.de/Robert-gereimte-Geschichten-Satiren-M%C3%A4rchen/dp/3942490099/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360672265&sr=1-2
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