Saturday, May 3, 2014

Charbel Haber 13 questions

Charbel Haber, born in Beirut on June 1, 1978, is one of the figureheads of the Lebanese experimental stage, is an artist of many facets: guitarist, musician, performer & composer, he lives and works in Beirut. Post-rock group Scrambled eggs founder member, he also composed music for films, is engaged in the organization of the festival of free improvisation festival Irtijal since 2002 and core member of MILL (Musique Improvisée Libre au Liban) association since this same year. Founder of experimental music record label Those Kids Must Choke in 2004. The label has released 6 albums to the present day. Also cofounder (with Al Maslakh) of experimental record label Johnny Kafta’s Kids Menu in 2010.


Scrambled Eggs came together as a musical entity in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1998, in a city still reeling from the damages of its civil war(s). The band went through different combinations of styles, from ambient rock, to progressive to free improvisation: after riding the Grunge wave for a while, the group went for a more experimental approach to its music, establishing their own, particular musical identity; although some of their influences can still be discerned (specifically, the bands from the Canadian label Constellation, deftly mixed with noise and no-wave ingredients), the musicians
embraced a whole new palette of sounds and created their own distinctive sound, a fine mesh of guitars and noises, pushing to the extreme the search for harmony in chaos. The influence of free improvisation kept on growing steadily, and parallel to their work with Scrambled eggs, group members Charbel Haber and Marc Codsi started playing and recording with European artists from the Improv scene.


Member of the Lebanese free improvisation group, Moukhtabar Ensemble (2005-2007).
Member and co-founder of free improvisation groups BAO, XEFM, The Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra and the psychedelic Arabic music trio Malayeen.
Haber has collaborated with musicians and artists as Gene Coleman, Justice Yeldham & The Dynamic Ribbon Machine, Jean Pallandre, Laurent Grappe, Tadahiko Yokogawa, Stéphane Rives, Christine Sehnaoui, Radivision, Rohdri Davies, Jean Francois Pauvros, The Ex… He has also recorded and released collaborations with notable artists from free rock and improv fields, like Michael Zerang, Joseph Ghosn’s Discipline, David Stackenas, Mats Gustafson, Annette Krebs, Eddie Prevost and Sabu Toyozumi. 

Haber’s work encompasses film, video art and theater, both as solo artist and like a member of Scrambled Eggs. The latter have composed the soundtracks for long-feature films A Perfect Day and Je Veux Voir by Lebanese directors Khalil Joreige & Joanna Hadji Thomas. They have also contributed with incidental music to Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab’s nominated feature The Last Man. As a solo artist, Haber has collaborated with Lebanese video artists Lamia Joreige and Akram Zaatari. He has composed the music and performs in Rabih Mroueh and Lina Saneh’s theater performance Photo Romance (2010).

He is presently involved in the preparation of a musical tribute to Egyptian guitar virtuoso Omar Khorchid, an 8 electric guitar orchestra soon to be released on Italian record label Sagittarius A-Star.

How would you define silence?

i’m a big fan of Cage so i refer to his piece 4’33’’ as my definition of silence
so i would say that silence is the sound of the environment
unless we're talking about outer space

What do you remember from your first guitar?

I still have it
it’s a italian brand strat copy very ugly white with black pick guard and a silver alien sticker and some quote sticker about weed teenage shit
it makes a lot of noise, a loooot of noise
on the other hand all my guitars are noisy even my japanese jags
but it used to make a wicked sound when i changed pick ups
so i used that a lot

Charbel Haber, Fadi Tabbal, Joseph Ghosn - HAPPY DAYS - Bourj Hammoud

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

fuck the police

Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

Omarchestra:  Sharif Sehnaoui, Tony Elieh, Fadi Tabbal, Osman Arabi, Sam Shalabi, Maurice Louca, Umut Caglar and yours truly
it’s an 7 electric guitars and 1 electric bass ensemble that plays psychedelic arabic music
recorded our first album last february and the vinyl is coming out in May on Sagittarius A-Star label
the main idea was to compose pieces that are a cross over between the work of Glenn Branca and Omar Khorshid
i imagined how it could be but i wasn’t sure that we could do it the result exceeded all my expectations

Which is the main pleasure of the guitar?

you can still play it when you re completely wasted, fucked, wired, high…and standing up of course

What gear do you use?

i use a Japanese Fender Jaguar
i love it
got 2 of those same color same thing
i don’t want to own any other guitars i just want japanese jaguars(fadi tabbal wants to kill me for that, he says i’m stupid and i agree) not american
a lot of pedals: zvex lo-fi junky, Moogerfoogers(mainly the ring modulator), the boss pitch shifter delay that i can’t live without, reverb holy grail and the memory man hazardy and freeze from electro harmonix, line 6 looper,  a little fuzz box from Katana Sounds and a doepfer dark energy
a couple of utensils and an E-bow

What do you dream about?

guitars, drugs, woman, cinema and endless studio sessions

How would you define today's digital music scene?

don’t know what to say about it i’m quite an analog musician

Define one image you're still looking for.

saw it in one 60’s japanese monster movie
the scene takes place in a club
you have a psychedelic rock jap band playing and behind it a screen with a lava lamp type movement

How do you experience time? How do you experiment with time?

i like to stretch it as much as possible so i can get lost between the micro seconds

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

Glenn Branca, Omar Khorshid and John Coltrane

Where are your roots? What are your influences?

roots, Omar Khorshid and Nirvana
influences, Glenn Branca, Omar Khorshid, John Coltrane, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Christian Fennesz, John Cage, Fly Pan Am, jim O’rourke, John Fahey, Leonard Cohen, Georges Wassouf...

Concert de Charbel Haber - La Criée centre d'art contemporain - 12/12/2013

What’s your latest project about?


Selected Discography

Scrambled Eggs

- Numb Beirut Incognito (La Cd-Thèque/Incognito 2002)
- Bullet and a gun Beirut Underground (Mooz/Incognito 2005)
- Russian Roulette BabyBoom Sampler002 (BabyBoom Records
- Let It Go BabyBoom Sampler 003 (BabyBoom Records 2008)
- The Good The Bad & The Tail The Ruptured Sessions volume 2
compilation (Ruptured 2009)


- Human Friendly Noises (La Cd-Thèque/Incognito 2002)
- No Special Date Nor a Deity to Venerate (La Cd-
Thèque/Incognito 2004)
- Nevermind Where Just Drive (Those Kids Must Choke 2004)
- Happy Together Filthy Forever (Incognito 2006)
- A Perfect Day OST (Mooz/ Incognito/Nocturne 2006)
- Je Veux Voir OST (Those Kids Must Choke/Incognito2008)
- Dedicated to Foes Celebrating Friends (Incognito 2008)
- Jackpot Blues (self-released 2009)
- Scrambled Eggs & Friends (Johnny Kafta’s Kids Menu 2010)
- Scrambled Eggs & A-Trio Beach Party at Mirna el Chalouhi
(Johnny Kafta’s Kids Menu 2010)
- Peace is Overrated & War Misunderstood (Ruptured 2010)

Music For Films

- Sleep, a short film by Lamia Joreige (2004)
- The Last Man, a film by Ghassan Salhab(2006)
- Diaporama, a short film by Nadim Asfar (2007)
- Le Liban En Automne, a short film by Nadim Tabet (2007)
- Jeunes et Innocents, a film by Nadim Tabet (2007)
- Nights and Days, a short film by Lamia Joreige (2007)
- Beyrouth Hotel, a film by Danielle Arbid (2011)
- Crayons of Askalan, a film by Leila Hoteit (2011)
- Stable/Unstable, a film by Mahmoud Hojeij (2014)
- Ladder To Dammascus, a film by Mhamad Malass (2014)
- Summer of 91, a film by Nadim Tabet (2014)

XIIIth International Festival of Experimental Music in Lebanon