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22nd October 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: You have some blatant social and political commentary in the lyrics, like ‘Smell of War’, which is very current about the whole Syrian situation. Obviously, you said you’re half Syrian, so…
KAMIL: Yes, this is my personal tribute to the tragedy of normal Syrian people. I wanted it to be a straightforward song; a protest song, like a Neil Young/Bob Dylan song, maybe just a bit more powerful with the metal guitar. The message is very clear, like my heart is bleeding with what I see what happens in my father’s country, and in a country I lived in for many years.
(Kamil Haidar on ambitious plans to transform Lion Shepherd into a fully immersive show)
"When we will come back with our full set... I want to show Lion Shepherd as a big artistic experience; as a multimedia experience..."
Kamil Haidar backstage at The Ritz, Manchester, UK, 22nd October 2015
Photograph copyright © 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Lion Shepherd Official Website:
Hiraeth (2015)
Thanks to Mik Gaffney for arranging the interview
Lion Shepherd Official Facebook:
MD: You say Bob Dylan, it kind of has that folky kind of vibe to it as well, particularly saying what you feel and with the delivery of the lyrics.
KAMIL: Yes, exactly, this is his power.
MD: You also have some more abstract ideas in songs, so do you feel more comfortable expressing your emotional self in an abstract way rather than a literal manner?
KAMIL: Yes, I wanted, also, to be… because I want the listener to have his own interpretation and to feel free to refer this lyric to his own life, his own emotions; I don’t want to close this path for him. The trip goes even further with our music. This is my aim.
MD: So there’s depth in both the music and the lyrics.
KAMIL: Yes, exactly.
MD: Of the guest musicians on the album, you have the amazing vocals of Rasm Al Mashan…
KAMIL: Yes, a female singer from Yemen.
MD: And she sings on ‘Smell of War’ and ‘Fly On’?
MD: How did she become involved; have you previously worked with her?
KAMIL: We are very close friends. We have known each other for around ten years but we never worked together. She’s a very fundamental world music artist. So she’s only in world music, maybe some of reggae. So she didn’t want to do metal things and rock things but, this time, when I sent her this recording and I told her what it is about, she loved it and I said, “do it in your own way; write your own lyric and use your quarter tones or whatever you want.” And this is it.
MD: Her voice sounds phenomenal on there. Does she have her own band or is she a solo artist?
KAMIL: She has a big world music band in Poland; it’s called Naxos, with Greek people also and Syrian people as well. They play this straight world music, so it’s only an acoustic, traditional thing.
MD: It states in press materials that you also involve graphic artists, filmmakers, design artists, and fashion designers as part of the project, so did you always set out with the aim to make Lion Shepherd a multimedia experience beyond just the music itself?
KAMIL: Honestly speaking, yes, because I think I want to try myself as an artist in many ways and in many scopes. So, working with these people is always a challenge for me. In Barcelona, I have a meeting in a few days, actually, when we are going to play there, with a very big, alternative fashion designer because I also want to compose music for fashion shows, for example. He’s also a great artist, you know. Creating fashion, this is the same as creating music, so I want to be involved in a lot of things, to try different things, and to drag them inside Lion Shepherd because I think it will make the project wealthier.
MD: I guess any art form, fundamentally, is about expressing your emotions, be it music, painting, fashion design, or whatever…
KAMIL: Yes, exactly.
MD: You already have music videos for all songs on the album, and I guess the songs do have some cinematic and narrative qualities, so do you regard visual media as important in how you want to present your music to the world?
KAMIL: Yes, I really take care of this side as well. It’s a funny thing because I always wanted to make something for the movies. Maybe in the future we’ll have time to work on the soundtrack for some movie, a short movie or a long movie. When we decided to make the videos, I said, “okay, don’t make another music video to the song, just use our song as a soundtrack and show its story in your own way.” So the director was free to do whatever he wants to do, and to use our music as a soundtrack.
MD: So your ultimate goal is to compose music for a film?
KAMIL: Yeah, we would like to do that.
MD: Have you had any interest?
KAMIL: Yeah, we have some interest in Poland, but I’m still looking because I’m a very huge fan of Neil Young and I love the way he made the soundtrack for ‘Dead Man’, many years ago, because he recorded it live while watching the movie. So he’s a great artist and I would like to do the same. For me, it’s not just giving songs to any movie, to a comedy or something, I want it to be something with a certain message on a certain artistic level.
MD: When you have these big shows next year, will you be using video projections?
KAMIL: Now, we are avoiding it. I want people to focus on the music because, sometimes, it’s distracting. We are thinking about it on Lion Shepherd Orient Ensemble because to combine a super traditional thing with completely opposite, super high-tech thing… but, we will see because, for me, the most important thing is people get the message clear and to get into this trance; we want to involve them.
MD: It also states in press blurb that “the project will create unique performances that go far beyond the traditional notion of a concert.” What can people expect from a full Lion Shepherd show?
KAMIL: When we will come back with our full set - because, now, we are still a support act - then I want to show Lion Shepherd as a big artistic experience; as a multimedia experience with music, sound, message, vision…
MD: Costumes?
KAMIL: Costumes, yes. I would like even to have a semi-theatrical thing. So the full set, this is how it’s going to look like, and we’re working on it, so it’s not only a rock concert; it’s something more. It’s always about something more.
MD: A fully immersive experience then?
MD: Finally, after this tour, what’s next for Lion Shepherd? I guess this big show you’re putting together will be your main focus, but do you have plans for a second album too?
KAMIL: Yeah, we are starting work on our second album already and, after coming back from the tour, we will prepare this Orient Ensemble. It will take a bit of time. And, next year, we want to release a second album and, yeah, we hope to play a few summer festivals and maybe we’ll also do a spring tour. I think we’ll do it in Poland because, in Poland, we’ve only played three shows, and nineteen shows outside of Poland… which is also awesome because we are a Polish band and we always dreamed about travelling outside Poland with our music. So, yeah, next year, we want to go on tour with the second album, I hope. And in-between, we still have these theatrical, Orient Ensemble performances, so yeah… [Laughs]
MD: Busy times ahead!
KAMIL: Busy times, yeah! [Laughs]
MD: Very busy times! Thank you so much for your time.
KAMIL: Thank you, thank you so much.