Facing Racism and Sensationalism

by Ziad Nawfal

Hamed Sinno is the lead singer of the Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila. In this podcast he talks about belonging, identity, and representation. And he explains where he is facing racism and sensationalism when doing music as a Lebanese artist in a global context. A podcast from the Norient exhibition Seismographic Sounds, written and produced by Ziad Nawfal.

Quotes from the Podcast


«We are abandoned from Beirut for the most part.»


«I try as much as possible to avoid questions of my own identity. When it comes to music I prefer a modular, performative writing, that I love so much for its playfulness. When you are writing, identity becomes more a hindrance than anything else.»


«The thing that is questionable for me is this idea of speaking for other people outside the band; speaking for Lebanese youth which is such a ridiculous category, like there is one singular youth.»

#racism #stereotypes

«There is always this narrative about the Arabs as Islamists, as fanatics, as terrorists, and then: the artist is the exception. I do feel like that's racist.»

#gender #sensationalism

«The other part that is a bit strange is this insistence on addressing my sexuality for press purposes. There is some sort of sensationalism that is to happen around this idea of an out-gay musician in Lebanon. The idea of being reduced to these things is very problematic for me. When I wake up I think about my writing. I don't think about being gay.»

#jazz #Arabmusic

«I grew up in a house where there was a lot of jazz, there wasn't any Arab music. The only Arab music that I had when I was growing up was Fayruz' Kifak Inta, that cassette, because my father used to play it for my grand mother when she was dying and he was singing along to her when she was lying in bed.»


«We don't pick subject matter for any particular reason, just write about the things that we like and the message is literally just the lyrics and the music. It's not like the lyrics and the music referring to a bigger message that we are trying to communicate.»

Published on August 10, 2017

Last updated on January 16, 2020


Ziad Nawfal is a DJ, radio show host, independent music producer and music critic. He worked for a number of years in Beirut’s alternative record shop La CD-Thèque and its sister label, Incognito Productions. Starting in 2006, he began flirting with music production and management, producing an album for Lebanese punk rock band Scrambled Eggs, as well as three EP’s for electronica outfit Munma.

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