Red Bull Music Academy

Esam Hamad aka Cosmo is to represent Bahrain at the Red Bull Music Academy

Red Bull Music Academy

For the second time ever, Bahrain is being represented at the Red Bull Music Academy this autumn. We speak to the chosen one.

What have been your musical inspirations?
I think initially I got inspired to pick up an instrument from family members. There are several people in the family that play guitar, sing. I picked up the guitar when I was a teenager – everyone wanted to be in a band as a teenager – that’s how I got into it.

I eventually realised there are other genres I’m missing. I stopped being too focused on the guitar as an instrument and really focused more on the music itself.

How do you feel about getting accepted to the Red Bull Music Academy?
It’s great. I was really surprised. It’s not easy. The actual chance of being selected is very slim. I was very excited – I put a lot of effort into the application and the demo CD. I spent a lot of time picking the right tracks. I made sure it was a good representation of the music I make – it wasn’t purely electronic, it wasn’t purely guitar; it was the blend and that’s how I love to position myself.

I’ve been playing the guitar for well over 15 years – it’s still my instrument and that’s what I do best – but I also love the endless possibilities you have today with technology. I don’t like to force my music into specific genres but since I like both approaches – the analogue and digital – I think marrying the two gives you really interesting results.

I tried to show this through my application. There are also certain questions you’re supposed to draw – where do you see yourself in the musical universe, for example.

What did you draw?
Interesting. I drew what represented a solar system and basically in the centre of that is where I would like to see myself in the future as a musician, as an artist. But where I’m currently at is exploring first. You know, music to me is not just playing. It’s playing, creating, listening. I’ve sort of been through all that and I’m currently creating and eventually dissipating in this whole music universe. I don’t think it’s very easy to explain [laughs]. Which is maybe why we were asked to draw this in the first place.

After, will you come back here and revolutionise Bahrain’s musical landscape?
Maybe! I mean, if I could. Revolutionise is a big word. There’s a lot of talented artists in Bahrain. I’ve lived abroad for many years – in the States, in Spain and London – and as a guitarist I appreciate skills and I’ve seen some really great players in Bahrain. There’s a lot of passion here. But that might not be reflected on the actual scene in Bahrain – we don’t have enough platforms.

You’ve already been making music for a long time so why did you apply now?
I don’t get to meet a lot of artists. There is a scene in Bahrain, there’s a lot of talented musicians. Maybe not enough platforms where musicians meet, talk about music, collaborate, discuss ideas. Especially if you’re into niche genres. This is probably the main reason why I decided to apply. I just want to meet people, meet artists, establish an international network. This year the artists come from 37 different countries and this is a great way for me to meet people from different backgrounds, with a different approach. The tools might all be the same but the way people go about making music is very different.

I’ve never studied music. There was always this feeling that I haven’t given into this thirst to learn more music. It’s like it wasn’t satisfied enough.

I just want to get the opportunity to learn from people who are actually making a difference in the music scene today. This is the perfect platform for that. Through collaborating with artists or just listening to other artists and learning about their approach, their motives. Plus there are a lot of visiting lecturers and some very established artists that are a part of this programme and getting exposed to that first hand.

In a sense it’s music education but it’s very different. I feel it’s what’s really happening out there on the scene.

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