Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia

Interview with Agent Whiskers

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Agent Whiskers is the moniker of Essam Ghamadi an electronica artist from Saudi Arabia. I have reviewed his first album “Abstract forms of Solace” and third album “A Perfect State of Disarray”. Essam released his 4th album “A Method of Symmetry” last week.
Find out more about the album, his recording set up and also his plans to go live in my interview with him below

Tell us a bit about your new album, “A Method of Symmetry”

“A Method of Symmetry” is my 4th full-length album under the stage name Agent Whiskers. After my last album which was, in a way, a spiritual successor to the album before it, I wanted to go in a completely different direction and sort of challenge myself. What can I do different? How can I keep things fresh without resorting to gimmickry and repetition? I’m very happy with how diverse the 10 tracks are and it’s by far my most focused album yet. It’s also my longest album yet, coming in at just over 45 minutes.

How does it compare to your previous 3 albums?

It takes more from my debut album “Abstract Forms of Solace” than the other two. The vibe is more atmospheric and less confrontational. I used some new recording techniques and software that I’ve picked up during my downtime between albums. I think you’ll agree that it’s a step up in production quality.

What was your songwriting process this time around?

It’s funny. This is the first album I’ve done that I scrutinized and reworked to perfection. My previous 3 albums were written in the order you see them, with the exception of a track or two. With this album, I reworked the song order about 3 times until I was finally satisfied with the pacing and the balance. I guess it’s a more mature approach to songwriting than in my previous albums. Since the album shifts through different styles, it was a challenge keeping it fresh and interesting. I’m very happy with how it came out in the end and I would do it no differently if granted a do-over.

What equipment/software do you use for recording?

This album was recorded on my beat-up 2009 MacBook Pro using Logic Pro. Software VSTs used were Native Instruments ‘Massive’ and Lennar Digital’s ‘Sylenth1’. Some of them were presets I found online and some were sounds I worked on from the ground up using both those VSTs. Drum sounds (kick, snare, cymbals, and FX) are samples found in any Vengeance sample pack.

You have released 4 albums in the past year. How did you manage to get the time?

Lots of free time and caffeine! I’ve always stressed that this is what I want to be doing for a living and I’m trying my hardest to make it a reality. The challenge of being a musician in Saudi Arabia is one I’ll have to overcome on my own if I plan to keep doing what I’m doing. Music just comes naturally to me regardless of genre. I’ve played and written music for many bands and genres but to get to express myself my own way is a luxury you cannot get when playing in a band.

How has the response to your music been so far?

Extremely overwhelming. I’m in awe at some of the responses the latest album managed to get out of listeners. It’s very rewarding to work hard on something for months and find people who are appreciative of your work. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m still doing this.

How/when did you get into electronica?

I started writing electronic music when I first opened up GarageBand and realized I had an entire music suite on my laptop. This was sometime in 2010. I don’t typically listen to the genre much but it gives me so much freedom to express myself musically that it gives me a deep appreciation for it.

You have mentioned that Radiohead are a big influence on your music, who are other artists that have influenced you?

There’s a lot of Radiohead and early Muse prevalent in my style. There was also this game called “Shatter” that had an incredible soundtrack by an amazing artist named Module which came out a few years back. That soundtrack flipped a switch that sort of made me say “hey, I can do this too”. The layering of the tracks and the production was something similar to what I wanted to achieve that I can’t help but thank him for giving me that drive to commit to this new project.

Are you aware of any other electronica artists in Saudi Arabia?

There’s plenty of guys out there that are just like me who have played in bands but do electronic stuff on the side. I’ve been encouraging them to try and get official releases out there so we can have a decent Saudi electro scene going.

What are your plans for rest of the year? Another album or single?

Whatever influences me next! I’m going to be focusing on making a live set based on my previous 4 albums and a few singles. I want to take Agent Whiskers on the road and try to get myself as much exposure as I can.

Any Final words?

Head over to my Bandcamp page and if you like what you hear, let me know on Twitter (@AgentWhiskers)! Peter, you were an early supporter and we go way back a bit so I want to thank you for your support. And I’d especially like to thank everyone who’s taking part in making my dream a reality. Couldn’t do it without them. Thanks for the interview!

Written by trendcrusher

August 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

Creative Waste “Slaves to Conformity” Review + Interview

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We are only in April and it has been great year so far for grindcore fans – the return of nasum, a new killer album from Napalm Death and now you can add one more thing to the list, the release of the long awaited album from the Saudi Arabia’s only grindcore band, Creative Waste.

“Slaves to Conformity” is their first album after releasing 2 promising Demos/EP, “Colonies” in 2005 and “Cruelty beyond Conception” in 2007.

The band gets down to business from the first track itself, “Divide and Conquer“. Anyone who has spent some time in Saudi Arabia or its neighbouring countries will be able to relate to songs like “Kingdom of Fear” and “Slaves to Conformity”. One of my favourite songs on the album is “Cradle to the Grave” which features Kevin Talley (Six Feet Under, Daath) on drums. The track is an example of how much the band has matured as musicians since their first release. “Novus Ordo Seclorum” is another track that features Kevin. “Defeatist“, a preview track that was released last year sounds a lot more brutal with the beefier production. “Ahfad Qabeel” or “Descendants of Cain” is the first grindcore song in Arabic (as far as I know) and it sounds great. The album clocks in at just over 30 minutes and i am sure you will hit the repeat button after listening to it for the first time.

Creative Waste have spent a couple of years recording “Slaves to Conformity” and it has been worth the wait. The production of the album is great especially the drums which has a punch to it. Talal is easily the top death metal drummer in the Arabian Gulf and Middle East region. I’ve been following Creative Waste since they released their first demo/ EP in 2002 and they have evolved as a band. This album could be one that establishes them as a great grindcore band rather than as “a grindcore band from Saudi Arabia”.

Check out my interview with Essam and Fawaz from Creative Waste below

Congrats on the release of your debut album “Slaves to Conformity”. How do you feel now that its finally out?

Essam Thanks! It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted. This has been in the making for a long time and we’re just glad it’s finally out there.

The album has been in the making for a couple years, what was the reason/s behind the delay?

Essam We wanted our debut album to sound the best it possibly can so we had to go through some unconventional means to get that done. Since Talal, our drummer, was studying in the US and we refused to use a drum machine or drumming software, we went ahead and tasked Kevin Talley to assist us in the development of the record and the overall recording of the drums. Talal flew out to DC and laid down the drum tracks. Talley was also kind enough to lend his drumwork to two tracks written by Fawaz. Other problems, including my terrible work schedule, interfered with the process.

How long was the recording process for the album?

Essam 3 years. We started preparing for this album sometime in 2009. Coming up with the budget and organizing the workflow of the recording process took the most time. Piecing the album together was a relatively quick process and we got mixing support from Chris Leamy, a producer who happened to be in Riyadh at the time and contacted us through MySpace.

Tell us a bit about the album, what was the inspiration behind it?

Essam A lot of these songs were written a very long time ago and we’ve performed them live on several occasions. It’s the culmination of all of our influences streamlined into a single vision. We didn’t want to release a by-the-numbers grindcore album and we also didn’t want to deviate too far from the genre and its influences. There’s so little room for innovation and experimentation in a genre like this that we decided that we should focus on writing an album that we, ourselves, would want to hear. Catchy riffs, powerful hooks, breakneck blast beats, all of these aspects of our style originate from one place or another but rarely do you see them incorporated into a single song so seamlessly. I believe it’s what we do best.

How does the album compare to the 2 EPs you have released earlier?

Essam I believe we’ve achieved what it was we were always looking for, finding our sound, something we’ve been talking about endlessly during the makeshift recording of Colonies and Cruelty. We were still learning as we went along and there’s always more to learn from any recording process. You can tell how much we’ve progressed since then and that has always been our goal.

A couple tracks on the album feature Kevin Talley (Six Feet Under, Daath) on drums, how did you get in contact with him?

Essam Fawaz wrote some riffs one time while listening to a Kevin Talley YouTube video where Talley was recording drums for Misery Index’s “Defector” and it clicked so well that he decided to rip the audio and record the guitar track on top of Talley’s drumming. A close friend of the band (Ahmed Al-Mustafa) encouraged him to send it to Talley but eventually took it upon himself to contact Talley through Facebook. Kevin was awesome enough to respond and was interested in pursuing the collaboration but didn’t have a workable version of “Defector” on drums so they decided to work on original material instead. One thing led to another and he ended up helping us produce the album.

Creative Waste is the only grindcore band from Saudi Arabia, how did you first come across grindcore music?

Essam It was a very interesting discovery, to say the least, and it dates back to 2001 when we were your typical teenage Korn apologists. We were always in pursuit of the most aggressive music in its rawest form and we were a bunch of dumb kids with very little experience in music. As the years passed, we started delving deeper into more extreme forms of Metal starting with Cannibal Corpse and Cryptopsy and eventually Napalm Death. Personally, it was Nasum that did me in. To this day, I attribute most of my songwriting in Creative Waste to Nasum. The unpredictable nature of the song structure is something I carry with me to this day, no matter what project it is I’m working on. The sheer energy just blew us away and we wanted to emulate that sound to the best of our abilities.

Last year, you did a mini tour of the US with gigs in New York, Texas and the Maryland Deathfest. What was the experience like?

Essam It was a surreal experience. Never have we played our music to fans who can understand the nuances of our work. They just get it, man. The crowd went nuts when we got on and that’s ultimately when I felt like our work was really cut out for us. We’ve always put playing live shows into consideration when writing music for Creative Waste and the payoff is always fun to watch. Also, I can’t really speak for Maryland Deathfest since my job interfered with my chance to play there (never again) so I’ll have Fawaz discuss that.

Fawaz: It was one of the best experiences ever! You feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be. Everyone over there was super friendly, we got to meet so many awesome people that showed nothing but love and respect for what we do. Everything about it from the audience and the atmosphere to the merch tables, probably one of the only places I can find almost any record or shirt I’m looking for. We spent almost all the money we made off our shirts and cds that we sold on the merch. Not to mention the great bands that we got to share the same stage with. It’s just hard to describe how good we felt there, it feels like we can’t experience that easily anywhere else. The best part was, knowing we’re the first band from our country to play there, and there were no other arabs over there which made us feel more important haha. Definitely one of the biggest steps that we’ve taken for our band and would be more than glad to do it again sometime.

What are your plans for 2012?

Essam Play as many shows as we possibly can and promote the shit out of “Slaves to Conformity”.

Any Final words.

Essam Thanks to everyone for supporting Saudi music and grindcore in a place where such a thing is ignorantly deemed satanic and inhumane. We just love to write music that’ll give you permanent nosebleeds. And thank you for this interview!

Stream/Download “Slaves to Conformityhere

Written by trendcrusher

April 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Agent Whiskers – A Perfect State of Disarray Review

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Imagine the post-apocalyptic world, death and destruction all around you. Lost and confused, away from your friends and family you are trying to figure out what happened to them and others. I am sure at least some of you have had a dream/nightmare like this or have watched the Hollywood movie, 2012. The latest album by Agent Whiskers, “A Perfect State of Disarray” is the soundtrack to it.

For those who have not read my previous post about Agent Whiskers, he is an electronic musician from Saudi Arabia. After releasing a couple of remixes, he is back with another album (the 3rd in 6 months for those keeping count). Unlike his peers in the Middle East, Agent Whiskers does not make electronic music to be played in clubs. It is for this reason I am writing about him on  my blog which mainly covers Rock/Metal artists.

This album has much darker themes than the previous two albums. With 7 tracks at 31 minutes, it is like a juicy beefburger with no fat (if i may use the analogy). My favorite tracks from the album are “New Dawn (The World Is Ours)” and “Deliverance (No Rest For the Wicked)”.  I feel this is the best release by Agent Whiskers so far. The production is a lot better especially the drums which I had an issue with in the earlier album.

If the past six months are any indication, expect at least a couple more album from Agent Whiskers this year. I hope this music reaches the ears of video game developers etc. , more attention needs to directed towards this new sound coming from Saudi Arabia.

Name your price and Download “A Perfect State of Disarrayhere 

Written by trendcrusher

February 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Agent Whiskers – “Abstract forms of Solace” Review

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Essam Ghamadi aka Agent Whiskers has been part of the Saudi music scene for a while now. I’ve been following his band, Creative Waste (  the only grindcore band from Saudi Arabia) for a few years. The debut album by Creative Waste has been scheduled to be released for the past year (even longer I think) hence I was surprised when Essam released a solo album a couple months ago under the moniker “Agent Whiskers”.

Agent Whiskers  is very different musically from Creative Waste. The best way I could describe it is “Ambient electronica“, the kinda music you would hear in the soundtrack of a video game and maybe even in a movie.

Abstract forms of Solace” is a short listen, clocking in at less than 30 minutes. It starts off with the “The Great Beyond (Secret Window)“, a piano driven track. My favorite tracks on the album are “Almost Home” and “Virtual Cleansing“. “Almost Home” reminds me of the how the journey home feels even longer after a exceptionally long day at work.  Essam described the album by saying,”At its core, the record evokes hope, despair, harmony and eventually solace”. I don’t I could describe it better.

Each song on the album is story in itself. The descriptive song titles make up for the lack of lyrics. The production is minimal and really suits the music, however better drum samples could have been used. Check out a couple of tracks from the album along with unreleased tracks here.  Download “Abstract of Solace” from itunes  here and from bandcamp here .

There are few similar artists in the Arabian Gulf region that I am aware of, stay tuned for more music from Agent Whiskers to be released before the end of the year.


Written by trendcrusher

September 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm