Interview: Lebanese Rock singer-songwriter IJK

by | Jun 3, 2016

IJK is a Rock singer-songwriter from Beirut, Lebanon. He has launched his music career in 2009 in London and has recently released his first music video entitled Space Odyssey. IJK is renowned for his soaring rock vocals and his music is characterized by powerful yet catchy melodies involving traditional rock sounds with electronic vibes. 1 In Music met the singer-songwriter.

1inmusic: What is unique about you and your music?
IJK: My music is about connecting with people and engaging them for a moment.
I define myself as a passionate explorer of life, walking across the planet trying to understand where we are from and where we are going.
We are all human beings who live by questions, not answers, and this central theme is a recurrent one in my songs and music.

1inMusic: What shaped your music and who supports you?
IJK: When I was 14 years old, I listened to Elvis Presley for the first time… It was an old CD I found at home among a pile of forgotten stuff.
Listening to the King performing those crazy 50’s Rock and Roll tunes or crooning those powerful ballads was a defining moment in my own path as an artist.

Later, when I saw the clip of Jailhouse Rock on TV, I said to myself: “That’s it! I want to become like him!“.
From day one, I got the support of my whole family especially my mother who is herself passionate about music.
I also received the important support of my close friends who never missed any of my gigs whether in Lebanon or the UK.

1inmusic: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
IJK: In 2008, while I was extremely busy during my first full time job at one of the prominent investment banks in London, I noticed how much I missed writing and performing music.
I had been writing my own materials since I was 20 years old but never had the chance to take it to the next level.
So I decided to quit my exhausting banking job for a more reasonable 9 to 5 position which allowed me to spare time to write, record and perform live my own music.
I worked with renowned producers from the London music scene and recorded at famed studios such as The Way and The Chapel Studios. Then I started gigging in various venues and cafes in London. I even played at The Bull & Gate, a legendary venue that helped launch the careers of international artists such as Keane, Coldplay and Blur.

1inmusic: What type of music do you listen to?
IJK: I am a big fan of rock in general but I am open to many other genres including synth-pop and new wave / electronica.
I listen a lot to artists and bands who have marked a turning point in the history of music and among my favorites you can find Elvis, Roy Orbison, The Doors, U2, Muse, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley.

1inmusic: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
IJK: There is this Norwegian band called A-HA which is very dear to me and whose nostalgic music has certainly influenced my style in a way or another.
I believe those guys did not receive the recognition they deserve. Some say they are a pop “one hit wonder” but I can assure you that they are much more than “Take On Me”.
In fact, very few know that they have released more than 10 albums with great pop/rock musical gems yet to be discovered by the masses.

1inmusic: How do you prepare for your performances?
IJK: I usually try to relax as much as possible. I often spend at least an hour in the gym on the day of my performance. This helps me release the pressure and gives me self confidence.
Other than that, I make sure to understand first the audience I am about to meet. It is important to communicate in the right way to the right audience.
In the end, music is a form of communication…The highest form actually.

1inmusic: What ignites your (song) writing flow?
IJK: Songwriting is an interesting process that engages both your creative and rational mind. For me, it always starts with a memory or thought that triggers a strong emotion.
It could be an emotion of nostalgia, wonder, longing or simply infatuation or ecstasy. I only write about topics that move me. When I write, I try to touch the heart of things.
But letting your emotions exclusively control your writing process can be a bit confusing at times. You gotta put some structure to the verses, you gotta channel emotions in the right creative direction.
This is where the rational mind intervenes. Before writing, I try to prep myself by emptying my mind and meditating on something beautiful and serene. A nature scenery usually works for me.

1inmusic: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
IJK: I work on my personal development. I read a lot. Reading has been a huge source of learning and improvement in my life. This is a cornerstone of my development as an artist and also as a human being.
I also maintain and improve my body by frequently going to the gym and practising various sports including biking, outdoor hiking and running.

1inmusic: Success to you is…
IJK: A path, not a destination. The very process of constant and never ending improvement is success itself.
I strongly believe that if you love what you do and are committed to constantly improve your results, then you are on the right path to success.
Thinking about success as an end destination is an illusion.

1inmusic: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
IJK: Start with what you already have. Don’t wait to be discovered or for the big break. Focus on your existing talent and develop yourself from there.
Don’t compare yourself to others as this is counterproductive. Better to compare your own progress to your own self.
Start small but put some effort everyday and most of all enjoy every achievement along the way.
To succeed in the music industry requires a lot of efforts and dedication and you gotta enjoy the process itself.

1inmusic: Any upcoming projects?
IJK: Yes. I am currently working on my second original music video. Following the success of my first music video, Space Odyssey, I have been encouraged to start working on a new clip for my next single.
We are still in the brainstorming phase but I can assure you it will be my best musical release to date!

1inmusic: Where do we find you music / music project?
IJK: You can stay updated on my music latest projects on my official website

www.imadjackkaram.com