I walk into the studio and see a bunch of people chilling around some music equipment. They are dressed in casuals, having a conversation, with an air of coolness hung around them. I don’t know what to expect from my interview, but I do know this, that had I been in college these would be the kids I would want to hang out with.
Here’s a snippet from the conversation I had with them on music, society and networking in general and their band in particular. If you are not yet acquainted to the Kuwaiti music scene, then ‘The Hashtags’ are a band you should start with. If you are acquainted to the music scene, but haven’t heard of them, then you haven’t heard enough.
Band Member Profiles:
Moustafa Hassan: Lead Guitarist. Master of Sarcasm. One half of the twin set that comes with the band.
Mohammed Hassan: Drummer. Deep Thinker. The other half of the twin set.
Nassma Kordahji: Lead Vocalist. Spirited. The one who makes the guys look better.
Mahmoud ‘7oudster’ Kamel: Vocals and Rhythm Guitar. Man of few words.
Ahmad Nadar: Bassist. Silent Spectator. Newest addition to the band.
ST (Studentalk): What’s in the name? Why is your band called ‘The Hashtags’?
The Hashtags (#):We had already played quite a lot of shows, and people were requesting us for gigs. One of them was a TV show and the host needed to introduce us, and this is what we came up with at the spur of the moment; creative thinking under pressure, and it stuck with us. We are not great at coming up with names in general, and we still have loads of songs that haven’t been titled yet. But any suggestions are welcome!
ST: How did you guys get together?
#: Mohammed and Moustafa are twins, so they have been sharing the same space and music since their inception. Nassma is a really close friend with a beautiful voice so she was a natural part of the selection. Mahmoud and Ahmad, they make great music and we shared the same ideologies. That’s how it all happened. To put it simply, the music binds us.
ST: What kind of music do you make?
#: We have very different tastes in music. Moustafa likes The Doors and Led Zeppelin, Mohammed’s most recent obsession is Deep Purple, Nassma’s idols are Nina Simone and Janis Joplin while Ahmad is all about Progressive Rock and Metal; Mahmoud is a Punk Rock kinda guy.
The music we make is a mix of all our likes and affinities. We can’t really pin it down to one genre, it is a mélange of all of our music infused into one song. If you listen closely, you’d still hear each preferred genre in the respective person’s instrument. Let’s just say we make good music.
ST: Why do you think people like your music?
#: Ummm…. Because we are awesome! Our passion for music radiates through everything we do, we grab every opportunity we have to excel and improve at performing because we want to enjoy it, and we want people to enjoy it as well. Each of our songs has a message that people can relate to. Plus we put on a good show, or at least we think so…
ST: Your comments on the Kuwaiti music scene and the challenges for musicians in our market?
#The Kuwaiti music scene is a challenging environment. There aren’t enough venues in which to practice, the instruments are hard to obtain, music production is particularly challenging and to add to the mix you can never make enough money here, to be able to sustain yourself with just your music. You have to have a main job and then your music. If you decide to quit everything, well then financially speaking, there is poverty in your near future.
ST: What to you is the most rewarding thing about making music?
#: As a band that mainly does live performances, it’s the rush that the stage gives you. Plus watching people react to your music is always very special.
ST: Kuwait, social media and networking. Your comments.
#: People operate in cliques here, so generally, you will see the same 100 people at every event. It’s difficult to attract new audiences because marketing is costly, musicians are sometimes poor and everyone wants everything to be exclusive. We have mainly been using social media to spread the word. In a world as connected as ours, there are endless channels to put yourself out there.
Others who have a larger audience online usually tend to talk about the latest shade of lipstick rather than art, culture or societal issues. But it’s not all bad, Al Gas Events has helped a lot in getting the word out there, and there’s a visible increase in awareness about music nowadays.
ST: Any parting words to young musicians out there?
#: You can be the best musician in the world, but it isn’t going to happen if you don’t practice. Music is an art that takes time, effort and your heart and soul to build. So find your voice, share your music with people, the ones who understand it and the one who don’t, because feedback and networking is key to this business.
Other than that, all the best!
You can follow The Hashtags on instagram @hashtagskw