The Arab world is dense and lush with musical talent – from experimentations with sound and materials to produce music, to rappers documenting violence and politics through their tracks, there is always something new to be found and heard.
But the support for Arab artists is often lacking. Artists do their best to help other artists, but musical collectives in the Arab world are often few and small, making it difficult for them to meet the large-scale need.
Chermine Haidar and Effat Ammar had other ideas. As two music enthusiasts, supporters, and listeners in the scene, they saw a gap in the local and regional scene when it came to collaborative artistic work. So with little more than drive and motivation, they launched their independent music collective, Yatazamkan.
Yatazamkan is an independent music collective that seeks to create opportunities for local and regional artists. The two co-founders came together to link upcoming and thriving artists with potential opportunities.
In their own words, Yatazamkan is “a creator and facilitator of opportunities. These opportunities are tailored to what the artist lacks, and can range from creative direction, content creation, production, event planning, artist management, or just guiding and consulting.”
“Knowing that we can bring something to the table as Yatazamkan for these local and regional artists in a region that has long provided little to no institutional support to this field is in itself fulfilling. The artists we have worked with so far have been inspiring and have welcomed us as new faces in the scene with full support. This alone has driven us to want to give more and keep going despite challenges,” the duo said.
The collective first launched in February 2023, when they collaborated with Beirut & Beyond International Music Festivial and Scumweek to host Haykal and Big Murk at KED Beirut. This would be the artists’ debut concert in Lebanon. The event also featured DJs Muhandas and Abou Ismail.
Since then, Yatazamkan has co-organized three chit-chat sessions with Riwaq Beirut and others. The sessions take place in Riwaq’s space, where artists come together to discuss music, their careers, and their experiences with other artists.
Haykal, El-Rass, The Synaptik, Chyno, El Waili and Nadine Helmy are the artists who were a part of previous sessions.
Yet, as is the case wth every independent and new entity in Lebanon, they’re working through financial difficulties. The lack of any kind of support or funds means that oftentimes, collectives such as Yatazamkan have to work tirelessly to hit the same basic markers: keep events affordable for the public, and pay artists appropriately.
In many cases, this often means that independent collectives and organisations have to take a hit financially in order to fulfill these goals.
But, in spite of these challenges, Yatazamkan still has extensive future plans. They’re currently planning an upcoming concert for a regional artist, whose name remains undisclosed, in July. This comes in addition to many more chit-chat sessions to take place in Riwaq Beirut.
Their plans don’t stop there. Aside from organising events and chit-chat sessions, Yatazamkan are finalising a long-term collaboration with Big Sea Production to direct and produce content for various artists, including music videos, social media campaigns, cover arts, and more.
In a year, Haidar and Ammar want Yatazamkan to be “a blooming music collective with various music videos, other productions, and events under its belt. We also see ourselves working on a big regional music festival.” The list of artists they’d love to work with is endless, but includes some names that will be familiar to many, such as Donia Wael, Muqataa, Shabjdeed, Al Nather, Khotta BA, Bey Kay, and more.