Ziad Sader, 23, and Hussein Kameh, 25, met back in 2008 during a jam session at an open studio space in Hazmieh. You could say their band, Kameh, was the natural outcome of their subsequent sessions playing together. With Ziad on bass and Hussein on drums and vocals, the band is currently working on their first album, “Gherfet En’ash," or "Recovery Room."

The two guys of Kameh - both from villages in Nabatiyeh, South Lebanon - don't just make music for the sake of music; they use their voices to speak to the often harsh realities happening around them. When a historical place like Sakhret el Nadour in Ziad’s hometown of Ain Ebel was signed off for a rock mining project, the band released a song about it. When the southern village of Wadi Yaroun was being used as a garbage dump site, a song by the same name came to life.

Beirut.com had the chance to sit down with the duo at the studio they share with Palestinian hip hop group Katibe 5 on Abd Nour Street in Dahiyeh. Take a look:

Beirut.com: So why “Kameh”? Not your everyday band name, that’s for sure!
Ziad: Kameh, the Arabic word for "wheat" - is a key ingredient in our daily lives. If you have grain, you can survive.

Beirut.com: And that’s what music is to you, an essential part for your survival?
Ziad: Exactly, it’s my way to express ideas and project myself to the audience. As a bassist, it gives me a sense of freedom - especially with the genres that we cover; you can produce feelings from a musical piece that really reach the listeners.

Beirut.com: What inspired you to become a musician?
Hussein: I took my first music class at school back when I was 11. They only taught the flute so I had no other option. My brother bought me my first acoustic guitar as a gift on my fifteenth birthday, and that led me to discover more genres. I had no teacher at that time and no one to help me learn the proper techniques. YouTube and easy internet access was not yet available. My teachers often complained when I'd try to create rhythms and patterns on the tables using pens and barbecue sticks during class. At 18, and after a lifetime of savings, I bought my first drum set.

Beirut.com: What genres do you play?
Ziad: At first we played cover tracks and they were mainly reggae with some blues and jazz tunes. But we started working on originals, and from there became more interested in jazz and a sort of fusion with funk and oriental music. As for the lyrics, they are all in spoken Arabic, perhaps displaying an attachment to our roots and, in a way, bringing us closer to the audience.

Hussein: A skilled Jazz musician interprets tunes in individual ways, which results in the same composition never being played exactly the same way twice. Harmonies melodies or the time signature might change depending on the musician’s mood and interaction with other musicians or even members of the crowd.

Beirut.com: What about this studio? How did you guys end up here?
Hussein: We had different ideas about building our own studio before but the time was never right and we faced a lot of obstacles. I got a call from Osloob the producer for the Palestinian hip hop group, Katibe 5, asking me about my music progression and if I was in for a studio project.

What first started out as an empty space for Katibe 5 members to hang out and practice, over time grew into an actual studio project. Katibe gave our music the spirit of hip hop and rap, and we in turn gave them the spirit of blues and jazz.

Osloob has been more than a good friend to us - helping out the band in all ways possible.

Beirut.com: So all the work is done here?
Ziad: Yes basically, from recording to editing, composing, producing and mastering. We also spend a great deal of time experimenting with instruments, jamming for fun, sharing ideas and collaborating with other musicians.

Along with their work in progress, Kameh has also teamed up with Abou Gabi to add a pinch of jazz and funk to his Sufi style, alongside Syrian Oud Player Muhannad Naser. The result is the beautiful single, Ya Hobb. They also produced Gabi's album, Hijaz Harb.

To find out more about Kameh, check out their YouTube Channel and Facebook page, and get a sample of the sounds they're working on on Soundcloud.

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