Talented Lebanese musician Karim Khneisser is redefining local music Thursday, December 18 at Theatre Montaigne. Those attending will not only get to enjoy the much-anticipated live performance, they’ll get to watch Karim work his magic on a rare Swiss instrument called the Hang Drum. Karim sat down with Beirut.com ahead of his performance to give us the scoop on everything from Beethoven to Pink Floyd, meditative instruments and the existential noise of contemporary "musicians."

Beirut.com: Imagine you're stranded on a desert island. You get to choose one song that plays on repeat forever. What would it be and why?
Karim: No song, I'd just enjoy the sound of the island.

Beirut.com: What inspires you?
Karim: That's a difficult one because everything inspires me. Whether it's good music, good movies, good storytelling, good soundtracks... basically anything that involves beautiful images and sounds can inspire me.

Beirut.com: What got you started in music? Have you always been passionate about it?
Karim: I've always been passionate about it like all musicians. When I was a kid, my brothers always used to put on cassettes of Beethoven, Mozart, Michael Jackson, and even Pink Floyd. Obviously that got me hooked, but the first time I saw a friend of my brother playing the guitar was when I really became fascinated with the idea of instruments and being able to create sounds.

Beirut.com: If you weren't a musician, what would you picture yourself doing?
Karim: I'd either be a mountain guide, or working in animation or illustration.

Beirut.com: What advice can you give to other striving musicians?
Karim: Be inspired, find your own style and don't copy other musicians. Don't do it for money or fame.

Beirut.com: I hear you can play just about any instrument. Which one do you prefer and why?
Karim: My favorite always changes. So at the moment I'd say the Hang Drum is my favorite, but surely in a few months I'll be more focused on another instrument. In general, I love all instruments that can be considered meditative.

Beirut.com: What made you want to learn how to play so many different instruments?
Karim: It's my curiosity about discovering different cultures that pushes me to find more instruments and learn how to play them.

Beirut.com: Is there a song you never get tired of playing?
Karim: No, I kind of get tired of all of them; I'm always striving for change.

Beirut.com: How do you feel the music industry has changed since you've started?
Karim: Well, I have to say I'm only at the start. However, I have noticed that music adapts to society. For example, nowadays everyone can be called a "musician", all you need to have is a laptop and some buttons with pre-recorded sounds and then suddenly before you know it, large crowds are going crazy over you. Before, it was more a case of the mass public appreciating the musicians who work hard on actual music and compositions.

Beirut.com: What are some of your personal and professional goals for the future?
Karim: I'd love to make music for video games, feature films, documentaries and, of course, work on my live performances. There are far too many things I want to do, but we'll just take it one step at a time.

Beirut.com: What can we expect at your performance?
Karim: I'll be playing various original compositions of different styles and I'm really fortunate to have some great musicians who will be accompanying me.

Karim performs tonight at Montaigne Theatre in the Institut Français du Liban building, facing Berytech Mathaf. Tickets are on sale at the door for $10. This concert is in collaboration with Beirut Jam Sessions and L'Institut Francais. Stop by and enjoy some wine and great music!

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