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Arie Amaya-Akkermans 08 Jun 2015

Call It a Comeback: Electro-Pop Project Lumi Returns After Five-Year Hiatus

In 2005, a crucial moment for contemporary culture in Beirut, Marc Codsi, one of the veteran members of the Lebanese underground teamed up with the glamorous voice of Mayaline Hage to form Lumi, an electro-pop project with influences from rock and glam and punk. The group quickly gained traction in Beirut with their anti-memory discourse pregnant with sad humor and irony. It was a moment in local musical history that truly spoke to the mood of Beirut in the post-2005 era.

They began performing in different venues in the city and in 2007 they released a self-produced EP, including the song “Not Our War”, written and recorded during the Israeli invasion in 2006. Later, they signed with EMI Arabia and produced a second album in Europe, ‘Two Tears in Water’, released in 2008, and after which, in line with the uncertainties of life in Lebanon, they couldn’t leave the country to perform in Dubai because of gun fighting in the city that led to the closure of the airport.

(Photo Credit: Joumana Brihi)

In this complicated imbalance, out of which Lumi feeds, though relatively well known, they disappeared from the scene in 2010 and Codsi began working on other solo projects. But Lumi has returned to the scene with a number of new tracks and performed recently in Beirut at a concert during Common Fest on May 7.

Beirut.com spoke to Lumi about their come-back, concerts and the project of a new album.

Beirut.com: What was the idea behind coming back?

Codsi: In 2010, things got into a deadlock with Lumi and I left Beirut to settle in Montreal. Circumstances made me come back in 2013 and one day my car broke down on the highway. Mayaline came and helped me out. We talked and I felt we both evolved to a new point in life that would be interesting to confront musically, and that is how it started.

Beirut.com:How was the Common Fest concert like and do you have any plans for a tour?

Codsi: It was the first concert in four years so it was quite intense and emotional for us, especially to see that big crowd gathering to hear the new material. Our next concert will be in Beirut on July 10, and then some European dates in October, and then the adventure continues.

Beirut.com: What makes this project different from what Lumi did last time around?

Codsi:First, we’re not the same people we were in 2005 when we started Lumi. The country isn’t same, nor the general atmosphere. Everything is getting crazier, and I’m not sure people are realizing that. Today we’re interested in doing something more intimate, more authentic, and also more free and more dangerous. We want to take risks, that’s why we play all the music live on stage and having only two of us is a real challenge.

Mayaline Hage: What really excites us in our new live configuration is to really share an intimate experience with our audience, a musical space and time continuum in which emotions, future, past and present memories are being addressed, and put out there.

(Photo Credit: Myriam Boulos)

Beirut.com:Over a decade after its inception, where is the Lebanese underground and what does it mean today?

Codsi: The underground had a meaning in the early 2000s. At the time, there were no logistics and no infrastructure for a music scene. Anything a performer wanted to do, he had to create himself. So every concert was an event, there was a lot of uncertainty; it was very exciting. Now there are many more musicians and performers, and things got codified. Most of the elements of a music industry like managers, venues, promoters, journalists, sponsors are there, so it’s hard to talk about an underground anymore. I think the underground is happening now in other places like Tripoli.

Beirut.com:Will there be a full album/release?

Codsi:We want to record an album this summer. We have a lot of new material and we are looking for the best place to do it, so hopefully it will be ready in the fall.