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Yazan Fahmawi, the born-and-raised New Yorker, with his long flowing hair and burly mustache, is creating music that is impossible not to love.
This musician will never pigeonhole himself when it comes to playing music. Sure, he’s released mostly solo blues records to date, with acoustic or electric guitar, but that isn’t all he’s capable of! He tells BTRtoday that he’s currently working on a record that includes a whole band set; he’s also practicing his rapping skills, and he’s dabbling in throat singing.
Is that a well-rounded musician, or what?
He has recently finished up a residency at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The plan was to play a completely different set every Monday for the entire month of April. He performed every week, but achieving a new sound for each gig proved to be more difficult than he anticipated.
“It’s always more work than I think it’s going to be and I bit off more than I could chew a little bit,” Yazan admits. “I did do some experiments live that I’d never done before.”
Even if he didn’t quite accomplish what he had originally set out for, his live sets are never lacking in energy or excitement. Yazan is known for expelling items of clothing while playing, dancing around, cracking jokes, and making sure the audience is always just as into the experience as he is.
“I feel the need to relate to the crowd in a personable way,” he explains. “It’s a collaboration between you and the audience and the energies feeding in both directions. It’s not just from the stage to the crowd, it’s vice-versa too.”
He imagines his perfect band would be one that consistently moves people, physically and mentally.
“That’s my dream, to have a party band, but that also knows how to play songs. That’s basically the ultimate band to me,” he envisions.
The shows at Pete’s Candy Store were very intimate due to the small stage area, which also made it difficult for him to move around and do his usual thing. That didn’t stop Yazan though! Between his touching lyrics and hip shaking melodies, he was able to connect with the audience by cracking jokes. He says that New York audiences have a tendency of sticking to head nods and not moving much else of themselves, but he claims he can get them shaking, even if it takes all night.
Photo courtesy of Yazan.
He confesses that Chicago crowds are his favorite.
“Chicago crowds are live,” he says. “They’re ready to cut lose.” He adds that crowds in Florida haven’t failed yet to go wild during his live sets, either.
That being said, New York is his home and heart. He grew up in Manhattan, right on 23rd St., smack-dab in the middle of it all. When he was 12-years-old his dad gave him a guitar and he started playing in bands. He was in a band called Mother Of Three, and it was greatly influenced by classic guitar-centric artists like Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, and The David Lee Roth Band. Yazan claims that during his young years as a musician he was mostly hiding behind the guitar.
“It was just trying to be certain things, instead of just being,” he articulates. “I was more of a coward for years.”
However, once he hit 30-years-old he had an epiphany! He claims he realized he wasn’t feeling fulfilled with the music he was making, and needed to put more heart into.
His most recent records, “Undress My Mind” and “Howlin’” show his true colors.
Album art courtesy of Yazan.
“If your mind is open you can see inspiration in everything,” Yazan says about his creative process. For the full-length album that he is currently working on, he dedicated two months to living in Boston to record it. He was there because his friend recently opened a studio and Yazan was able to be the first artist to record in it.
“You’re just in the studio all day with somebody pouring your guts out, and making mistakes, and experimenting,” Yazan explains about the recording process. “You grow very close very quickly or you learn to hate each other very quickly.”
He claims the lyrics are more personal and intimate this time around.
“I think ultimately you find your voice and you really express how you truly feel as oppose to just writing music you think other people want to hear,” Yazan says about the lyrical process. “The idea is both; it’s something you want to say and that people also want to hear.”
He explains himself as a musician simply using music as a tool to obtain his own happiness. Through music he is able to be true to himself, to just be, and to mature as a person. For example, he explains that it’s easy to forget to forgive yourself and others, but writing about it in his lyrics reminds him about that important task. He’s able to let go and love.
“I’ve learned it’s a great way to self-improve if you write lyrics that remind you each time of certain healthy truths,” he so wisely explains. “I’m never trying to tell people how to live their life, it’s just me expressing how to live my own life.”
Since his epiphany, what he strives for most in his music is to make his own life a happier one. He claims getting on stage, connecting with an audience, and sharing such private lyrics is therapeutic and forces him to grow.
Keep an ear open for what Yazan might be cooking up next—it’s likely to be right up your alley! If it isn’t, he’ll probably dabble in your favorite genre eventually, so he should be on your radar. Make sure to follow him on Instagram and check out his Facebook and Website to see where he’s playing next.