LUMI (NUIT BLANCHE DE BYBLOS)
July 12, 2008 - 9:30 pm
Live with Malek Rizkallah (drums) and Tony Elieh (bass)
“Art is derived from our living existence, but it’s in fast-forward mode”
The name of Lumi originates from the French word “Lumière”, meaning light. “We wanted a name which had strength, did not sound pretentious, which signified something positive and bright for Lebanon.” It is meant to project enlightenment and brightness into lives which are otherwise gloomy and dull, due to the prevailing social and political situation in Lebanon.
Lumi are Marc Codsi and Mayaline Hage. Marc (born in 1979), a degree in Finance, and Mayaline (1982), a Masters in Clinical Psychology, both hail from Beirut, Lebanon, and are still living there today. Marc started playing guitar when he was 17, and has been the leading guitarist with Lebanese post-punk band Scrambled Eggs since the year 2001. In addition to his activities with Lumi and the Eggs, he produces and performs in more experimental guise, under the name Happy Melody. Marc is not one to recoil from an instrument or two! In fact, he is a master of many, including the bass, piano, drums, trumpet and keyboards. This intense proclivity can be heard throughout Lumi’s latest album, Two Tears in Water. Mayaline bought her first electric guitar when she was just 11 years old; she is however more proficient as a singer, although she still demonstrates her musical skills on the guitar in songs such as ‘Lilly’.
These two talents were brought together thanks to an improvised music workshop in 2002. They collaborated and worked with various artists before joining forces in 2005, and have been known as Lumi ever since. A natural synergy emerged between them, through a common desire for peace in the Middle East, and a passion to travel the world and create music that reflects their experiences and emotions. Marc: “We met at a party, where people were jamming. I was playing the guitar and Mayaline was too shy to sing, but she had a Cranberries tablature book with her. The encounter was inevitable.”
Marc and Mayaline share the same background in film, music and poetry.
They were raised on a steady diet of David Lynch films (whose atmosphere is very present in Lumi’s universe), Bergman, Tarkovsky, as well as the French Nouvelle Vague. Their early teenage years were informed by the music and lyrics of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, the post-rock and post-punk scene, and of course the electronic music scene, from its beginnings to its various directions today.
Their music is in their image, well-defined, elegant and charismatic. Lumi’s sound is characterized by its feminine, dynamic, sensual and provocative components, dramatically brought to life in their first single ‘Don’t F*** With My Cat’. The song’s video tells the story of two worlds brought together through real and fictional elements, via sarcastic and delirious music and lyrics. The song’s lyrics are anchored in the reality of Lebanon and the political climate from which its inhabitants have suffered for many years. It was filmed in 2006 under the direction of Sary Sehnaoui.
Lumi describe how living in Lebanon has influenced their music: “It puts you in a boiling microcosm. Lebanon is everything and its opposite, a country with a lot of contrasts and extremes. On a geographical level, this is visible in the music by the way rhythms and melodies are connected. For example, there is always a raw element mixed with a very polished one. It’s the same as when you walk in Beirut, you’d see a very old house with traditional old stones and next to it an attempt at the latest trend in architecture.”
Lumi’s debut album, entitled Two Tears in Water, will be released by EMI Arabia in the Middle East in May 2008. Two is representative of the two years it took to finish the album. The production was done in one month in Dusseldorf, Germany where Marc and Mayaline worked with top electronic producer Andi Toma (Mouse on Mars, Von Südenfed). The band had already recorded a rough draft of the album in their home studio in Beirut, before heading to Germany. There, they entered the studio with the aim to develop additional instrumental tracks, find interesting musical concepts and discover the common ground between all the songs; all of which carry their own history and meaning.
Although Lumi have been together for a relatively short time, they have already performed in Paris, Berlin, Beirut and Amman, and plan to tour Europe and the United States soon. They have acquired a record deal for their album, thanks to their rocking electro sounds falling on the receptive ears of one of the most eligible brand owners in the world, Sir Richard Branson. Marc and Mayaline composed and performed “On the Air” for Sir Richard in person, during the Virgin Radio launch in Dubai; the song is an exclusive, and was not featured on the album.
This is only the start of a very exciting journey for a new musical voice in Lebanon, and for those who connect with the eclectic sound of Lumi.