The independent music scene of Jordan
By Hani Obaidat and Cesilia Faustina
Photography by Hani Obaidat
Jordan has been known for its traditional music scene. Sharing similar sounds with neighbouring countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia. The music scene now, however, is shifting towards a mix of western finesse, thus the new breed of Jordan’s independent music.
Collaborating a mix of Eastern and Western culture, Jordan has grown to create a new sound of ‘indie’ music. From the classic rock to the trans-pop, you can find an array of sound located amongst Jordanian youths.
With this knowledge in mind, Nur Alfayez decided to set up her very own business to support the Jordan music industry, along with her passion to sing and write music.
Nur Alfayez is a Jordanian entrepreneur, singer-songwriter and the founder of a platform for community startup bands.
Raised in a typical Jordanian family, music has never been a priority in her community.
“I was raised by a family who was not very ‘musical’, so I did not learn any musical instruments from a young age,” she said.
Still, from a young age, Nur taught herself to sing and write music despite the lack of support.
“When I was 24 I got my first job and when I got my first paycheck I decided to go to the Music Conservatory and learn the violin,” she said.
“Then I realized that my real passion is songwriting.”
The arts and entertainment industry in Jordan continues to lack with only around 0.3 percent of employment according to a UNDP 2010 report.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the informal sector makes up only 26 percent of the Jordanian economy.
Though an industry that is not well-supported within the market, however, there seemed to be greater interests amongst the younger generation.
As a music lover, Nur decided to surround herself with more people that are also active in the area. This led her to a fellow friend and music lover Fahed where they decided to create Feesheh.
Feesheh, established in 2012, is an online store for musical instruments and pro-audio equipment targeting Arab musicians.
Due to the lack of investment within the music industry, it was fairly difficult to find musical supplies and instruments for artists in Jordan.
The local artist eventually took a back seat from Feesheh in 2016 to focus on other areas in the music industry.
“Start-up band is an event for musicians to connect and network. To create bands and write lyrics and perform in front of an audience,” Nur said.
“We had four successful events in Jordan and Cairo and now we are working on expanding it and doing it in Turkey.”
Start-up band Amman was established in 2015 as an initiative conducting events to connect musicians and help them start their bands.
The Start-up Band founder said she came up with the idea after realising the need for networking.
She wanted to bring talented and passionate people from different countries and culture, to put them in one room and jam together. Combining different ideas and sounds to create originality.
Making a difference
Nur felt there were not enough recognition for local artists. She said many artists everywhere did not receive the respect they deserved and that “it was time to shed the light on talent.”
Aside from bringing start-up bands together, the last event of Startup Band had a different angle in Turkey.
Focusing more on refugees, she worked with İmece Vakti a program by Habitat and UNHCN to create a space for refugees living in Turkey to showcase their talent and integrate them within the Turkish musical community.
“It actually gave the initial concept that we had another dimension as most of the bands had members who did not speak the same language; with Turkish, Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi and Persian musicians in same bands,” she said.
“We attempt to integrate refugees with the Turkish community.”
In an attempt to make local artists thrive, Nur felt positive about the growth of the independent music industry and Jordan’s future.
“It’s a chance to shed some light on talents that are hidden,” Nur added.
Nur Alfayez is an entrepreneur and singer-songwriter that owns her own start-up Start-up Band Amman. Start-up Band Amman focuses on creating events for new local bands to connect, network and perform in front of an audience. Nur believed in creating a community for musicians to support and collaborate with each other. She hoped it would bring communities together.
For more information about Start-up Band, check out their Facebook page.