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Bahraini singer, song writer, musician and producer Ala Ghawas is set to serenade his fans and music lovers across the globe following the release of his new album Tryst.
The 36-year-old, known for his ‘haunting lyrics and raspy voice’, started his Tryst tour with a first stop in Kuwait. He will also be performing in Dubai, Beirut and Berlin to promote the recording which features 10 tracks and collaborations with 13 of the kingdom’s top musicians and entertainers.
And unlike other albums, his has stepped back in time by producing an LP (for young readers, that’s a long-playing vinyl to be placed on a record player). Many music- connoisseurs prefer the sounds of an analog record rather than a digital delivery and there has been a recent resurgence in the market for vinyl recordings. He also has it featured on CD and online.
Ala lives in Barbar, works as a marketing executive for telecoms company VIVA Bahrain, and records in his own studio. He said: “Tryst is a bold album; starting with the album cover that was painted by Bahraini artist Abbas Al Mosawi and ending with the way it was recorded!
“My sound engineer, Abdulla Jamal, helped make the record sound old, raw and vintage without compromising on the production quality. It sounded like an album from the 1970s and that’s what inspired me to release it as an LP too.
“I had the title Tryst for a long a time and I knew it would be the title for my next record. I started putting the songs together in 2016 and then I almost spent the entire following year recording it.
“I’m excited about the tour. I’ve performed before in Bahrain, Cairo and Dubai, but this time it feels more special because I really believe in this record and I feel it’s going to connect with people.”
The album features a constellation of stars from the Bahrain independent music scene including Mohammed Haddad, Ahmed AlQasim, Abdulrahman Malallah, Khalid Alshamlan, Ali Al Qaseer, Faisal Sheikh, Abdulla Haji, Mohammed Rashid, Fawaz Al Shaikh, Hameed Al Saeed, Ali Malik and Eman Haddad.
“All these names are actually very close friends of mine and that made the record more special because I got to make it with so much love and support,” said Ala. “I think it’s my most self-assured record to date. I finally managed to get the sound I’ve always wanted and imagined in a record … but it took the experience I gained from the previous recordings to be able to produce something as matured as Tryst.
“I guess my style was developed over the years but mainly it’s mellow, theatrical and poetic with a heavy use of layers of vocals and live strings. That’s why I would categorise my music now as ‘chamber pop’. It’s very hard to pick one song and I honestly love them all. I’m very proud of them. I play all 10 songs in all my live performances now alongside older songs of mine. Venus might be the one song that can truly represent the album as a whole. It serves as the heart of the record.”
This is Ala’s seventh album since he started his musical career and says he was born with a passion for music. He started playing the accordion when he was only eight and later moved onto keyboards, piano and finally guitar.
Ala said: “I grew up listening to various genres of music starting with Arabic legend Fairuz and Abdulhaleem Hafeth at home before rocking along at the age of 13 with Pink Floyd and The Eagles.”
His passion for music changed drastically in 2000 when he was introduced to the sounds of Jackson Browne, an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums, coming to prominence in the 1970s with songs such as These Days, The Pretender and Running on Empty.
Ala said: “As soon as I entered college, I started listening to singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and many others. That’s when the notion of song-writing captivated me. Jackson’s music made me obsessed with the process of constructing a song – the lyrics, the hooks, the structure and the arrangements.
“That’s when I learned that writing a good song doesn’t necessarily, or only, depend on how great I could be as a pianist or a guitarist. A good song demands thought, poetry, conceptualisation and imagination from the artist.
“Jackson and Jeff Buckley are two artists that I idolise. They speak to me in a lot of ways. Now singing and music offers me a venue to express myself. I have documented my life in the form of songs and I’m very proud of that.”
Ala graduated from the University of Bahrain in 2003 with an honour BSc degree in Management Information Systems and then he did his masters in Advertising at Emerson College, Boston, after winning the Fulbright scholarship.
“In 2006, I took song-writing very seriously during my time in Boston and that’s where I recorded and released my debut album Hums the following year,” added Ala. “I spent a lot of time gigging alone and busking in the subway stations of Boston.”
In 2008, he launched Whispers on EP and Screams on EP in 2009. Then in 2011 Live From Muharraq was released followed by Armor in 2013 in LP, Live From Allston in 2015 and now Tryst which was launched in November 2017.
Ala said: “I spent almost three years performing with my friends, the Bahraini band Likwid, right after releasing my fifth album Armor and we had a number of memorable performances as Ala Ghawas & Likwid at Bahrain Fort (2014), Dubai (2014), Bahrain Shopping Festival (2015) and Cairo Jazz Festival (2016). I’ve also filmed an entire musical movie with them entitled Ala Ghawas & Likwid: Live from Allston and it was premiered in the cinema here in Bahrain.”
Ala recently joined Likwid as a guest during the band’s Spring of Culture show at Bahrain Bay along with other artists for the acclaimed Likwid & Friends Experience. He performed a song from his new album and was delighted to be part of the event.
But now it’s time to concentrate on delivering his own unique show at home and abroad.
Tryst is available digitally online on Apple Music, Spotify, Anghami, Amazon and Google Play to name a few priced at $9.99. People can pick up the CD at BD6 and vinyl costing BD12 at Amazon.com or in Virgin Megastore at City Centre Bahrain, in Dubai and Beirut and in Euphoria in Seef Mall in Seef. To find out more, visit https://www.alaghawas.com/epk