Mark this on your calendar: on March 27th, Bedouin are expanding their horizons as DJs and producers and are venturing into a new, exciting project. That day, in addition to releasing their new EP, Whistleman, they’re also launching their record label, Human By Default. What can we expect from it? In-between a packed schedule bringing them to Madrid, Las Vegas and Miami, we get together with Rami Abousabe and Tamer Malki to know more about their thoughts on spirituality, music as a universal language and their creative process as a duo.
The figure of the bedouin comes from Arab culture, and it refers to the people leading a nomadic life in the desert. How do you personally relate to bedouins beyond your familiar/cultural background? Were you aiming to become successful DJs and travel non-stop since the beginning of your career together?
Rami: I’ve always accepted myself to be a ‘passenger of life’ in the sense that I try not to control things too much and follow the wind so to speak – in a way of surrendering to everything that happens and understanding that you’re always where you are supposed to be. And yes, since as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of travelling the world to share my music.
Tamer: I grew up in Jordan surrounded by bedouins and the bedouin culture. So, having a nomadic life and being constantly on the move playing and sharing our music is how I think we relate. As for the second part of your question, yes. I’ve never worked in anything besides music… yet. I always knew it would be a major part of my life.
But you haven’t always been DJs and producers. Rami, if I’m not wrong, you are/were a musician. Tamer, I’ve had a hard time finding your background. When did your paths cross, and when did you decide to join forces and become a duo?
Rami: Yes, from a young age, I participated in the school choir and learned to play the guitar, which led me to pay most attention to a psychedelic rock sort of tortured artist curriculum. It wasn’t until later in college when I discovered more sophisticated electronic music that inspired me enough to hang up the guitar for a while and learn to produce music electronically.
Tamer: I actually have been DJing since the age of 15 and I started making music around the age of 18. I play the percussion, some keyboards and write melodies. Spent my college years in Boston, where I went to school, played at local clubs weekly, organized parties and spent endless hours in my little studio. Right before Bedouin started, I released under my name two original EPs, which was right around the time Rami and I met through mutual friends and started getting in the studio together. At that time, I was slowly making my move to New York and spending more time there, which resulted in us making a bunch of music. And that was the start.
I feel spirituality plays an important role in your music. Would you agree? How does your spirituality affect and influence the way you work as well as the work itself – so your creative process but also your live and DJ sets, albums, etc.?
Rami: I feel it’s helpful as humans in general that we understand our own insignificance as individuals, but rather we understand the significance of the universe as a whole. I feel it helps us to truly live in the moment without being so concerned about the future. This is important for the creative process because you can let go of the outcome and fall in love with the process itself.
Tamer: Yes, I agree. For me, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than us, and it’s also living in harmony with everything around us. Making music is all about being present and totally immersed in the moment. Being there internally and externally, you harness energy during the creative process, which translates and connect with listeners on many levels.
Is there any ritual you perform before playing a set? Or is there anything you do to prepare yourselves emotionally before performing?
Rami: I like to listen to music all the way up to our set – sort of getting my head in the game. 99% of the work in playing a good set is in the preparation. Actually, playing the set becomes more of a celebration. Tamer: I try to keep quiet for a bit and save my energy; not surround myself with loud music or noise as much as I can. Depending on where I am about to play, I usually organise my music and thoughts a few hours before set time.
Your rise to fame has been quite fast. You joined forces in 2012, and right after that, you were playing at Burning Man. After that, many other opportunities came, and a residence in Ibiza established you as the next big thing. Was there any specific moment where you felt you were finally ‘making it’? That you were on the right path?
Rami: There were definitely a few moments that felt defining of our career let’s say. Doing the essential mix for Pete Tong and getting our first Ibiza residency I would say are at the top of that list.
Tamer: I think that moment comes anytime when we see people reacting positively to our music, whether coming to our shows or listening and supporting our music in any way.
How do you value success? What does it mean to you?
Rami: Success, of course, is directly related to your goals and desires. I feel it is a lifelong journey when it comes to success, or any feeling of content when it comes to our musical goals.
Tamer: Any moment our music makes anyone feel good in any way is a moment of success.
With your music, you travel the world. But you were also resident DJs in Ibiza with your Saga party. Do you feel that an experience like that sort of gives you stability? Or does it anchor you somehow?
Rami: Yes, an Ibiza residency can expose you to most of the world in one summer alone.
Tamer: It does in a way. Ibiza is a destination island, which makes it special in the sense that people from all corners of the world come visit weekly.
When changing cities/countries but playing similar sets, have you noticed many differences in the audience? Or is music so universal that it doesn’t matter where you are playing, people react the same way?
Rami: For sure, there are some differences in the way people party from one country to the next. The music, on the other hand, I do find to be more of a universal language that everyone can understand.
Tamer: This is what’s so beautiful about music, it really does unite people. It’s a language that everyone can understand.
Currently, the United States isn’t that ‘land of dreams’ many people thought of. With Trump as president, bigotry and racism have increased unstoppably, being the Hispanic and the Islamic/Arab populations some of the most targeted – in addition to African-Americans, of course. Being American citizens whose families come from Egypt and Jordan, what’s your take on the current political climate? Have you personally felt more threatened, or do you feel you’re more aware or fearful on the streets, for example?
Rami: On the one hand, we don’t spend so much time in the US these days, but yes, it’s certainly concerning given our current president and office.
Tamer: Personally, no, I have no fear nor I've ever felt threatened. I believe that the current times we face can be an opportunity for major positive change – for more awareness, education, compassion and understanding. I believe that this can only start from within each and every one of us.
Your hypnotic, mystical sets spread messages of love, acceptance, respect, and communion – with humans as well as with nature. Do you believe in the power of music to change the world? Is there any political intention/goal behind what you do?
Rami: Yes, music can be very powerful because it can bring the world together in a way that it would not be able to otherwise.  It’s also a powerful form of meditation that can be very important for your health.
Tamer: Yes, music can change the world and make it a better place because it brings people together and knows no race, age, nationality or religion. For me, as an artist, politics have no place in what I do.
Bedouin Metalmagazine 1.jpg