Hamdan Al Abri recently performed at an Earth Hour initiative in Abu Dhabi
The now-famous musician Hamdan Al Abri burst onto the UAE music scene in 2007 when Abri, the soul band formed by Hamdan and Julian Symes in 2005, released their first ever album. Sunchild composed of 12 tracks.
The widely acclaimed album paved the way for Abri to the forefront of the UAE music scene as they would continue to perform in concert halls across the country and their songs were widely played on local radio stations. .
In 2009, Julian and drummer Andre Atherley returned home and, as Hamdan points out, the band went on hiatus. It was then that Hamdan’s solo career came to light. His self-titled five-track debut solo EP was released in 2011. It garnered huge praise from the music industry.
A whole decade and several performances later, Hamdan took part in the inaugural Living Room Live event, held at W Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, on March 26 to celebrate Earth Hour, an initiative where only candles lit the room.
“I love the Earth Hour concert initiative,” Hamdan told the City Times. “We need more initiatives like this, anything that raises awareness to help our land.”
Hamdan, who has shared the stage with international artists such as Kanye West, Mika, Joss Stone and Ziggy Marley, among others, treated fans to his greatest hits with his soulful vocals. His music sees influences as diverse as samba, jazz, soul, R&B and swing, all under an accessible pop veneer. And it was obvious when Hamdan sang a cover of Childish Gambino It smells like summer during the live performance.
We caught up with the artist to talk music, the pandemic and more after his concert.
Legendary Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins recently passed away. Favorite works of his?
It’s always sad to hear that someone has passed away. Condolences and prayers to his family and friends. I grew up with Foo Fighters and really like their previous albums. Taylor lives in the music he was a part of.
In your opinion, where is the rock musical genre going?
I know the airwaves are dominated by pop, hip-hop and afrobeats music right now but the genres keep coming back and forth. I feel like that’s what happens with rock music. There is still great rock music being made and will continue to be made. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Will it enjoy the glory days of the 70s and 80s through to the 90s? Has pop music now relegated all other forms of music to the background?
I don’t think any genre is going back to its glory days. That’s how it goes. Genres change and evolve over time. I love it when genres merge and mix to form something new and fresh. It happens a lot these days.
Can you make a living doing just rock music these days or do you have to get involved in other genres as well?
I think you can make a living doing rock music, you just have to put the music in the spotlight using social media, live shows and standing out. Mixing it with other genres is always nice to do as long as it’s not forced.
How has Covid affected you?
It affected me emotionally and mentally. It was a very difficult time for everyone. I haven’t really worked for almost two years. But what helped me out was seeing how well my country handled the crisis. It inspired me to get up and keep going, to help wherever I can, to refocus and get things done. The last two years have really changed my perspective and my way of thinking in a positive way.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m always working on new music. I think this time I want to be more organized to finish and release the music properly.
Any special Ramadan-themed projects you are working on?
I don’t really have any Ramadan-themed plans. Ramadan is a time of prayer, meditation, sharing and self-reflection.
You have collaborated with many popular artists. Who’s next?
This year, I do not intend to collaborate with artists. I will focus on my own projects.
What is one inspiring thing you take away from the history of the UAE?
The main inspiring thing I take from the history of the United Arab Emirates is to always dream big, never give up on those dreams, and achieve those dreams with hard work and patience.