Interview: Mashrou’ Leila Reveals Secrets Behind Their Music, World Tour, And Their Collaboration With Greenpeace


Mashrou’ Leila is a band with a very distinctive sound, marked by the unique voice of their vocalist Hamed Sinno and Haig’s violin solos in their songs. With their latest music video Roman, they took over social media and the attention from the world, hoping for a positive change.

We managed to get an up close look on your favourite band’s ideas, views and upcoming plans.

Q1 Your latest music video Roman was the talk of social media in the past months. Although there have been lots of explanations about the meaning behind the video, many people still cannot link it with the lyrics. How would you explain it?

Roman is a song that we started writing about 5 years ago, and it underwent several changes until the release, the song was initially conceived as a dialogue between 2 people, one who has betrayed the other. With several allusions to moments of betrayals. The core of the song, is the chorus, which fizzles down to one work “alayhom” a call to action. It was this word that director Jessy Moussallem latched on to. Her vision was one of female empowerment, a video where the band literally takes a back seat.

Q2- Due to the fact that you sing about different topics, you got banned in Jordan twice. Would you go there if you had the chance to get invited for a third time?

At this point, we have received a ban from the minister of interior, even after having acquired all neccessary permits and documents to conduct a concert. There would need to be a massive change in the political outlook of the Jordanian Government for us to be able to go again.

Q3- Which album did you enjoy working on the most?

We always think our most recent album is the best one, so, naturally, Ibn El Leil, for now.

Q4- Speaking of Ibn El Leil, the album seems to be hugely inspired by Greek mythology. What is the secret or the reason behind this inspiration?

Yes, during the writing and conceptualization of the album, we returned constantly to the images of Mythology, Greek or other. I guess it started from a feeling from the music as it was being written. This idea permeates the entire album, lyrically and visually. We thought drawing links between cultural practices then and now would be interesting and indicative of the cyclical nature of human vice and desire.

Q5- According to the fact that you have been touring in Europe and the Americas, have you ever thought about writing songs in English so your music would be more understandable for the people there?

We have thought about writing in English, but it was never a question of understanding, it was a question of us wanting to communicate something specifically for an english speaking audience. We do not like the idea of re-writing our songs for marketing purposes. We also really admire the persistence of people who do not speak arabic, to delve into the song, and in doing so, generate a relationship with the language that might not have occurred otherwise.

Q6- Besides music and touring you also take part in social impacting activities, so tell us more about Greenpeace and why you think it’s important.

We have been lucky to attain the success we have, and that has provided us with a platform with which we are able to reach, to a certain degree, a large audience. And we think there is a sort of responsibility to support the ideas that we believe in, and that are generally already a large part of our music. The campaigns we have participated in with Greenpeace form a part of the environmental concern that we have been having, especially in the face of detractors and disbelievers of late. We think it is impossible to survive under the current habits of consumption and destruction that we have, and Greenpeace have been not only active in attempting to stop these habits, but also in providing alternatives for conscious living.

Q7- Do you take part in another campaign  than this?

We do, we are quite active individuals in our private lives and we support causes and movements that we think can have a positive effect on our environment. Be it social, political, environmental or other.
Q8- Are you working on some new music?

We are in fact writing material for our next project, it is still taking shape but we are quite excited to be back at it.