Interview with 7MND

Hamandi is a guitarist, singer and producer from Bahrain, who intricately weaves metal & electronic music.

Yara Berjawi

1/6/202310 min read

Morethanindie: Hamad, thank you for joining me today! We were talking earlier about how each of us got into their creative journeys. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came into the world of music.

7MND: Where do I start? I mean, I always had a fascination with music, ever since I was a kid. There are like weird pictures of me with my head directly into a speaker haha. I got into nu metal bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, and stuff like that ever since I was really young. I always liked exploring different genres. I was really fascinated by songs, how they worked, and I always tried to deconstruct and/or add things to them. And then, you know, the easiest instrument to get into music is a guitar, and my brother bought me a starter guitar. It was a Yamaha starter guitar, and since then it's been a journey upwards. I started writing songs ever since. God forbid anyone hears them now… I started my production journey at 18, and I wasn't as serious as I am about it now, but I wanted to put out music that sounded good, and I wanted to put out full songs. So, I got myself an interface and a DAW and just never stopped. Before that, I used to release really cheesy acoustic folky-songs and they're hidden on my SoundCloud, haha!

Morethanindie: Hahaha, those are nice as well!

7MND: I mean, I appreciate that kind of stuff, just not the ones that I did (and they will never see the light of day haha) But yea other than being a producer and mixing engineer, my day job is in IT. I appreciate that my day job supplements my side job.

Morethanindie: So, with your latest EP, it's very clear there's one identity, maybe. Not to say one defined musical style, or genre, but you can feel an identity. Would you consider this portrays you as an individual, or would you say that's some sort of a persona you put into your music?

7MND: I feel like it's me, or at least how I sound, feel, and look in my head. And a lot of it I started writing back in 2019. There's so much more music that I'm sitting on right now that I feel better represents who I am now. But a lot of people have told me they can really feel that my style or sound is present in the EP, and how what I wrote back in the day (Behemyth, Days, Amuse) blends in stylistically with what I'm doing now. So I would say - yes - there is an identity.

I like to tackle bodies of work with concepts. I love concept albums and EPs, and I'm attracted to work that has a narrative to it. I wanted to do something like that for this EP. I guess there are motifs and underlying themes based on what I feel or felt during the writing process. I don't know if I'm taking myself out of the EP and handling it like it's its own separate thing, because it stems from personal experiences, but I'm not talking about my personal experiences, but rather telling the story of a character.

I like to tackle bodies of work with concepts.

Morethanindie: I was listening to the EP and you kind of notice - you do hear the story in it. And sometimes I think the lyrics aren't so clear, especially in metal. But even with that, I could feel there was a softer intro that really hits deep, like woah - what's happening now?! And then Verge of Collapse was just the peek and the emotions went downwards from there. It almost felt like there was a lot of anger in that one, but then in the rest - despite the intensity of it - the music felt a bit more intimate, a bit more somber. Was that deliberate? Have you heard different reactions from how people were experiencing the EP?

7MND: Uhm, one thing that I've been told, which was my goal, is that whatever emotions that I wanted to evoke translated well to the listeners. The all-round feedback was that the emotion was palpable throughout, and that to me is everything. Maybe because I'm the writer of the story and I know what happens, I already have associations with the songs. It might help if I told you the concept I had in mind, and maybe it could enrich your listening experience.

It's about this person who's fed up with the world and all sorts of societal injustice, anything that plagues the world. From the first song, he's bottling all these feelings. He ends up walking the Earth like an empty husk. He's numb to everything and he's going on a forward path with no direction. He gets to a point where he's very tired and his body gives out. He lets out this sort of scream. All his frustration and anger goes out, and they open up this portal to another world. He sees a world that looks more beautiful, filled with never-seen-before nature and creatures.. Through this portal, he sees a better place. So he has to make a choice now, does he leave the world he grew up in and is familiar with now, or does he go in?

He makes the choice and he goes into the portal. He sees how beautiful the place is, how better the people are. He feels happy for the first time, he feels energetic and everything seems good on the surface. Then slowly he starts seeing the cracks. Doubt creeps in again, thinking- is the problem within him? Is he bringing this on to people? Or is it an inherent problem with all societies? Eventually, it gets to him again and he bottles everything in and walks down the same path, until he can't handle it anymore. He lets out one final scream which basically..erases all of existence. Yeah, and that's pretty much the story!

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"There are motifs and underlying themes based on what I feel or felt during the writing process."

Morethanindie: COOL! Okay, I'm gonna go climb under a rock now and feel all my feelings, hahaha. You know I think a lot of people I've spoken have the ability to tune out the lyrics and listen to the music. Then you have those who are completely the opposite. And sometimes I think, for some, they're able to enjoy both depending on what you they want to do with it, either immerse themselves into it or just enjoy it as background music.

7MND: I think I'm both the first and the second person. The lyrics don't matter to me unless the vocals catch me first. And if they do, then I'm like "Okay, what are they saying? What's the message here?". If the vocal melodies and the delivery do it for me, if the emotion the vocalist is trying to convey is felt, I'm in. Tell me the lyrics. Does it add to my experience? It's kind of like getting to know a person, you get an impression of them first, then when you get to know them on the inside, and think to yourself "Okay, I like you more now."

Morethanindie: I gotta say, you know? That's one of the reasons I fell in love with indie music. A friend of mine from school gave me all these CD's. I started listening to indie, and it sounded like songs I've heard in movies. Then I recall bands like Death Cab for Cutie, and one of their lyrics says "The glove compartment isn't accurately named, and everybody knows it. So I'm proposing a swift orderly change". And I thought to myself "that's a very cool person". So yeah, I realized, I like the music, totally love the lyrics, these people are cool, and I started discovering more into the indie pop and indie rock genre. But.. when I compare it to hard rock and metal, the lyrics in those have almost always been profound, and there's a message about politics, or humanity, or individuality. So, there are more values about non-conforming. Is this something you stand strongly towards? Do you also think you want to do something different with your music journey?

7MND: I do have a strong stand about some causes, and beliefs and values I feel strongly about, but I like music to be a bit abstract, lyrically speaking. I feel like that way I can always relate to something, but nowadays after the EP, I want to go into more personal storytelling, or just like talking about something from my perspective. I think making a concept record is cool but it's also a bit like hiding. Not to get too deep…

Morethanindie: Oh, you can totally get too deep!

7MND: Hahaha, well after the listening party that I did for the EP, one of my close friends walked up to me and gave me the biggest hug in the world and asked me "Are you okay? You've been feeling all of this and haven't been telling anyone?". I responded with "Everything is alright, but I'm really happy that you felt that through the music." Making the music was very cathartic for me. Not to say I'm all “healed” now but this is how I like to express myself and release all this. So, in a way, it is personal.

Making the music was very cathartic for me.

Morethanindie: I mean, one thing I feel strongly about is that music is some sort of a language. It's energy transmission. Sometimes I listen to something, and it's so intense, I need a moment to just..absorb it all. I recall one time listening to a song by Tash Sultana and there was a violin orchestration, and the melody was very progressive. There was a really cool crescendo and I could feel the build-up inside. And I was writing, I could feel that I'm listening to it, it is feeding me, and this energy is evolving inside of me, which I could release in writing. It was mindblowing. It's so fascinating how a group of people can come together and make music, and be able to propagate this energy and feelings.

I think different artists have their own objectives when making music. What is yours?

7MND: With this one, if the music I made evoked any sort of emotion out of you, then I've done my job. It's a great feeling. Having someone feel because of something you've done is crazy! One of the things I talked about during the release party, was how in my earlier releases, I really focused on it being more showy; the instrumentation had to be cool and fiddly-widdly. But with this one, I didn't care how technical or progressive it sounded, I just wanted it to hit. Even when we were recording vocals, I asked my bandmate from Wazin, Mishal (who is also Follow The Hunter) to be in the chair, when I was there recording vocals. I asked him if I sound like what I'm trying to say. Do I sound frustrated or angry when I'm recording this? Does this feel right? If the energy was right, we kept the take. That was the most important thing.

For the future releases, I'm not sure if I will go with the same direction. I've already got a bunch of stuff lined up that I’m really excited about. Right now, I want to make stuff that sounds absolutely disgusting - in the best way possible. I just want to write stuff that gets that stank face reaction. Like if you heard it you’d go "what the f*ck is this?".

"I've already got a bunch of stuff lined up that I’m really excited about."

Morethanindie: I love that! Honestly, that's the best part about being an indie artist. If for you, one of the objectives is just to put something specific out there, then you're being genuine to yourself. Giving yourself this playground is one of the benefits of being independent. You're prioritizing yourself, essentially. Whatever it is you're doing, if you're doing it in an honest way, it will succeed across the goal you've put for it.

So - for the last part, let's talk a bit about the music scene in the Arab world. You're from Bahrain, right? You work with Abzy from Kuwait, and Wall of Sound in Saudi. How did you get to know these people? Can you tell me more about the connections? It feels like the music scene is really Arab-wide, as opposed to it being country-specific.

7MND: I mean, thank god for the Internet. With our band Wazin, and even working with Abzy on SRAI (and I've never met Abzy face to face) all our work happens online. And what’s cool with Wazin, is that all of us are producers. In terms of songwriting, sometimes I write something like a riff or a small idea and I send it to someone and they take it to a new place. Mishal sometimes writes the songs, etc… It's a really weird, cool collaboration process. We also feature each other a lot in our music. So, it all happened online and putting out my work online really helped me connect with others. I really focused on marketing myself by making videos demoing or showcasing plugins and drum libraries, this really kickstarted everything. I am where I am right now because of that. Same with Wall of Sound, I discovered them through discovering bands and members on Instagram, like Malik and Faris from Skeleton Crowd. After I did the collaboration with ana.n7n, I saw that there's a really cool thing happening in Saudi. The musicians there are super talented and hungry to make cool sh*t. I approached WOS and introduced myself, and they were super receptive. Mad props to the people behind that label, they’re the greatest.

Morethanindie: I think they're doing great and playing a big role in shaping the scene. Also in Lebanon, we have some key players like Tunefork Studios and Beirut Jam Sessions. I can only imagine how much work an artist needs to do to get their work out there. From making the music, to recording it, to marketing it, creating content, and adapting to different online channels. Then you have gigs! It's a lot! Record labels and music marketers have a big role to play in the process.

7MND: For sure. It's a lot! And that's probably why you need a day job too. I would love to make music full-time. At the moment I'm working with SRAI on a new song which might be out by the time this gets published. I'm also working with a cool pop artist here who's putting out her debut single which I produced, mixed, and mastered. I'd love to be able to take people's visions and bring them to life. It's really cool and is the ultimate goal for me.

Morethanindie: Hamad, thank you SO much for this brilliant conversation. It's been a pleasure!

"It's a great feeling. Having someone feel because of something you've done is crazy!"

- 7MND