We are interviewing the band hailing from Lebanon, Sandmoon. They combine a Middle Eastern influence with their Folk and Rock fusion, as well as some electro splashes. Their music is sophisticated, realistic, and sincere. Sandra Arslanian the band leader (on vocals, keys, ukulele, and rhythm guitar), Sam Wehbi (on lead guitar), Georgy Flouty (on bass/soundscapes), and Dani Shukri (on drums) make up the quartet. They’ve recently released their moving single, “Wake Up,” and we’re awaiting the rest of the album to be dropped by the end of 2022.
- We’re pleased to have this chat with Sandra Arslanian. First thing first, tell us how you all got together and what sparked the idea of Sandmoon?
I started Sandmoon a bit more than ten years ago. First I was alone then I found musicians to accompany me for gigs and recordings. Sandmoon is actually Sandra and the Moon. Over the years, the Moon has waxed and waned, welcoming a set of different musicians along the way. The musicians that play with me now – Sam Wehbi, guitar / Georgy Flouty, bass / Dani Shukri, drums, have been around since 2016. And we really feel a deep connection. I’ve recorded the last two albums with them and I couldn’t be happier – Put a Gun/Commotion and the upcoming While We Watch the Horizon Sink.
- I’m sensing an interesting backstory to the band’s name. Can you let us know how you settled on it?
As I explained, it’s Sandra and the Moon. But it’s also the sand – the earth & the moon – the sky. Heaven & Earth. A combination of rawness, toughness, steadfastness (the earth) and emotions, dreams (the moon).
- Your music is a cross between Indie Folk and Rock. Is that how you’d describe your sound? Or would you like to experiment with different genres in the future?
I don’t like to call it anything in particular I think. I find it difficult to put labels on the music. Many are calling it Dream Pop or Indie Pop as well. Not sure, really. I think every release has been unique in its genre. Back in 2014, “Home” was more acoustic. There even was a cello on each track. It’s more electro/electric now.
- As an Egyptian magazine, we’d want to know who you like in the Egyptian indie music scene right now.
Setting aside the polemic, I think Aya Metwalli made interesting music. Also, Egypt recently adopted a new Lebanese singer: Lai who works with an Egyptian producer – well-crafted Arabic electro-pop.
- “Wake Up” is a spectacular, touching song! Can you take us behind the scenes and tell us about the writing process?
It was during one of the lockdowns, I sat down at my piano and started singing to this tune. It all came about pretty naturally, as it does in automatic writing. The happenings of the months prior (revolution, covid,…) must have surfaced and manifested themselves: “Wake Up”.
- Given that the song was inspired by the Beirut protests, have you considered making it in Arabic?
Well I’d be lying to say that they were solely inspired by the Beirut protests. For me, it’s a mix of everything we were going through as well as personal experiences. I see “Wake Up” not only against the socio-economic backdrop of what was/is happening in Lebanon, but also as a deeply emotional/spiritual song of knowing thyself and through that awareness, making healing possible.
- Based on the previous question, do you have any plans to make Arabic songs, or at least be driven by Middle Eastern influence?
If you listen to my songs, you can feel many influences – from folk to oriental accents. I’m Armenian, Lebanese, Belgian. That’s the pot-pourri I’m made of. Genuinely. And the music I like to play is indie. Not sure what the future might bring but for the moment, this is it ?
- The music video is clearly expressive, serves the message, and the black and white footage adds authenticity. How did you come up with the idea? And how was the band’s artistic vision developed in collaboration with the director, Salim Mourad?
Salim Mourad is an incredible director, his work is different, and unique. We sat in my living room and listened to the song a few times together, closing our eyes. He came up with most of the ideas and I just filled in the blanks. The song and the video both are centered on the notion of opening one’s eyes and healing.
- “Wake Up” is an outstanding teaser for the upcoming album “While We Watch the Horizon Sink.” Could you please tell us more about it?
I’m glad you like it. Every track will be quite unique in its genre but will form a beautiful set together. Can’t wait to share it by the end of the year.
- Thank you for your time! Besides “While We Watch the Horizon Sink,” what’s on the horizon for Sandmoon?
Hoping that the Horizon doesn’t totally sink hehe… there will be two more videos – one in Sept, the other in Dec. And hopefully, a few dates in the coming year. Stay tuned…