RockEra had the chance to interview Kareem Chehayeb, the vocalist and guitarist of Dubai-based death metal band Voice of the Soul. Voice of the Soul have been in the metal scene since 2008 and are currently working on a debut album. Band members are Kareem Chehayeb – Vocals/Guitars, Monish Shringi – Guitars, Khalid Temimi – Drums and Bam Farra – Bass (live). We’ve spoken about their band formation, inspiration, and their upcoming album!
Can you tell us how you got into music? Was death metal a common passion shared by the band members and
that evolved into the professional formation of a band?
Long story short, I used to live in Kuwait and was bored out of my mind. I always enjoyed listening to music, so I thought it’d be interesting to pick up an instrument and try doing my own thing. I really was inspired by Stone Gossard and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam. When I first started the band, we weren’t exactly an extreme metal band, even though some of us were into the genre at the time. By the time Monish joined sometime in August 2008, we were definitely moving in that direction. That being said, we used to listen to all sorts of things under the metal “Umbrella”.
Monish and I would meet and jam at his place on a weekly basis. Though we had a bunch of people join and leave Voice of the Soul for the longest time, we always kept writing music and try and develop a sound that we’re really happy with. I think we spent much more time writing music because we couldn’t play any shows in Kuwait. We initially started as a cover band. After we played at a battle of the bands that got a relatively turnout, I think that gave us that inspirational spark to try and write music.
With one band member residing in a different country than the other two, how does the work progress? How do you guys pursue making music and overcome that obstacle?
Yeah, it kinda sucks. But was much worse when we were all in different countries. Monish eventually moved to Dubai, and once Khalid joined and Bam decided to play shows with us, it made things much easier. At one point, I was living in the US finishing my college degree, so the distance from Beirut to Dubai is certainly not as annoying.
That being said, it’s still a burden and an obstacle in many ways. We rely on Skype and Guitar Pro to share ideas and work out anything during the song-writing process. We’ve been doing that for a while, and it’s been working well since then…at least I think so!
As artists we all obviously face ‘creativity block’ days. On such days, where do you draw inspiration or creativity from?
Funny you ask that question, because we just got over a massive creative block. We’ve been writing and scrapping music nonstop since we released our last EP ‘Into Oblivion’ in August 2011. At one point, I was trying to figure out ways to overcome it on the internet! I found inspiration in books, movies, and other music genres that aren’t exactly metal. I also started working on improving my guitar technique in other genres, notably jazz and blues.
So we read that you’re working on an album! Tell us more about that!
Yeah, that’s right! I sadly can’t give anything out yet, especially because we haven’t settled much of that yet to be honest. However, we’re making a massive announcement regarding the album really soon. I’m really pleased with how the material is sounding so far so stay tuned!
Are you planning to have a debut launch for the album here in Dubai?
Absolutely. We’ve been playing shows in Dubai for a while now, especially since we’ve relocated as a band. Once the album is ready, we’ll definitely start working on that.
It must be really hard work. Do you have some sort of mentor or a good studio you’re working with?
These days, it is beyond just making music. Sure it’s hard work, but you pick up all sorts of beneficial skills from video and image editing to PR. In Kuwait, we worked with an awesome producer, Sarj, but we’ll be working in a studio in Dubai for this full-length. I think what’s great about the UAE scene is the amount of support bands have for each other. Our friends from more experienced bands give us their feedback and constructive criticism, just as some newer bands ask for ours.
What are you hoping for after the release of the album?
If everything goes to plan, we’d love to tour to promote the album. It’s always fun playing in new places with different bands and meeting people.
What do you think about the ‘metal scene’ in the UAE, and when will your next gig here be?
It’s growing again, I think. After the 2009 Desert Rock Festival, things got a little quieter, so it’s nice to see it grow again. We’ve been focusing on finishing the album up, so nothing is confirmed yet, but we’ll post all our announcements on our social media platforms.
You made it from people passionate about music to a recognized band with several achievements. Do you have any advice for a people hoping to take the same path that you took? A secret recipe for success in the music industry?
Keep an open ear, practice your instrument, and love what you do. Practically speaking though, master social media. Create an active community on your social media platforms, and document all the cool stuff your band does – aka videotape EVERYTHING! It’ll make your band more presentable to organizers that want to give bands a shot in playing killer shows. It’s not easy, but we do it because we really love it; we know there is no bling involved anytime soon.