Under the Radar Premieres Music Video of Bara7a (براحة)

Multicultural and multilingual sextet, Kuwaisiana, are releasing their newest single, “Bara7a (براحة),” premiering here with Under the Radar. Kuwaisiana (a portmanteau of Kuwait and Louisiana) take their name from the homes of the diverse musical traditions behind their music, a singular blend of New Orleans jazz, funk, ska, indie rock, and the rhythms of Khaleeji music. 

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist +Aziz emigrated from Kuwait to NYC, then from NYC to New Orleans where he formed Kuwaisiana. As a truly multicultural band, not only do they blur genre boundaries but they cross global boundaries too. Drummer Matthieu hails from France, while trumpeter Dehan Elçin is from Turkey, and bassist Sam Levine, saxophonist Nick Ferreirae, and hand percussionist Patrick Driscoll were born in the US.

The band first introduced their unique genre expression to the world with their album Chapter 1 and “Bara7a” is the first single from their follow up EP, Chapter 2, coming January 15. 

“Bara7a” follows +Aziz’s experiences as an adolescent in Kuwait, delving into one of the near-universal experiences of teenage years – schoolyard bullies. +Aziz switches easily between Arabic and English as he delivers his coming of age story, capturing his experience with culture clash as his painted nails and black clothing earn him the ire of his classmates and he takes the burgeoning first steps towards flirting with a girl.

The song itself is emblematic of the mix of styles the band takes on, taking equally from New Orleans jazz, indie rock, and blues. With each verse the band goes down subtly shifting paths, incorporating jazzy interludes and playful hand percussion and highlighting the talents of each of the sextet.

However, the track always returns to the instantly catchy central brass riff and +Aziz’s confident vocals. The result sits in its own lane and defies easy categorization, but is undeniably captivating. Accompanying the track is a colorful video, framing +Aziz’s storytelling in vibrant pastels and striking visual vignettes. It also helpfully provides lyrics to the band’s monolingual listeners.

+Aziz says of the track, “Bara7a means sandlot. This is a song about adolescence and dealing with bullies from different social classes.  While most people’s culture shock happens when they travel from one culture to another, I had my first major culture shock when I moved from public school to private school in Kuwait, so I wrote a song about it! It exposed me to different types of Kuwaitis and expats of all sorts.” With “Bara7a” Kuwaisiana has a terrific testament to the imaginative possibilities of their cross-cultural genre-blending. Listen to the song and watch the video below, and be on the watch for the Chapter 2 EP, coming January 15.

Originally published on Under the Radar by Caleb Campbell, NOV 2020.

Categories: News

Music & Lyrics

Chapter 2

Sink your teeth into Kuwaisiana’s Chapter 2 release, a 5-track exploration of Khaleeji and Arab-American identity. Working in Arabic and English, Kuwaisiana is a full-bodied band producing a danceable, dynamic sound that draws on world music and indie rock. Led by Kuwaiti singer-songwriter +Aziz, the 6-piece blends funk, rock, ska with New Orleanian jazz, adding a unique twist to what Indie Arab Rock can sound like.

Born out of +Aziz’s desire to explore parallels between American and Khaleeji cultures, Chapter 2 is the band’s followup EP to Chapter 1, which was released through Universal Music MENA. This 22-minute EP deepens the band’s exploration of the day-to-day experiences of Arab-American youth and the evolving viewpoints of Khaleejis living in the Arabian Peninsula. It will be self-released on Bandcamp and then published to streaming platforms.

Lyrically, +Aziz explores the cultures he knows so well through his metaphor-rich lyrics, which sustain a tension between conversational and a more evocative, poetic perspective. Kuwaisiana is making progress at a time when so much of the world is in flux. Give the EP a listen!

Chapter 1

Kuwaisiana’s, Chapter 1, is an awesomely interesting release by an equally intriguing band from New Orleans with bridges to Kuwait who combine the vernacular of topics between there and the US southern region. They cross bread everything from Cajun to Pop music in their combination of styles that never leave out the two areas in which they’re grounded, yet they have a universal appeal in the process. Chapter 1 wins on that premise alone.” James McQuiston, Editor at NeuFutur

Drawing fitfully from their surrounds, the septet’s sonics are bolstered by bursts of brass and the lilt of (apparently synthesized) accordion, conjuring a rootsy, Cajun vibe around +Aziz’s raw, DIY-rock approach. At the best moments, a barn-storming, street-party abandon overcomes these slightly flat, self-produced recordings… But there is a potent spice found amid this audio stew. Split into two “sides” — the first in Arabic, the second English — the lyrics on “Chapter 1” carry subtle weight as a reflection on the modern Arab experience.” Martin Wingham, Arab News

Given the current banal state of popular music, an album and a band like Kuwaisiana are just the tonic that is needed… So here’s to Kuwaisiana for treading new ground and charting a new path. In a musical landscape that sometimes feels too cookie-cutter and too safe, Kuwaisiana are paving new ground, and hot damn, it is awe-inspiring.” Greg Robson, Step Inside This House