47SOUL is an Electro Arabic Dabke (Shamstep) band formed in Amman Jordan in 2013. The members are rooted in Bilad Al-Sham, spanning the divides from Amman to the Galilee to Ramallah and the rest of the Palestinian Diaspora. This new sound of 47SOUL has rapidly amassed fans in the Arab World and Europe by blasting the electric Arabic Dabke sound through underground music scenes.
What is the meaning behind the 47Soul name and the wider meaning behind Shamstep as a new movement?
47Soul for us is a symbol for freedom of movement, because the different cities where each one of us in the band grew up weren’t divided by borders and checkpoints up until the year 1947, which is of course one year before the Palestinian Nakba ( the occupation and the ethnic cleansing of the biggest part of what’s now called Historical Palestine) in 1948.
Shamstep is the name we gave to the sound ourselves and other associated artists are creating when it comes to electronic and hip-hop music, with focus on Bilad Al Sham (The Levant which is the area of Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and some part of Iraq) type melodies and beats.
Deriving from grooves that accompany Dabke ( A dance style popular in that region ), we see Shamstep as a contribution from Arab youth into the bigger pool of production styles , specially roots pop, world trap and hiphop ideas associated with rhythm and dance movements. Reviving the Arabic influence from and onto some of the African and Latin styles.
How did the group come together from the beginning?
That’s a whole story by itself, would be hard to get into it in detail, the short answer is a man called Mo Jesus made the connection.
The long answer is we met because Arab artists — let alone all Palestinian — do connect on the internet inside the divided lands and the diaspora, we also started as a collective because when we first met, we were already established as individuals/parts of other bands in the Arab region. Remember as well that this century and the last created a lot of Arab migrants and refugees all over the world, who are part of a story. You got to always keep an eye on your scene.
We had something in common: we want to produce fresh Arabic music for everyone not just for Arab people and express the current mentality of Arab youth in our own way.
As 47Soul you have carved out a unique space for yourselves, what inspired you to do this and how have you achieved it?
You can find a lot of Arabic samples in Arabic hip-hop and Arabic electronica and that is great , you also find sha’abi or popular Arabic music with keyboards and Dabke dances recorded live from street parties , late night clubs and weddings, and of course there is Arabic mainstream pop with the commercial formulas of using different trending sounds and vibes for every era. That is all there but we wanted to create a type of sound that has Arabic groove patterns electronically and to play the Arabic keyboards with all the quarter tones with Arabic drums means a lot of options , so we limited the drums and melodies to the area we are from , Palestine /Syria and that is still many different beats that are very easy to dance to. On top of that we use all the soul , dub and rap styles in us and we use Arabic and English in lyrics to create a bridge with our people and others in the diaspora because migration , ethnic cleansing , borders , apartheid and the occupation is a big part of the story .
What is your artistic process and how do you make music together as a group?
It’s not easy to have four people who are all producers, songwriters and lyricists work on one track unless there is one producer, in our case it is a workshop from scratch every day, but it is also what it is. It started like this and the communication level in the kitchen evolved
Your music sounds like a celebration and brings together different influences from different spaces. What is the bigger purpose you hope for your music to achieve?
We have to create a bridge between our people in the homeland and our people in the diaspora who lost their language because it’s a massive percentage of people outside of the land and that is the first step for making bridges between other people as well who had borders forced on them and divided them ‚we think that Palestine and the Bilad Al Sham area can represent the connection point between Africa , Asia and the Mediterranean let alone a the unity of religious identities that are associated whether ancient , old or new.
Tell us about the new single “Hold Your Ground” ft. Lowkey. What was the process in making a fresh song?
It is technically our first official studio collaboration and we wanted to give thanks to London’s good people for backing up 47soul and to our listeners back home as well, so we created a track with Lowkey in mind and he did on it nothing less than we expected. We feel blessed to be connected with such artists and brothers.
With the last show of the year coming up soon, what does 2020 look like for 47Soul?
New album on the way and more world tours … be ready for some more of the shamstep force!
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