T.H.E Interview – Shkoon

shkoon interview

One of the most exciting and authentic outfits in the current electronica scape, German-Syrian live act Shkoon is changing the face of underground music in the Arab world.

Building bridges between Middle Eastern tradition and modern club-culture, the duo have served to unify numerous demographics through their richly eclectic productions and ethereal track selections. Now, reimagining one of the most widely celebrated Arab Pop hits of the past forty years – Ya Rayt (1986) by regional superstar Ragheb Alama – the duo navigates a new and progressive path for the region’s vibrant music community.

We caught up with Shkoon to learn more about how they came together, the new remix, and more.

T.H.E – Welcome to T.H.E Music Essentials! How are you both?

Shkoon – Thanks for having us! Hard to give an answer on this at the moment, with all the things going on right now. Besides that, we are trying our best to stay sane and work on a lot of new music in our studio at the moment.

T.H.E – How did you both meet and what made you start working together?

Shkoon – We both met at the end of 2015 when Ameen arrived in Germany and moved into Thorben’s shared flat. From being flatmates we discovered that we have a lot of shared interests in all kinds of traditional music and cultures. But we didn’t have the intention to work on such a project together back then. We started jamming and playing around with music for ourselves. After showing this to friends they basically forced us to continue and “Shkoon” happened. Thanks for that by the way.

T.H.E – Who does what when you are in the studio, do you bring your own sounds?

Shkoon – We don’t have fixed roles in the studio. We try to stay flexible and allow ourselves to think out of the box. It mostly starts with a small musical motif, sound, or rhythmic pattern one creates and we go further from there. We love to play with instruments or other objects that we do not master. It quite often offers the unexpected.

T.H.E – When playing live how does it work, what roles do you have?

Shkoon – Our live setup is constantly changing, partially because there are always things and ways to improve and also not to get too comfortable with what we are doing on stage. But of course, there are a few fixed roles. Ameen obviously sings and Thorben is responsible for beats and arrangement on stage. Concerning melodies and harmonics, that changes a lot. We always have some synthesizes or samplers with us to play or modify our own sounds with.

T.H.E – What advice would you give yourself as a young artist that you have learned since you started?

Shkoon – Our biggest challenge is probably not to push on things, especially to finish music or releases. It sometimes needs time and we always get our best results when we don’t try to fit it into a specific frame. When we really forget about what our music should sound like, we are able to work way more freely and are mostly more happy about the results in the end.

T.H.E – Tell us about the new remix of Ragheb Alama – Ya Rayt? How did you approach the production?

Shkoon – As there were no single tracks of the elements from the song anymore (only tape master from the 80s exists) we needed to work differently that one would probably approach a remix. The first element we resampled was a string parts we turned into a pad. On top of that we build an arpeggio with a rhodes that we send through chorus, spring reverb, tape echo and some other things. That’s how we got our basic mood for the remix.

T.H.E – What was it like to remix a track which is so widely celebrated?

Shkoon – When we started working on it, we luckily didn’t think about that, so we did not feel any pressure. Besides that it was helpful that Thorben didn’t know the song and its significance in the region.

T.H.E – What else are you working on this year?

Shkoon – We are in a very creative phase right now, so I guess there are some releases to expect till the end of the year. It’s gonna start with a live album at the beginning of summer. And we are super excited to finally be able to play more concerts again.


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