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Music | 'Angels' in commotion above Sandmoon’s blazing guns

February 07, 2020

Music

By Lilly Torosyan

210 views

Music | 'Angels' in commotion above Sandmoon’s blazing guns

For the past decade, Lebanese indie-rock-folk band, Sandmoon, has been shredding up the local music scene with its fresh, fluid compositions. Helmed by Lebanese-Belgian-Armenian Sandra Arslanian, the group’s fourth studio album, “Put a Gun/Commotion,” drops this spring. Check out “Angels,” the second single off the upcoming record, in our video section below!

Artist's name Sandra Arslanian
Occupation

Musician; Film director/producer

City/Country Beirut, Lebanon
About the artist
  • The founder and lead singer of Sandmoon
  • Film director/producer at Ne a Beyrouth Films
  • Former organizing committee member at the Lebanese Film Festival

Close your eyes and picture the ocean sand under a moonlit sky. That’s the kind of mood evoked by Sandmoon, one of Lebanon’s hottest indie bands since it stormed onto the scene back in 2010. Founder and frontwoman, Sandra Arslanian, wears many hats—both on stage and behind it. The Lebanese-born, Belgian-reared, and Armenian-rooted musician, singer-songwriter, director, and producer is immersed in nearly every stage of the music process. 

Sandmoon, one of Lebanon’s hottest indie bands, stormed onto the scene back in 2010. (Photo: Sandra Fayad; Courtesy of Sandmoon) Sandmoon, one of Lebanon’s hottest indie bands, stormed onto the scene back in 2010. (Photo: Sandra Fayad; Courtesy of Sandmoon)


Some call musical ability a talent, but really, it is a superpower. With just a vocal or strumming of a guitar, a great artist can move the world and cure all sorts of ailments in ways that politicians and doctors can only dream of. The ability to sing a tune or compose it or craft the aesthetics is wonderful enough, but to do all three (and do them well) seems too greedy of an ask from the most understanding of genies—or “jinn,” in this part of the world. But Sandra Arslanian shares that blessing with those around her. 

She is a fan of collaborations, working alongside other indie darlings like Bosho+co and h-pem friend Gurumiran as a soloist. Deaf-born Lebanese expressionist dancer, Pierre Geagea, stars in the powerful video for Sandmoon’s “Time Has Come,” and Sandra’s niece, Varsia, features in the one for "Shiny Star"—my favorite track of the band’s. And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the promo video for our launch, which was both directed and produced by Sandra.

Outtakes from the h-pem promotional video that Sandra both directed and produced (Photo: h-pem)Outtakes from the h-pem promotional video that Sandra both directed and produced (Photo: h-pem)


For someone who proudly wears three ethno-national identities, the concept of “Home” would seem to be fluid for Sandra. But the single (of the same name) is one of the band’s biggest hits and was performed at a Sofar Beirut session to support refugees. CairoScene calls Sandmoon an “alluring outfit” in the region—a “fitting” description, we think. 

 

A new kind of sound in an ancient land

Sandmoon members (L to R) Sam Wehbi and Sandra Arslanian (Photo courtesy of Sandra Fayad; Sandmoon)Sandmoon members (L to R) Sam Wehbi and Sandra Arslanian (Photo: Sandra Fayad; Courtesy of Sandmoon)

Outside their native Lebanon, Sandmoon has gigged in various venues throughout Europe, and released three studio albums, with the latest, “Put a Gun/Commotion,” out this spring. All but one were recorded in Beirut and produced by Faddi Tabbal, often called “the hardest working man in Lebanon’s alternative music scene.” That may be true, but Sandra has a case for wearing that badge for the female team. 

One reviewer calls Sandra’s style reminiscent of the counterculture twang of legends like Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. Indeed, the coloring of her vocals has that 70s-folksy-pop edge, and there’s something about this music that lends itself well to the ukulele and rhythm guitar—two instruments, which Sandra strums frequently on the band’s records.

Sandra is the only woman—in the vein of other female-led bands, like Evanescence and Lady Antebellum—and the sole Armenian in the quartet. She tells us that her music or art “isn’t very much related to Armenianness,” but we find that her genre-swaying, earthy, folksy blend lives just as well in the increasingly widening scope of “Armenianness” as it does in multicultural Lebanon or Belgium.

And though it feels natural, on paper, perhaps, the band is an anomaly, performing almost exclusively in English in a country where the English-language pop/rock scene is still niche. It’s a decision that Sandra has said suits their genre, though she is open to the possibility of adding the Armenian language to their repertoire—if the opportunity arises. Despite the challenges, Sandmoon has managed to carve its unique space in this small, but growing, market. And with their newest record, they continue to create quality gems. 

The second single, “Angels,” has only been out for two weeks, but it has already climbed to the top of the Lebanese indie charts. In true Sandra fashion, she both wrote the song and produced its music video, which portrays the journey of a grieving young boy upon losing his mother. “Sitting there, under the sun,” the tune begins, asking “who am I? Where do I go” before the star thrashes on a drum set and gets engulfed in literal flames to Sandra’s voice, calmly booming, “Love is all that remains.”

It’s a beautiful follow-up to the band’s 2016 single, “In the End,” which pleaded “Can we just not be fooled by sentiments?” Check out “Angels” in our video section below, then stay tuned for the record, “Put a Gun/Commotion,” out soon!
 

To learn more about Sandmoon, check out the band’s website!

Video

  • "Angels" by Sandmoon

    (Video: Sandmoon YouTube page)

  • "Time Has Yet To Come" by Sandmoon

    (Video: Sandmoon YouTube page)

  • "Shiny Star" by Sandmoon

    (Video: Sandmoon YouTube page)

  • "Home" by Sandmoon

    (Video: Sandmoon YouTube page)

  • "In the End" by Sandmoon

    (Video: Sandmoon YouTube page)

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