Tanya Traboulsi: photography observes Lebanese underground music | Diala Gemayel
Tanya Traboulsi: photography observes Lebanese underground music
Diala Gemayel   
Tanya Traboulsi: photography observes Lebanese underground music | Diala Gemayel“I have always listened to a lot of music and I used to buy a lot of vinyl records when I was a child”, she recounts, leaning on the bar at Demo, one of the “offbeat” places of the Lebanese capital. One of its two owners, Trash Inc, is an electronic music creator that is very appreciated by non-commercial listeners. “Certain Lebanese rappers were my friends and one day, I took a photo of the group just for fun. I had no particular contacts with the underground scene in Beirut but I knew all the artists”. It’s the experimental/punk trio Scrambled Eggs’s turn to be shot by Tanya Traboulsi. “The three of them really liked the photos and as for me, I knew this was the beginning of something…” Since 2007, she goes to concerts as a certified photographer spontaneously. “Sometimes they contact me themselves for press photos.” In order to establish her artistic identity, the photographer downloaded certain photos on her Facebook page in the beginning of this “experience”. The photos were an immediate success or, at least, their visibility was huge. Explanation: “I only keep maximum 30 photos from the 200 digital ones that I take during a concert.” More than a thousand snapshots after three years of work were grouped slowly but regularly in the Music is life cycle and have enabled the slow maturation of a book entitles UNTITLED TRACKS: ON ALTERNATIVE MUSIC IN BEIRUT. “Some time ago I discovered Ruptures, the radio programme of the Lebanese music critic and producer Ziad Newfal, she pursues. I wrote to him quickly and suggested to work together on a project of texts and photos. Months passed by until a common friend introduced us to each other face to face. From that moment thing went very fast: Ziad and Ghalya Saadawi were responsible of the editorial line and wrote their texts, the photos were chosen and our project was financed by Beirut World Book Capital”.

Talent and intensity

The book signing took place last March in the Lebanese capital in front of a large audience that pleasantly surprised Tanya Traboulsi. “I am proud and motivated by the success of the 23 groups and artists that I have chosen for the book”, she says. They work a lot to succeed and when I compare them to the spoilt children that a few European musicians are, I admire them…” According to the photographer, these rappers, Lebanese “experimenters” are characterised by their variety, their talent, their intensity and the authenticity of their feelings. “It’s a pity that such a motivation does not meet a large audience”, she deplores. Being extremely active in Lebanon, Facebook has nonetheless enabled this underground generation to believe in itself and to continue producing its music, against everything. “Thanks to the recent regional structure Eka3, the commercial counter-attack machine is starting to work. With regards to Tanya Traboulsi, even if Music is Life does not provide her with substantial financial income, she confirms wanting to go on: “I love what I do”.

Diala Gemayel
Translated into English by Elizabeth Grech