Jadal: Transforming the Barren Desert Into a Musical Jungle
Having put the 3alganoob Festival into full-throttle with their unique performance earlier this month, Eihab Boraie gets the opportunity hear about their rise to underground fame from front man Mahmoud Radaideh.
The Arab musical landscape often seems as barren as the deserts that make up the majority of their land mass. Finding a new sound in this dehydrating, sandy emptiness creates the same sense of elation as stumbling upon a nourishing oasis. Providing me with that sensation here in Egypt was none other than Jordan’s beloved Jadal, who totally owned their set at the 3alganoob Festival. Taking the time to tell me how Jadal became to be and how their unique sounds have travelled far beyond their Jordanian borders is leading front man Mahmoud Radaideh.
Jadal's musical journey began in 2003, as an attempt to create a new sound. “Back then there was nothing that you can call Arabic Rock. I tried to define this genre with Jadal’s sound. It was something really new but now it’s common,” a proud of Radaideh explains humbly adding that “Of course, there must have been other bands trying to do the same thing but we didn’t know about each other. It’s not my thing! I was just imposing Arabic Rock, like this was one of my messages… this is Rock 3arabi so, categorising it was something helpful for Jadal and for everybody else.”
The idea of playing Arabic Rock was organically inspired when the band started rearranging the Abdelhalim Hafiz’s song Touba. It was during this experiment that Jadal would find and shape their signature style, making Jadal synonymous with the genre across the region. Their first full length album aptly titled Arabic Rocks, made an immediate impact on the soundscape and tracks like Salma, which was written for Radaideh's niece, immediately enthralled music lovers yearning for something new.
One would expect that the pioneers of Arab Rock's second album would deliver more of the same, but instead they did what all great bands do; they let their sound evolve. “In 2013, we released our second album, called El Makina, and it had a couple of hits, one of the biggest being a song called Ana Bakhaf Min El Commitment,” describes Radaideh. The song instantly connects with anyone with commitment issues, and cleverly keeps the word commitment in English while the rest of the lyrics are sung in Arabic. The mixing of English words into Arabic songs is become increasingly popular regionally as it is a true reflection of how a younger generation actually communicates.
Although it could be argued that Ana Bakhaf Min El Commitment is a departure from Arabic Rock and a venture into Electro Pop territory, it still has characteristics that make it unmistakably a Jadal track. According to Radaideh, “On the second album we had some Pop and Electro Pop songs so it started as an Arabic Rock project but now it’s whatever I feel like composing, you know? Like for instance Coldplay call themselves ‘Rock’ even though most of their songs are Pop. They’re still a Rock band at the end.”
Returning to Egypt to play in Soma Bay at the 3alganoob Festival, many in attendance will argue that Jadal's performance saved the festival. After reaching Soma Bay, many festival goers arrived to the dustiest of nightmares. Before anything could be set up on site, organisers were forced to wait for a terrible sandstorm to pass. For hours it was unclear if bands would be able to perform on the open air stage and whether 3alganoob would be able to recover from Mother Nature’s fury. Once the sun had set and the winds died down, word spread quickly that a few acts would in fact be playing that night. It was uncomfortably cold and many in the crowd were visibly upset as there was nothing to do but wait for something to happen. Almost instantaneously after Jadal took to the stage all frowns were flipped upside down, as their amazingly tight set delighted their fans and captivated new followers. “With the circumstances we had, I think in a way they say that we saved the day,” describes Radaideh positively adding that “Usually in Egypt we attract our own fans. 3alganoob was a bit different, we’re not just playing to our fans; we’re playing to other bands’ fans and hope that Jadal always brings something new regardless to the one who hears it or where they are from.”
Easily one of the highlights of the whole festival, Jadal is a tour de force and were successful in converting new ears into devout followers. As it stands, Radaideh believes that “Jadal are in a safe place. We already have releases and fans and we have already toured, so in a way we know what we’re doing. The ultimate goal is to one day play to 20,000 Jadal fans in a concert in Jordan.”
Showing no signs of slowing down and a passion for crafting unique and catchy tracks, Jadal's sound goes beyond being synonymous with any one genre. With two solid releases and impressive live set, the band has established themselves as an important voice in the underground Arab music scene. With a little luck, Jadal will hopefully inspire others to explore new sounds and carve out their own style, transforming the small but thirst quenching oasis in the barren Arab musical landscape into a vibrant jungle where interesting music thrives. Just like any profession, it’s a matter of survival of the fittest, and based on their efforts, in this jungle you will find Jadal at the top of the musical food chain.
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