Deep, controversial, loved, incomprehensible and simple. This is Bachar Mar-Khalife, the Franco-Lebanese artist, who performed in July for the first time in Romania, at JazzTM.
It’s hard to describe him or the music he composes, because both, his songs and him, go beyond the boundaries of words. It’s a parallel universe, a man, and a kind of music that can only be felt.
He comes from Lebanon, but for him, the real country means poetry. Bachar, which is 35 years old, still has questions and perplexities. He hoped to find an answer in philosophy, but he gave up, finding that his grandmother is the best philosopher.
I managed to kidnap him a few minutes, drink some coffee together and discover a little of Bachar Mar-Khalife’s great and fascinating world.
Here’s our discussion:
Me: You have a description on Instagram where you describe yourself: I am bored but free. What does freedom mean to you? Are you really bored?
Bachar: Yes, I am bored and I look for this state of mind. I like being bored.
Me: Are you lazy? [laughing]
Bachar: [laughing] Yes. I am very lazy. I think it is a big luxury when you can afford being bored. It means that you are taking time for nothing. People are saying that you are wasting time when you’re doing nothing, but I think it is when you do nothing that you are gaining some time in your life because you can see very clearly, much more clearly things. You can go on essential things, the things that are really important. For me, there is no freedom without taking this time to do nothing.
Me: How much time do you take for yourself to be bored?
Bachar: For example, on tour, we are always traveling, by plane or train, and I have a lot of time to be bored. The concert is an hour and all the time that remains is waiting, trying to sleep, but I can’t. Thinking, just looking at the window and thinking about a lot of things. This is the main inspiration for me.
Me: Are you a sad person?
Bachar: I think I am much more happy than sad. I would not be ready for happiness if I would not experience sadness. Both go together, you can’t feel happy if you were not sad once. It is a cycle, it goes together. I am not interested in being just happy or sad, but sadness, when it happens, it is so heavy… But we have to let these moments pass. They always pass.
Me: Your music sounds very deep, even if we don’t understand the lyrics. Does the lyrics have also a deep meaning?
Bachar: I hope they don’t. I hope words are just part of the music, I hope people don’t just wait for understanding a language to see whether they like a song or not. Of course, each song tells something, but I don’t think lyrics are the most important things that matter.
Me: Are you still looking for your meaning in life?
Bachar: Of course, otherwise I would be discouraged. I mean, looking for something is motivational, even if you know that you will never find an answer…
Me: Are you sure?
Bachar: Yes, I am pretty sure. Maybe, I will be surprised. I don’t close the door to surprises, so I say every day to myself: let’s try again. Each day we have to allow yourself to start a new life, to believe that we will find an answer. It is nice, it is fun.
Me: I thought you are a sad person, not an optimistic one. A reason is the fact that your songs are so deep and powerful. You don’t have many happy songs.
Bachar: Yes, I have few of them. You know, it is tricky, because it is also beautiful to cry, it is a beautiful feeling. I don’t like to believe that we always have to escape sadness or to be always far from difficulties. Everything is energy. Sometimes, hate is an energy, but it comes because we believe in a kind of love, so we hate because we are not achieving this ideal of love. Everything is mixt. I don’t know if I sound sad or happy in my songs. The question is: are the songs true to my needs?!
Me: You have also an album dedicated for your country. What does it mean to you?
Bachar: My poetic country. My country means my childhood, what I remember. It doesn’t mean Lebanon. My country is my mother, the stories I heard about people I didn’t know. My country is much bigger than a flag or a territory. It’s in this that I call my country. My country is poetry. I don’t like using music to define everything. For example, this recording [the interview] will be released and people will read it. I don’t want to talk about my country. I don’t want to refer to my country, I want them to remember about their country, their own exile, their own childhood. When you define too much, when you are too close, it becomes vulgar. I think there is a lot of space to save between your story and what it’s in the song. I don’t really think that I am telling only about my story.
Me: So, it’s kind of universal message, music…
Bachar: I am making music humbly, with humility. I think humility talks to a lot of souls, humble souls.
Me: Beautiful! By the way, did you study philosophy?
Bachar: No, I was lost in philosophy, because I thought it is the main answer to my questions. My mother was a philosophy teacher at a University in Beirut, so I always thought that through philosophy I will understand everything, but actually, it made me have even more questions. If I, anyway, thought about studying philosophy, I realized that philosophy is not something that we can learn in universities. Maybe we can learn about the history of philosophy, but, you know, the best philosophers are people which don’t even know how to read. I am thinking about my grandmother, for example, which is for me a great philosopher, because she always has an eye of life that will make you ask questions. She did not study. Simple, basic. Our existence is very simple, but to understand this, you have to go through hell.
Me: Was your grandmother an important part of your life, an important part of the evolution that made you become the man you are today?
Bachar: Yes, she is. She is carrying so many stories, she is carrying nearly one century. Every old person is a book, a universal book. They have gone through everything. Every old person is a philosopher. You can feel the life when you are one month old, but understanding philosophy takes a lot of time and it means saying loudly that we are not animals. But it takes a lot of time to get there. Anyway, in the end, I am not even sure if we are animals or not. [laughing]
Me: I have a last question, a simple one: what does music mean to you? How would you define it?
Bachar: [laughing] Yes, right, very simple… It is the most difficult one. For me, it is a way of life, a way of living, a way of seeing.
Me: Is this what you wished for since you were a child?
Bachar: No, when I was a child music was just a part of my life. I come from a musician family. I was dreaming of other things. I was fascinated in Lebanon by the people who were working in the gas station. I loved the smell of the gas. I always said that I will become one of them. With the time, I realized that music is the thing that I know the best. Music is very wide, it can be everything. So, I looked my place in this area and I am still looking for it. Maybe, music is just a part of the travel of my life, and at some point, I will arrive at something else.
Me: Like working in a gas station…
Bachar: Maybe this is the achievement. [smiling]