Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I am of Assyrian descent and came here to Maastricht in 2010 to do my Bachelor’s degree in European Studies. At that time, I was so young and had these surrealistic, and really quite abstract, dreams of being a musician. Yet, something kept me going and even though I attended the university I felt the only thing I was really focused and disciplined in was music itself. I am thankful for everything I learned in my studies, but I am especially thankful for everything I learned outside the classroom. As opposed to the metropoles of this world, the environment of Maastricht, maybe due to its density, pushes you to pursue acts of self – determination. If you decide to stand still, you will stand still. If you decide to grow, you will grow. Nobody will make these decisions for you, there are little outside impulses to push you forward. At the same time, it gives you great freedom to experiment and beta test, form your artistic and human voice and get a reaction from a small, but loving community. My work is not so easily defined, to be honest, I work with sound, music and lately I started working with film. I do not always follow a topic, sometimes I just like to leave things empty and without interpretation, but I do also like to tackle important issues like climate change or migration. Sometimes these waves take me to very unexpected places, but that makes it very interesting.
What do you consider your distinctive element?
I always put sound in the foreground, especially because to a certain extent, we perceive it subconsciously. The perception of sound can deceive the rest of our senses, it can give us new ideas of space, it reflects our being and it is omnipresent. In this omnipresence it becomes clear that we never experience silence. What is equally interesting is that we do not allow sounds to be themselves when we listen. We like it when things “make sense” or better when we “make sense” to things. When I work alone I cannot express these concepts because I am always in full control of my decisions, at least I believe so. When I work with other artists however, I leave the decisions up to them which offers many new ideas. The only requirement is creating sound as an “accidental” by-product of their “real” work. I clearly distinguish between my approach to music and to sound however. When I make music, I do not think about concepts, theory or tradition. Music is widely seen as a communication of feelings and I also treat it that way.
What are you looking forward to?
Exploring aforementioned concepts further. Learning. Exhibitions. Working with all my friends and new people. Playing concerts and traveling the world.
Which advice would you give to other professionals?
Honestly, I do not feel ready to give solid advice because I am learning most from other professionals (haha). But in general, I would say we should always try to stay open minded, humble, honest and to put things in perspective. Keep your friends close, give other artists, and people in general, a chance to show you what they are doing, get out of your own head and immerse into theirs once in a while.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
I think this is an interesting question. I do not know how to answer this on a big scale, but I think on a social level Maastricht now has the opportunities to build more self – esteem and identity to be able to present itself on the cultural map of the world. Culturally speaking we can put more work into unblocking the “problem” that international students only come here to study. There is a great deal of locals but also of internationals that stimulate the establishment of small businesses in the art sector. I think it could be fruitful for cultural entrepreneurs to actively promote and support grass root movements and political parties that represent micro businesses and contribute to a better society. The challenges are evident: Artists get little to no training in entrepreneurship and maybe sometimes are not aware of how large the cultural sector is. Especially when you live in Maastricht! The creation of entrepreneurial hubs or training for artists could already be a great step to tackle these issues. (Marc doesn’t know yet but… Things are going to change… so stay tuned!)
Do you consider yourself a European professional and artist?
In a way, yes. I benefit a lot from the European infrastructure and the education network. I participated in an artist residency in Vienna last year that was co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. We were elaborating the role of artistic citizenship in our society and were trained to become citizen artists ourselves. Yet, considering my cultural background and the history of my family, I certainly safeguard this part of my identity which much rather wants me to consider myself a global citizen. I always try to maintain a global professional network, because the only way for me to live in a small city like Maastricht is to know that I can get out when I want to.