A conversation with Middle East’s bluesman Ali Sleeq
We are sharing our recent interview with Ali Sleeq. He is designated the Middle East’s bluesman due to his passion for the music that is the blues.
Twist Online : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Ali Sleeq : I started playing in the year 2000; I picked up the bass guitar after I saw a local band perform, and thought to myself “that’s what I wanna do!” After 2 years of practice at home, I started performing with bands, until I finally decided to become a solo artist.
Twist Online : Who or what inspired you to get into music industry?
Ali Sleeq : I’ve always listened to music as a kid, but what really made me want to become a musician was performing live. It looked like everyone was having a great time, and I wanted in on the action!
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent album “Gonna Die With the Blues?
Ali Sleeq : It is a culmination of all my years of music, and my passion for the blues. The album is made up of 10 tracks that span the sub-genres of blues, from acoustic delta blues to electric Chicago blues and in-between. I tried to make every track as different from each other, so that no two tracks sound similar.
Twist Online : Any particular track of the album that’s your favorite?
Ali Sleeq : Track 2, the title track, ‘Gonna Die With The Blues’ is my personal favorite, because it’s where I talk about how I’ve struggled through my career, and that I won’t be taking anything from anyone. I will keep playing the blues till the day I leave this earth.
Twist Online : What kind of response you have received from the release?
Ali Sleeq : So far it’s been very positive; in particular the first track Dbayeh Highway Blues’ because it resonated with the Lebanese community (It’s a highway that’s always congested and links many parts of the country to the capital) and it also features extended guitar solos, which people always enjoy. I’m very happy to hear that people have looked to it very positively.
Twist Online : What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
Ali Sleeq : I much prefer the live stage performance; blues music is about expressing emotion, and since the music is also rooted in improvisation, every performance is a new adventure. No two shows I have ever played sound the same. To me, the studio is ‘work’, and live is the ‘play’.
Twist Online : You seems to be a big fan of ‘Blues’?
Ali Sleeq : That would be an understatement! I am a member of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, and also a contributing member to the National Blues Museum in St. Louis. I have a huge collection of magazines, CD’s, vinyls, and other memorabilia that I feel rivals many collectors.
Twist Online : Have you set some target to achieve as a music artist?
Ali Sleeq : My current target was to release an album, which I have achieved. The next step is to breakthrough to new markets, especially the USA where blues is much more revered. As a Middle Eastern musician playing American music, I feel this would be a great showcase for many to see the blues from my perspective.
Twist Online : Are you currently working on any other project?
Ali Sleeq : I worked on a few collaborations, my latest being an Ôacid blues’ project with local musician Altersal called ‘Neptune Blues’. I took the track rhythm from a 1949 track by Floyd Jones called ‘Dark Road’ and we added some Moog synths and many sound effects. Such one-off projects are what interest me at the moment, where I have the space to break away from traditional 12 bar blues.