Today sees the release of the debut single from Dubai-based singer-songwriter Hadi Sarieddine. Sarieddine is best known for his work with extreme metal band Benevolent, but his solo material is very different (the reaction, he jokes, “will be, like, ‘What happened there? This guy’s bipolar or something…’”) – leaning towards atmospheric, understated indie-pop. His debut release, “Ocean”, is a good example; deceptively simple but subtle, and melodic with a touch of melancholy.
“The song means a lot to me,” Sarieddine says. “Lyrically, the theme is duality. The chorus says, ‘My body is floating in the ocean/And there’s no land in sight’, which is hopelessness and feeling completely abandoned. And the counter line to that is ‘My body is a drop from the ocean/And the answer’s right inside’, which is introspection, connection and belonging. You could be in the same spot in life and you could feel complete loneliness and abandonment – all that dark stuff – or you could feel like you’re a part of everything and connected to everything.”
Sarieddine stresses he’s talking about a mental state, rather than a physical one. “I’m a hermit by design, so I love being alone,” he says. “Being alone is great. It’s not the physical aspect. You could be sitting in a crowd and feel completely alone. Like, I don’t do well with house parties. I’m usually the awkward guy in the corner, trying to look busy on my phone.”
Judging from the video for “Ocean”, which features footage from Sarieddine’s performance with bassist Alan Short and drummer Josh Saldanha at Red Bull Music Academy’s takeover of Meet d3 in December last year, he’s much more at home onstage. “I love the video,” he says. “This is the first live video I’ve ever put out, so it’s cool, because it’s candid. When we played the gig, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be in a music video, I’d better act up.’ It’s natural. It allows people to see the energy and the vibe of the performance. It’s a good intro.”
It’s also a good intro to Sarieddine’s thoughtful, reflective song writing. He returns to discussing the song’s main theme. “It’s about how sometimes we can be in a certain scenario and we try to make sense of it in a way that we base off what other people think. Like, the earthly way of thinking of things,” he continues. “But then you can also go into a deeper place, spiritually, looking inward, and have a completely different outlook on the same exact scenario.”
That’s a feeling he’s familiar with, as he believes any musician will be. “It’s an unusual life. It’s not nine-to-five, you don’t get a salary every month, you don’t have the normal sense of security that everybody around you has.” And, he adds, you have to deal with others’ doubts and fears about your life choices, and realise they often come from a place of love and affection. “Sometimes, you have to look inwards and understand how people can feel a certain way about the way I administer my life, and my choice to be a musician and live this unusual life; understand their concern and how they can feel like it’s weird and kind of intimidating,” he says. “But I also know that this is the only thing I know. There’s genuine self-betrayal if I don’t do this. I can’t do anything else. I’ve tried. I’ve tried doing a day job and having the regular thing. I just get anxiety attacks. It’s not good for me. It starts to affect my health.
This is making me happy, I’m a dreamer. I’ve got big dreams. I’m going after it.Hadi Sarieddine
It took a while before he plucked up the courage to do that, though. “Ocean” was written almost two years ago. “Recently I got a fire lit under my ass to put things out,” he says. “I was talking to two good friends, they were asking when I was going to release some stuff and it just got me thinking, like, ‘What am I really waiting for?’
I’ve been writing these songs and I’ve worked on my skills, and I realised I’ve just kind of been chickening out. It’s scary though, man. These are my words. My melodies. But then I was, like, ‘I can come up with excuses forever. I need to just do it.’”