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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 354 > The trailblazers

The trailblazers

Seán Kennedy speaks to Firas Abou Fakher, guitarist, base player, keyboardist and songwriter from the controversial Lebanese musical sensation, Mashrou’ Leila.

Seán: Having released your fourth studio album The Beirut School in February, you’re also playing the Body And Soul Festival, tell me about what we can expect.

Firas: We just released our, kind of, ten year celebration album with some new tracks. Because we find it an achievement that we’ve been able to make it as a band singing in Arabic from the Middle East! And so we think it’s a big cause for celebration.

At this point I should do a little background filling-in. Contrary to what you might be thinking, Firas mentioned it’s unusual for a contemporary music act from the Middle East to perform all their songs in Arabic. Mashrou’ Leila’s openly gay lead singer, Hamed Sinno, grew up speaking English, continuing to learn Arabic as he wrote songs. While many bands from the region perform in English to try and extend their listenership internationally, Mashrou’ Leila went against the popular tide and here we are ten years later.

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About GCN

In this issue of GCN we celebrate sexuality and all the great things that get us in the mood - feeling safe, respected and seen. To that end, we have an amazing photo series by Hazel Coonagh of the current Mister Leather Ireland. We dive into the world of ‘cam girls’ and have a frank discussion of male sexuality from the editor of Quench, followed by a profile of the wild life of screenwriter David McGillivray. In community news, we look at the launch of Call It Out - a new campaign which aims to address homophobia in Ireland, we get the lowdown on what to expect at the TRANS-FUSION Trans Arts Festival and check in with the keynote speakers at the Gay Health Forum. You can also expect interviews with two super cool LGBT+ musical acts – Ireland’s SOAK and Lebanon's Mashrou' Leila. This is a good one, folks!