Interviewer: Tim Finch
With a new album recently released it was time for The Razor's Edge to catch up with the Svengali lads, we had a chat about the new album, future plans and what it's like being the biggest metal band in the Middle East!
The Razor's Edge: Welcome to The Razor's Edge. Many of our readers in the UK will not be familiar with you, so just quickly… you’re a Dubai based metal band who have origins in a number of middle eastern countries. Give us a bit of your back story had did you all end up in Dubai forming a band?
Svengali: Thank you for having us!
We a four-piece band, with members from Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and India. We’ve all been part the Middle Eastern Metal Scene and have known of each other’s work for years before Svengali started. When the idea of the band came about, we got together and just started jamming and the next thing you know we got our first album out.
The Razor's Edge: When you formed the band what was your vision?
Svengali: Our vision was to always write and play music that would connect with people and trigger emotion... and that still stands today.
The Razor's Edge: You’ve seen some success locally with a nomination in the Best Live Act category of the Ahlan Awards and your previous album reached #2 in the UAE Virgin Megastore charts. How has it felt to become successful at home?
Svengali: Any notoriety, charts or award nominations we have are all thanks to The Svengali Family. Our little community made enough noise to turn the heads of people and organisations that didn’t even see Metal as a contender. So, to us... it feels more like love from our people than success in the city.
The Razor's Edge: You must want to build on that now and take your success to a wider audience?
Svengali: Our goal now is to play as many shows as possible everywhere around the world. We'd love nothing more than have some new members join the family.
The Razor's Edge: And you’ve played shows with some big names, Sepultura, Jinjer, Kreator, Arch Enemy and Septic Flesh. They must have been some special gigs!?
Svengali: Nothing really compares to getting word that a legendary band wants you to play a show. Playing Turkey, Lebanon, the UAE... our corner of the world, with bands we admire is something we will always find special. Sharing the stage with bands we grew up listening to is always overwhelming and humbling.
The Razor's Edge: What is the metal scene like over in Dubai?
Svengali: The scene here is small but tight knit. There are a few active metal bands and a couple of local promoters that keep the shows going - and the scene keeps coming out to party.
The Razor's Edge: You've just released album #2, Sayonara, what was the creative/writing process like for that? How does Svengali go about writing an album?
Svengali: Every song stems from an emotion or a story either JM or Adnan instigate. From there the idea gets bounced around back and forth both musically and lyrical until we both agree on everything 100%. This results in some... heated discussion, to say the least! But at the end of the day we can look back at the album and know we put everything we could into it.
The Razor's Edge: Lyrically you cover a range of topics, exploring the state of mind during an addiction relapse, uniting and fighting against oppression, losing identity, overcoming obstacles and more. Where do these topics come from?
Svengali: Life! These topics are a representation of our last 5 years. Individually and collectively we’ve had to fight through some barriers, but luckily we made it out the other side... and have an album with a bunch of stories to remind us of it!
The Razor's Edge: How much does your heritage influence your writing and the subject matter of the songs?
Svengali: Metal is the perfect soundtrack to what has been going on in our region. Our heritage will always be a part of everything we do... Whether it’s musically or lyrically, it’s ingrained in us and is reflected, intentionally or not, into our sound.
The Razor's Edge: The album is a monster, you must be pleased with the final product?
Svengali: Thank you! We are very glad you enjoyed it. We’re very proud of the final product. We did everything in-house. From recording, mixing & mastering…this gave us more freedom and time with the songs and helped us shape them to really represent the past 5 years of our life. the music videos and the artwork, everything was done by us and the family surrounding Svengali.
The Razor's Edge: So with Sayonara about to come out what’s next for the band? Where do you go from here?
Svengali: Hoping the pandemic is resolved, we want to play shows everywhere we can! We are a live oriented band and we plan on getting on the road and staying there for as long as possible.
The Razor's Edge: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
Svengali: Thank you for having us and for all the support!