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Jordanian music collective finds its ‘happy’ sound

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House of Afandi founder Karam Risheg (left) and his partner Jakob Hidmi are seen in this undated photo. (Photo: George-N. Al Khouri)
AMMAN — Finding themselves in a music scene consisting mostly of what they describe as “commercial and dark music,” House of Afandi (HOF) strove to stand out as a local hub for disco, funk, house and jazz music.اضافة اعلان

Collaborating since 2019, the members that make up the collective are more than mere colleagues; they describe themselves as a family of nine: Karam Risheg, Jakob Hidmi, Oun Jweinat, Babers Abu Dayyeh, Faris Nazzal, Kareem Masri, Kareem Abulrub, Rami HR and Hamzeh Alsheikh.

The music collective turned record label was founded by Karam Risheg, a local DJ and music manager, who, after a decade in the industry, decided he wanted to do more than just DJ.

“I like the idea of an outcast. I didn’t want to be just a follower, which is what being a DJ here in Jordan seemed to me,” says Risheg.

Driven by rhythm and ambition, he played around with the idea until he found his sound, which would later become the defining sound of HOF.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have that much happy sounds in Jordan. Everything is either extremely commercial or extremely dark,” he told Jordan News in a recent interview.

Scrolling through Instagram, Risheg came across a video posted by Boiler Room for a French DJ called Folamour.

“They were saying that it was one of the greatest moments in Boiler Room history. He was playing Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! by Abba. And I just had to watch the entire set. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with his music. And I started listening more to disco, funk and house. And I was like: yes! This perfectly represents the sound that I’m going for. And I went ahead with it,” Risheg recalled.

As Risheg began experimenting with this new sound in different venues around Amman, he found that the audiences are responding well to, so he took it a step further and started HOF.

In less than two years, the collective built a network of musicians and a decent following.

According to the members, “little moments” are what makes HOF what it is, from group dinners to collaborative EP’s to dancing to Disco Arabesquo as he spins a disc with one hand and eats 'arayes' with the other.

“I think what really makes us different is that we are all in sync, but at the same time, everyone has their own thing,” Risheg said.

Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, Risheg says HOF was still able to grow, as the crisis “brought the entire music industry together.”

“The goal was no longer money or fame; it was to feel less alone and to get through these times together,” according to the founder.

“We introduced a podcast and we started collaborating with artists such as Habibi Funk, Dar Disku, and DJ Seinfeld,” the musician told Jordan News.

“I would describe House of Afandi as more of a movement. Initially, the whole point was to create a safe space for everyone to just feel relaxed and express themselves. … We want to share these memories with everyone and we don’t have any rules,” Risheg said.

In the future, HOF plans to grow the collective and the label to shed light on other talents and sounds in the region.

“I believe in the music that’s coming out from the region and it deserves to be heard. We have sensational talents that aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve,” Risheg said.