Some 500 studio and live albums have been released under Omar Souleyman's name, though only two have surfaced in the U.S.
We recently launched a brand-new music series to kick off summer, called You Must Hear This. We've invited musicians from all genres — rock, country, jazz, hip-hop, classical, bluegrass — to share a piece of music that they love, that inspires them, that they listen to again and again. And we've asked them to tell us why.
The first time I heard Omar Souleyman was on YouTube. He's from Syria. Some people call what he plays Syrian techno.
I think what's refreshing about Omar Souleyman is the party — it's fun. It's really alive and very urgent. And he's not above using synths, electronics, drum machines and YouTube. He's really eager to make something that's vibrant today.
I always heard interesting stories that he has one man called Mahmoud Harbi who is a longtime collaborator — he writes poems for Souleyman. When they are really warmed up and going for it at a good-times party, Harbi stands next to him on stage and chain-smokes. Then he will whisper poetry in his ear that he's writing at the moment. Omar will sing it immediately in the microphone and run around the room, exciting people there. I thought it was quite exciting for a poet and an emcee to work together.