Okay we’ve been slack we know. We promised you guys a creative friend every month and we missed February! Our bad, but here’s our March buddy who we literally hounded for this interview in Brunei (Thanks for being so gracious even though I know you just wanted to eat your post-show sandwich!)
Joseph Tawadros is an oud virtuoso, composer, and literal winner. He’s snagged the ARIA World Music Album award three times in a row, and played gigs all over the world. Tawadros is also known for his iconic moustache and colourful outfits. We couldn’t help but be inspired to believe YES, bright orange shoes are totally legit, after this interview.
HW: Your debut album in 2004 was called ‘Storyteller’ but your music contains no lyrical content. Do you consider yourself to be a sonically guided storyteller?
Joseph: Yeah, of course. All these ‘stories’, they conjure up images. I don’t think you need words to tell stories – that’s the beautiful thing about music, instrumental music, and the instrument I play. It takes you to a region, you see images. It’s kind of like the soundtrack to your imagination so the stories are created by the audience and that’s the lovely thing.
HW: You create music without words but all your song titles are very meaningful. Is that a conscious decision, and how do you come up with them?
Joseph: Well every album is very personal. I do a recording [for an album] every year, and that recording is like a diary entry, or an annual report of that year in my life. I compose to emotion and for me it’s about breaking down boundaries for people, to feel the music that I feel even if they’re not from a Middle Eastern background. So by composing to emotions and being very true to my emotions, I get people connecting to the music.
HW: What’s the best advice that a fellow musician has given you?
Joseph: Oh, I don’t know! That’s actually a very interesting thing. There’s nothing that really marks something that someone’s said to me but more through ‘actions’. I’ve experienced how people work, seen the benefits of being true to yourself and playing with intention. So that’s really great to be able to be very honest within the music and with what the music’s about. It’s not about making money, it’s not about fame, but it’s really about the music and creating art and to have the audience connect with that.
HW: Your physical appearance/sense of dress is quite amazing – is that something you curated to go along with your music?
Joseph: No, not at all. I mean it’s just a bit of fun! I’ve always liked to mess about with my facial hair and at this point in time, it’s just a moustache that developed. I used to have a very big beard about two years ago and then it just morphed into this moustache. I was playing in the Middle East and I didn’t want a big beard [there] – it wasn’t a good time to have one (laughs). So I changed it into a moustache and it seems to be a good look, and things just get added. It’s really an evolution, so we’ll see how we go!
HW: Do you have a nickname for your Oud and what three words would you use to describe it?
Joseph: Uhm, I don’t really have a name for my instrument, I don’t know why. I’ve never really thought about it – for one, I don’t know if it’s masculine or feminine so that’s another thing. The Oud is very magical for me [so] I guess magic, secret.. because there’s also a lot of secrets within the music, which is a beautiful thing. And that’s what I like about instrumental music you know? It can mean different things to different people whereas when you have lyrics that really puts you in the direction of what the piece is supposed to say so instrumental has that mystery. So Mystery, Magic, Secret.
Massive thanks to the Australian High Commission and The Collective for helping us get some face time with Joseph. He’s playing venues all around Australia this April so if you’ve got the chance, go see him perform! More info available on www.josephtawadros.com