Detroit Performs

S10 E6 | CLIP

Victor Ghannam and Jacco Muller

Producer Sarah Smith catches up with world-renowned musicians Victor Ghannam and Jacco Muller during the pandemic.

AIRED: June 16, 2020 | 0:07:30

(high strung oud music)

- I'm here with world renowned musician, Victor Ghannam,

and a musician that Victor collaborates a lot with

(mumbles) also world renowned musician, Jacco Muller.

Victor and Jacco,

how are you guys doing?

- Great.

- Well, thank you.

- Wonderful.

So Victor, how did you find your passion for music?

- Actually, I started playing a guitar

at four years old

and then my father,

who was a music lover,

in particular Middle Eastern music,

we used to hear it around the house.

So he bought me oud, which is the loot.

And I started to play that

(high strung oud music)

- What is the mood or the feeling

that oud evoke that really draws you to that instrument?

- In particular for myself I love

the improvisational aspect

that am using the oud string music,

you have a lot of improvisations


basically cradling it.

Your whole body feels it.

(Victor laughs)

It's kind of like an extension of your emotions,

your sweat and your soul.

(high strung oud music)

- When you first started with the oud

and getting more gigs and stuff,

how was it?

Were you on your own?

Or did you actually join a band?

- It started out,

my dad would take me to weddings or parties

they would throw me up on a stage,

and it just evolved from there.

I started doing gigs and years of nightclub work.

I started working with

some of the major singers from the Middle East

and then I got involved with the National Arab Orchestra,

which is

it's very

very fulfilling because it's so structured,

it's so organized and

I mean, they're considering it

the Premier Orchestra outside of the Middle East.

Which I'm grateful to be a part of.

(high strung oud music)

- What is the music that

the National Arab Orchestra plays when they get together?

- Well predominantly, it's the classical Arabic genre.

And we have some amazing musicians from around the country,

some great amazing singers and vocalists

and we've done collaborations with students.

We started out just a small ensemble.

Michael Abraham is the director.

We got together.

We were just we want a gig and Michael had a dream.

He followed it, pursued it and it grew.

And they've got,

it's a non-profit organization.

People donate to it.

We've performed at Saudi Arabia and all around the country.

(high strung oud music)

- What is it like to be able

to bring that music to families

that have moved from the Middle East

to Metro Detroit?

To be able to bring a little bit of part of home to them?

- (mumbles) if you see the reactions,

they feel like they're back home again.

And the smiles on their faces

and obviously just a lot of give and take

where we feed off the audience

and they're remembering the homelands

and a lot of them keep in mind

they left a lot of problems

in their home countries

and it's just so gratifying that we're able to

bring them back the good memories

that they used to have with the music.

- How is the Middle Eastern music?

Do you dabble in any other genres?

- Oh I used to play rock and roll, Beatles, Stones,

Jimi Hendrix, Back in the Day, electric guitar.

I love Chaz.

I basically love all kinds of music.

And then fortunately I was able to meet Jacco.

And I always loved flamenco when I was younger.

And it's so funny how that happened, how we met.

Evidently Jacco has an appreciation

for the instrument oud.

He is a master flamenco guitarist

and he was touring doing some workshops.

He happened to be in Detroit

and there was a mutual friend

who was a flamenco dance performer.

And I guess he casually asked her,

I wish I could find somebody that plays the oud.

And she says I got just a kind for you.

They gave me a call and

we got together while he was in Detroit and

it was magic.

(high strung oud and guitar music)

- [Sarah Smith] So Jacco,

what made you want to collaborate with Victor?

- When I met Vic I said, "let's jam together"

and I, then after half an hour,

we just played,

half an hour we were jamming and

then I looked at him I said,

"Vic we gonna make a record together."

And it's such a beautiful thing because

what I enjoyed most about it

apart from playing the fake,

he's like the master of oud.

He's such a (speaks in foreign slang).

I learned so much from the guy.

And so thankful for the experience.

But apart from that,

what I enjoyed also a lot is like

seeing all the different people just at the end,

everybody having a good time, it's yeah.

What else do you want in life?

It's beautiful.

- It was magic.

I mean some of the best times in my life

were sitting on a stage with that man right there,

with Jacco.

(high strung oud and guitar music)

- So what is the music

that you collaborated together on?

- Well the first CD was totally flamenco.

Viento del desierto.

It was totally Jacco's compositions.

And the second CD we did was Palace of Dreams.

- That last album we both composed

like half of the album is.

And like the first work one song

which actually the title is like Fellows of Dreams.

And I made that.

I composed that song

but also lyrics actually in four different languages.

And my goal actually was to bring the whole world together,

which I think at the end is the most

beautiful thing to do.

(a lady singing in foreign language)

- Now, let's talk a little bit

about disease times right now,

with the COVID-19 situation.

How is music helping both of you kind of handle

staying at home and staying safe?

- I'll grab my instruments once in a while.

When I grab it,

it just seems to help me.

I wanna escape from all the problems,

just temporarily.

- [Jacco Muller] Apart from the old negative things,

I believe there's gonna be a lot of positive vibes

out of this whole thing.

Because I think people are gonna be more aware

when there's live music

and like the festival or whatever

and people will be more appreciative.

- The appreciation will be there.

We'll come back hopefully and

make people realize

not just in music,

what's the most important thing in life

and even a musician will have a different inspiration

after all of this.

(fast-paced instrumental music)

- [Sarah Smith] What are you looking towards

in the future with your music?

- I'd like to collaborate

and do some more work with Jacco

and I'll get around to composing some more.

I look forward to

more performances with the orchestra.

(high strung oud music)

- What do you hope that your audience

takes from your music?

- I just hope

they feel that they came along for a ride

and felt it

to bring themselves to say that

we enjoyed your music,

we felt a part of it.

(high strung oud music)


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