A unique and honest sensitivity.
A musical heart which beats everything from rock to pop, to funk, folk and blues.
"Tell you about me? I find that difficult. I'd rather sing for you, but I can't do that by typing can I! La LA LA la la.... Nope, doesn't work. My life story - is it relevant? Perhaps if it helps you understand my music. In short: I'm a child of the world. The melting pot. My ancestry is Arab and Greek. I was born in Riyadh, but had already taken my first journey in the womb, to Mombassa. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world with my family. My name means 'generous' and 'kind'. I went to an English school in Riyadh where I was born and where we lived. I am the son of an Architect and an English Literature Scholar. I will always remember listening to music on a beaten up radio with my family (especially on Sundays after a fried egg and Haloumi lunch). Sounds of the 80's filled our lives there (mostly Thriller and Bad!) We moved to London when I was six. That was a big change! Suddenly motion and things happening everywhere... I have lived in and loved London ever since. My first musical instrument was the recorder. I then moved on to the clarinet which I studied for a long and enjoyable time. I was lucky to have a grounding in classical music and to play in school orchestras and listen to some amazingly talented musicians, it is a treasure which I will always keep with me.
Rock music (mainly AC/DC) took me over when I was about 14 and I will never forget the thrill of listening to and discovering it. I can't remember the first album I bought (back in the cassette days), but I know the first two cd's I owned were AC/DC 'Live' and Eric Clapton's 'Unplugged'. I picked up a guitar in response at 16 and never looked back. I immersed myself in blues, rock and pop music. My other great love at the time was playing rugby. Rugby was a sport which embraced me because I was always too 'stout' and clumsy to play football. I played rugby well and captained my university 1st team but had to stop at the age of 22 due to some pretty severe shoulder injuries. I don't regret a minute of it.
I was a Britpop child through and through but my musical horizons started expanding at the same time and are WIDE open, I love and treasure it all. I listen to everything from rock to funk, folk, hip hop, jazz and classical. Oasis at Earls Court '95 taught me the amazing and colossal power of live rock music.
I wrote my first song at the age of 17 with no other intention but to give it to my girlfriend. I went to the University of Warwick to study Psychology and Philosophy. My most treasured musical loves are AC/DC and Joni Mitchell. If only allowed one desert island disc it would have to be Joni's album 'Blue', on that record she IS music. Music is my love and my life.'
When the Riyadh born Karim Fanous cites AC/DC as one of his truest musical loves and Britpop as his spiritual becoming, you could be forgiven for neglecting the fact that he is a classically trained musician, with a history in the clarinet, who didn't actually get into playing the guitar until he was 16. With influences ranging from the aforementioned heavy rock heroes, to folk icon Joni Mitchell, Karim has had a very broad schooling in popular music - and it shows. The release of his debut album 'Stir Crazy' saw him flirt with sentimentality in the delicate 'Cliches & Candlelight' and then charge home with the chorus led pop dream of 'Ship is Sinking'.
Unlike most artists that are solely influenced by their musical peers, Karim's song ‘Perfume’ is a take on Patrick Suskind’s book of the same name and is a tale of being a prisoner of one’s own desire. As a former philosophy student, he certainly has an interesting perspective on what he wants his music to achieve.
New record the "Mad Masters EP" is the genesis of his spiritual, musical and songwriting development. In the five songs- that draw influences from Greek Myth, the gritty love affair with London town, being the son of an architect, and old blues tinged with flavours from Plato's Republic -he explores darker themes and ethereal soundscapes, based on his baritone acoustic guitar, voices and left-field electronic flavours.
"I wanted to stamp my character all over this one, get to a sound that really represented what I was going through at the time of recording. That's why I played most of the instruments, recorded much of the EP and did most of the programming myself."
My Guitars and Kit:
You will always hear me going on about 'Biloo'. Biloo is a K Yairi YB1 Baritone Acoustic guitar and is the centre-piece of my sonic existence. It is a very special guitar, two frets longer than a normal acoustic (with a HUGE body) and is in my opinion a work of real beauty. Made in Japan, it is probably the best piece of guitar workmanship I have come across in my musical life and I had to search all over the UK to find it.... eventually I was destined to end up at Sheehan's Guitar Shop in Leicester to try one that had already been sold and put in the order on the spot. It felt like me. The longer neck lets me tune really low (down to C Sharp instead of normal E). This suits my voice and the chord shapes I like to play. The tuning and size of this guitar give me a massive and full live sound and a very distinct tone. I loves it.
I have a family of other treasured guitars, ranging from old to new, battered and true: my electric guitar Cassie (a gorgeous red Telecaster), and my other acoustic companions: Sinbad, Maribelle, Yamzin, Baby T, not forgetting Deano the Bass. You can find out details and more here
I record Cassie exclusively through Rock Of London Amps. Hand made 15 and 30 watt class A valve amps made by my producer and guru Steve Honest. These amps are simply amazing. Steve has put decades of experience working with legacy guitar acts (everything from Richie Blackmore to Oasis) into the build and design of these amps and it shows. After recording debut album 'Stir Crazy and living with them in the studio I ordered a 15 watt 'Neo Junior' and am pretty chuffed that it sounds even better than the ones Steve has in his studio (he's continually trying to steal it from me). Rare sonic beauty, with a touch response and transparency like nothing else. I also chose special fabric from a chap in Brick Lane which Steve covered the amp with and it looks magnificent!
Synths and Soundstages. My Writing And Recording Set-Up
Logic Pro is the program that I use for recording, writing and sound shaping. I use the synthesizers in Logic for most things sonic and electronic, from pads to making beats and drum patterns, to piano's, wurli's etc. There are good sounds in there and I usually shape them with Logic and Waves plug-ins before mixing or outputting for a mix engineer. When recording in my writing studio my voice will usually go through an MXL microphone and 1st generation Focusrite Platinum Voicemaster. My bass goes through that or my Pod. Electric guitar goes through my Rock Of London amp into a mike'd up Hermit Cab, or through my Pod when I'm being quick. I listen back and monitor through Genelec 1029's and Sony MDR 7509 headphones (and hi fi speakers and walkman headphones too!)
Whenever possible I will try and ensure that my songs are mixed by a really good engineer through old school and vintage gear (or at least that the tracks are touched by it at some stage). Stuff without digital modelling, just analogue signal path and analogue summing. I don't think you can beat it, it's the holy grail for me. The Mad Masters EP was mixed by Thomas Juth at Kensaltown Studios on an old and beautiful sounding API mixing desk, with some great outboard gear (we're talking collectibles and some choice new stuff). The sessions were run on Soundscape, which I think sounds top class although the system is old. Steve Honest's studio has a great analogue front end (back end too!), including API lunchbox and other quality analogue stuff and I like to get in there when I can. I dig API sound, it suits me.
Recently I had the opportunity to record through a Neumann U47 microphone with Thomas at Kensaltown and that was a blessing, you can hear it on 'Echo and Narcissus' and new song 'Dandelion'. We also got our hands on a classic Korg monophonic synthesiser (an MS 20) which sounded wonderful and ethereal, especially when run through a Space Echo Tape Delay and the API desk. Good times. You can't beat pure analogue sound, I wish you could get the same sound more easily, but you can't.
When recording with a band I will try and get in a good studio and choose drum kit type and individual drum / cymbal materials and sizes with the drummer according to song and style. With bass players I like the bold sound of a Music Man Sting Ray 5 string, or a Lackland, but it's more about the player and his touch, the sound of his fingers, same with drummers too... so I'm open.
Now then, having gone on about 'old school', 'rare', 'vintage' and basically unobtainable stuff... what matters most is still the idea and the performance. They reign supreme over the medium in which they are contained. Always.
Voice .....Well, that's from me, within me...