[Core Conviction # 3] Dejan Nikolin of Switchback shares valuable experience about Kuwait’s music ‘scene’ and how it all started
Published on December 9th, 2011 | by Caesar (Kuwait Music)
Our next conviction comes from Switchback’s evergreen bassist Dejan Nikolin who through his conviction shares with us some interesting information about what Kuwait’s music scene was like in the 70′s and how it has transformed, subdued and then transformed again. A must read!
“Nothing will change unless the youth of Kuwait demands it.” , By Dejan Nikolin
I would like to comment on the subject, as well as some of the things that Ali Sleeq mentioned in his piece on the same subject.
” I have objectively been able to conclude that Kuwait’s music scene is young and inexperienced” – Ali
Scene in Kuwait is much older than people think. Back in ’74-76 (yeah…I AM that old), I played in a band in Kuwait – The Eclipse. We played regular gigs at various venues around Kuwait – The Pearl Restaurant at Marzouk, Salmiyah, Sheraton, various schools, etc. We played Rock (now called ’Classic Rock’), reggae, blues (sorry Ali, we beat you by 35 years <grin>), rock’n'roll etc etc. One of the most popular songs to do live in those days was Born To Be Wild- and we were not the only band around. There were 3 very good shops selling instruments (much better selection than today), and scene was very lively – a band played somewhere in town almost every night.
“However, just as things started to look rosy, more laws were put in place to stop licenses, general drop in activity, and lower expectations have hindered the progress that started.” – Ali
Actually, this ‘trend’ of putting laws and restrictions has started long time ago, and every year it gets worse and worse. At those gigs back in ’74, 75, 76, everyone danced, and entrance was free - band was paid out of increased revenue for these places. There was no requirement for a ‘license’, or to make it a ‘private’ event.
New Year’s Eve 74/75, I played with a visiting Italian Band in Sheraton (their bass player got sick on arrival, so I jumped in). Yes, New Year Parties were allowed, and were happening all over the city. Alcohol was served openly in all 5-star hotels, including the Sheraton, and we ended up playing until 4am (these days all events have to close by 2am). Basically, Kuwait of 35 years ago was Qatar of today…almost Dubai of today. Interestingly enough, at that time, nobody ever heard of Dubai, because there was NOTHING in Dubai in 1974.
Restrictions started n 1978 and it’s been downhill ever since. So, I must be a real sucker (or painfully dumb) to still play, still be
with a band (SWITCHBACK), but I have most certainly become a pessimist about the whole scene (Definition of a Pessimist – an Optimist, but with experience).
Also, note that I am careful not to use the word ‘industry’, because there isn’t one, as much we all would like for one to exist. As I posted on Kuwait-Music FB wall recently, nothing will change unless the youth of Kuwait demands it. But, they are too busy doing other things…
Dejan – Bass Player for SWITCHBACK, Kuwait’s #1 Party Band