Mike Massy is a Lebanese singer, composer, actor and dancer. He recently released his first album "Ya Zaman" after nine years of work on it.
Massy, who comes from a background in piano and opera singing, is currently preparing for several future art projects, such as an onstage musical as well as a soundtrack for a film.
He sat down with Al-Shorfa and talked about his work and career.
Al-Shorfa: Tell us about your background as an artist.
Mike Massy: I come from an academic background. I started studying the piano when I was nine years old and joined the music conservatory where I specialised in western opera singing, Muwashah singing and western and eastern singing. I also obtained a diploma in dramatic acting and followed it with ten years of ballet jazz lessons.
Al-Shorfa: Can you tell us about your album "Ya Zaman"?
Massy: This album was released after nine years of hard work and includes 12 musical pieces of which I provided all the music and lyrics. As for the themes of the songs, they tell stories of love, life, the past and the beloved homeland. I was joined by 32 instrumentalists from Lebanon and Belgium.
Al-Shorfa: Were you worried about the date of its release?
Massy: People around me were scared and they were telling me I had a difficult journey ahead. But I took the risk and, in the end, prevailed since people loved my songs.
Al-Shorfa: Why did it take you nine years to produce this album?
Massy: Because I was not ready before this date and also because such a project requires a level of maturity that I do not pretend to have reached. I always learn from people on the street, silence and the details surrounding me. I allowed time to work its effects into my life so I could come out with a unique project and present it to Lebanon and to myself. My album was positively received and was not rejected by the media or the audience at a time when singles are prevalent.
Al-Shorfa: The music of your songs is a mix of instruments such as the tabla, daf, qanun, oud and piano as well as baroque music. How did you manage to bring these paradoxical instruments together?
Massy: This paradox mirrors my life and my country. The combination of all of these musical rhythms is similar to our Lebanese identity, which carries both eastern and western influences. It is true that I have an academic background, but I developed my music after research, so the end result is based upon spontaneity, honesty and passion. That is how you find this diversity.
Al-Shorfa: In addition to singing and playing instruments, you also dance and act. Tell us more about your multifaceted identity as an artist.
Massy: It is obvious to me that any artist must be multi-faceted and strive to have a strong connection to what they present. Artists in the West usually write and compose their own music. Personally, I have worked hard on myself for a long time. I learned to make and play music as well as act and dance. That has all helped me to have a mature presence on stage and in singing.
Al-Shorfa: What comes after "Ya Zaman"?
Massy: I am preparing for a new album, which will not take as much time, and will sing the songs of a famous and legendary Lebanese singer in a newer version. I am also working on the soundtrack of the film "Tanoora Maxi" by the director Joe Bou Eid, and I am preparing for an onstage musical for which I recently obtained the rights from the French writer Pierre Notte.