Chill out vibes, indie music and a goat. If you can dig this weird mix then you’ll love WonderGaap. WonderGaap is an Indie band based in Beirut, Lebanon. It is composed of four friends who started jamming back in 2013. Rayan Sayegh is the leading vocalist and keyboard player; he is accompanied by lead guitarist Michel Maouad, Bassist Ribal Moujaes and drummer Kevin Abboud. Their single “To the meadow” has recently been released amid positive reviews. As they’re getting ready to release an EP, we decided to sit down with this young band to learn who WonderGaap really are.
Interview done by Peter Constantin
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? And who are your major influences?
We basically play indie music; from Indie Pop to Indie Rock, even including a lick of alternative. However, we can’t specify the exact genre of Indie because we are still experimenting. As for the major influences, the Beatles were the ones who started it all, but we can’t deny the significant impact that The Kooks, The Shins, Foster the People, the Smiths and many other Indie bands left on us.
How has your music evolved since you first started?
When we recorded our first song “To the Meadow” we weren’t quite sure of the exact genre of music we wanted to play, that’s why you can see that the song is affected by different styles of music, it’s sort of an Indie “cocktail”. As we were in a hurry to release our song in the Beirut wave two album, we couldn’t really use our full creative efforts. Now and with the recording of our new EP, we have more time to work with our producer Fady Tabbal so you will find a story behind each now.
How long have you known each other? And why did you start a band?
Rayan: Michel, Ribal and I have known each other since we were young kids, we first jammed together in scout camps and we really enjoyed it. After that we started meeting during the weekends and very quickly we realized that we needed a drummer. So we asked around and met with a couple of drummers but none of which, we felt, could understand the way we play music. One day, through common friends, we met Kevin, and it was love at first sight.
Now for the golden question, why Wondergaap?
Back in 2012 when we first had the idea to start a band we were very affected by the London music scene and the whole Beatles era, so we named ourselves min the gap, which is a warning sign found in the London underground metro. Bu then we realized that there were a lot of bands, movies and even brands called mind the gap so we felt that we had to change our name. We decided one day that each one of us put two names in a bowl, and we randomly took out two words, and decided to use those words as the name of the band, no matter what. The draw ended up with Wonder and Gaap, and we couldn’t ask for anything better.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
For the three of us (Michel Rayan and Ribal), it was to believe that the extremely beautiful girl in Kevin’s apartment the first time we visited him was his mother and not his sister. Haha no seriously, for us as a band it had to be Beirut Wave Two at C U NXT SAT. We saw it as way to get our name out there but we had to compete with a large number of amazing local talents, and perform in front a board of judges whom we respected dearly.
What venue do you aspire to play in?
Lollapalooza or Rock en Seine, because most of our idols have performed there and it would be really cool to stand where some of our heroes have stood and played. We think that on these stages, you can feel happy and positive vibes from the crowd, as it is one that really appreciates Indie music.
What advice would you give a newly formed band in Lebanon?
Take your music seriously, get over the covers phase, try to create your own music and find a unique sound. If you follow these simple instructions and apply yourselves, the producers will find you.
Is there any local artist that you’d like to work with?
There are a lot of bands that we would like to work alongside; each Lebanese artist has his own touch and his own style and it would be awesome to work all together in order to support the local music scene and keep it growing. In the end we are all part of the same Lebanese music community.
How do you balance your time between music and university studies?
This is one of the most difficult things we have faced, but we have setup this sort of system that is working so far. We meet at the beginning of every semester and we mark our free days on a calendar. In order to record the EP, it seemed impossible to meet but we somehow managed to make it work so far.
Now what everyone is wondering: Tell us about the goat in your “To the Meadow” video?
When we first wrote the song, we had a girl in mind. Later, we felt that the lyrics that described this girl were a bit cheesy and we just weren’t feeling it. We decided then to replace the girl with a funny idea, a goat. The whole notion was very spontaneous, for example when we were writing stuff like “flowers in your hair, growling in the air” we felt that it matched a goat more than it matched a girl. We altered the track in a way for it to tell a story of a goat who does not fit in, therefore we tell her to “go away to the meadow” where she truly belongs.
The Beatles: Screw-Mary- Kill?
Screw Paul McCartney, Marry John Lennon, and Kill Ringo Starr.