Lulee’s Artist Profile
by Helen M
I need to start this by admitting that although I’ve known Mustafa Shaheen for over a year, for most of that time I didn’t know he was a musician. He’s not the type of person who would tell you he’s a musician. Its like he has a natural aversion to being pretentious.
I’ll start by saying Mustafa’s family moved to America from Egypt when he was eleven years old and he grew up in what would best be referred to as a non-musical home. Like many parents, Mustafa’s mother had tried to push him toward aspirations of being a doctor or an engineer, but by the 5th grade, it was clear he was going in a different direction. When talking about his life growing up, he half-joked that it was his mother’s unreachable expectations of him that gave him motivation to be a better artist. That being said, he was not completely without encouragement. He remains extremely thankful to his friends for supporting his ambitions to be a musician. They as far as agreeing to do yard work to help pay for his first drum set.
He also credited his friends with encouraging him to buy his first album, Californication by the Red Hot Chili Pepper, a band that continued to influence him throughout high school. I couldn’t help but think how his music would have been effected if his friends had allowed him to buy the original CD he had wanted: Will Smith’s Big Willie Style. All of his musical influences, from the Egyptian Orchestras his mother would listen to when he was a child, to contemporary bands like Midlake and Grizzly Bear, seem to be somehow present in the soundtrack-like folk rock genre he is working toward currently.
In 2008, he released his first album under the title “Heavy Hands”, he describes it as more of a collection of his songs than a truly cohesive album. Since then he has been working on his second album, which he plans on releasing in the summer of 2013. It is set up as a communication between himself and his younger brother; inspired by his brother’s contentious upbringing. While the subject of a teenager who is in opposition to his parents is a highly relate-able one, the concept of struggling through a cultural impasse within a single generation makes it compellingly different.
Along with working on his own projects, Mustafa is currently in collaboration with a musician named Vinnie Guidera. In contrast to Mustafa, who describes himself as having a background in studio recording, Vinnie’s background is primarily live music. They are both highly dedicated to making quality music, they just have very different ideas on how to go about doing that. Regardless, the listener seems to benefit from their differences. One of the projects they are involved in is going on right now. He and Vinnie are playing the opening set for a 40-minute play being shown at The Grange in Sacramento June 22nd through July 7th. You can learn more about the show, and the theatre company that is producing it, by visiting their Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/EnkiduTheatreCompany
But I wouldn’t be doing him justice to simply describe his background and projects. The following is video that was recently made to accompany a song Mustafa recorded in 2008, as well as two of his more current recordings. You’re going to like it.
You can learn more about Mustafa’s music and art by visiting any of these websites:
Or Follow him on Twitter @MustafaShaheen