Zahed Sultan, a pioneer in social entrepreneurship and music production in Kuwait, sits with Men’s Passion to describe his goals, passions, and successes in the industry. Having always had a zeal for music, Zahed’s biggest push was when his work was featured on the number 1 show in America, C.S.I, during 2004. Since then, he has had the release of one album, ‘Hi Fear No love,” and plans to make his next two albums public during March and September this year. Zahed has revealed himself to be both an artist and musician, setting the stage to become one of the region’s top music and social-development tycoons.
How did this all begin?
Three years ago, my partner Abdulwahab Al-Ghanim and I launched En.v, an initiative to promote social responsibility in the Arab World. The company includes two divisions- En.v Media, where we can look after online properties and social media sites, allowing people to interact with one another on the same topic, and En.v Programs, where we create non-profit programs. These include the Lebanon Women’s Empowerment Program, Waste Management, and the Re-Use event which harbored a great amount of attention.
What about the second element of your career; music?
I like to bring social issues to light through creative sources such as these social development programs or through more artistic mediums such as music. Music for me is the best medium, one that is very close to my heart. Through music, you are able to achieve a global audience allowing your messages to reach out to a greater number of people around the world.
Do you believe this triumph motivated you to take on a career in music?
At first, I focused more on my other companies; I really didn’t think I had the right skills to put my music together, nor the right people to work with as vocalists or composers. My main goal was to take the core of Arabic music, and package it into something the people of our generation could enjoy. My cousin, a successful producer and remixer in New York, was the one who actually gave me that push needed. He told me just go to the studio and do it. So that’s what I did, and fortunately I accomplished everything I had hoped to.
What have you achieved after the release of your first album?
I actually got a few amazing things out of it. I got signed to Hotel Costes in Paris, which includes the largest compilations of music in the world. The most gratifying part was the fact that my songs were the first Arabic songs included, containing underground alternative Kuwaiti music with a sort of street manner. Many blogs since have featured my songs or remixed them, and I constantly receive calls from friends outside who have heard my tracks in the most bizarre countries. Similarly, MTV featured my third track on a site dedicated to emerging global artists (mtviggy.com) and they kept my track there for a whole week. Also, I formed a remix competition in which people from all over the world took parts of my tracks and proposed their own remixed versions; I had 30 submissions but it was downloaded by 1,500 people from 50 countries. It’s definitely a good feeling when you know your name can be recognized globally.
What reactions have you received from your music?
You will have people that love what you do and those that hate it- you just have to have a spine for that. You have to learn to take things with a pinch of salt and look past it, and like they say, ‘any publicity is good publicity’ right?
What are your future plans?
I am coming out with a new track in February with a lot of core-strong ideas in the videos and songs. The tunes are much more alternative and up-beat, and the messages deal with social issues which are discussed on a more subliminal level. When travelling this summer, I wrote songs on relationships, humanity, the environment and other topics. The entire album will be coming out in September/October, while the short album of two tracks and two remixes will come out in March. My goal is to create what I don’t know, to create and be created. I want to leave a mark in music, whether positive or negative, and make it become what you feel more than just what you hear.
Find out more about Zahed Sultan by visiting his website www.iamzahed.com, or by logging on to his facebook, twitter, or youtube pages.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #38 March 2012