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interview

Sarah Shoucri

SODEC & shouc-shouc

Former publicist, band manager, music festival Communications and International Relations Director, Sarah spends a lot of time thinking about how she can better the world while eating peanut butter and dreaming of how to collaborate with foreign lands. 

Sarah Shoucri

Where are you based?

Montreal, Quebec

Where do you work? What do you do?

My main gig is at SODEC, a government arts funder in Quebec. My role is to help enhance the digital strategies of companies and organisations that are active internationally, in the music, literary, visual arts and artisanal sectors. 

On the side, I also run a small company called shouc-shouc which primarily aims to build international partnerships and trades in the music sector. I focus here on the Middle Eastern and North African regions, without necessarily being limited to them. 

What are you listening to?

I’ve been building a couple of playlists that have kept me very happy these last few months. The first is of Nigerian pop tunes; I love how their sense of humour translates into their music, and it turns out that I can be a bit of a sucker for sappy love songs. But hey, in this crazy reality, nothing wrong with some TLC. I also really appreciate how it’s lyrically free of swear words and thematically not derogatory towards women. It’s just easy, light and fun. 

The second playlist is of South African House music. I recently discovered this repertoire while visiting the country for the first time in January and basically Shazamed my way through the whole vacation. Holy cow is their music scene so, so good! Just like their food, fashion, sceneries, wines, gardens… South Africa is really a gem to be discovered for those who haven’t been.

How do you discover new music?

I really like Lauren Laverne’s show on BBC Radio 6 Music, she’s been a main source of my music purchases this year. But I primarily listen to Ici Musique which helps me keep up to date with all of our excellent local independent music, and beyond. My homie Vic Galloway also has a great show on BBC Scotland which makes me discover a lot of fun things. 

Otherwise, the Youtube algorithm has worked out for my listening pleasures quite nicely. It doesn’t discriminate on language, which is very important to me. So I’ve made a bunch of discoveries there over the years. 

Other than that, it’s just a lot of research. I keep up to date with the Music In Africa newsletter (which sometimes offers posts about top regional tracks) and love everything Scene Arabia shares, whether it’s music, art, or whatever.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

Last time I listened to a CD was probably not even that long ago, haha! But in all fairness, it was Help! by the Beatles, you sometimes get a bunch of weird versions when you try to stream their music. 

I’ve never been much of an “album person”, so playlisting my favorite tracks has been the way for me since the mixtape era. I recently decided that instead of spending 10$ / month on streaming platforms (that NEVER work for me anyway, except occasionally for Youtube), I would invest that money in actually purchasing music, and ensure that it’s majoritarily Black artists who are directly receiving my modest dollars. 

So I’m back to basics, discovering music on the radio (or web radio), and downloading what I like to my phone. Easy! 

“I recently decided that instead of spending 10$ / month on streaming platforms, I would invest that money in actually purchasing music, and ensure that it’s majoritarily Black artists who are directly receiving my modest dollars.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

At home while working (or doing anything else really), while walking or running. Basically, I listen to music during 90% of the time that I’m awake, my iPad is playing random tracks now as I write this interview. I don’t think I could pick up a broom without listening to music, it’s something deeply intertwined with how I function as a human.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

That doesn’t happen much. When it does, it’s usually sent to me in a raw form so that someone can get my opinion on it.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I really hate ads. Like, I really really do. But not much frustration otherwise, especially that I don’t really consume anything on streaming services anymore, if I do it’s from personal playlists I make on Youtube. Otherwise I appreciate that digital formats can easily be carried around and that I can quickly file everything that excites me. So I’m good.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Playlisting. What I super love and want with me all the time so that I can listen to it obsessively will get purchased and downloaded to my phone.

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I can get really annoying when I’m excited about something and find ways to force share whatever I’m listening to. In a deconfined life, I would trap my friends by inviting them for dinner, but then spend the whole time interrupting our conversations to explain things about the music playing. 

What can I say, I’m sure that I have other redeeming qualities since my friends would keep returning for dinner. 

Anything you want to “promote”?

I want to give a shout out to my homeboy ETYEN in Beirut who crafts delicate techno music and just released a beautiful compilation called “Beirut Remixed”. Buy it! 

Another shout out to my homegirl G.Rizo, a multidisciplinary artist and event curator in Abuja, and mastermind behind Abuja Art Week, Naija Tech Creatives, and the House House House podcast / event series. Check her out and support! 

I would greatly appreciate that anyone still reading get to know the music scene from Beirut and support however they can. On top of dealing with COVID in a collapsed economy, the explosion on August 4th basically destroyed the city’s artistic neighborhoods : venues, studios, equipment, everything. Bandcamp has recently published a great piece highlighting some of the city’s talent, and my friend Amani Semaan, Director of the Beirut and Beyond Music Festival, is collaborating in maintaining a trusted list of ways people can directly support specific causes (inside and outside the cultural scene)

Otherwise if people are interested in knowing more about my work, everything is more or less compiled here.

"the Youtube algorithm has worked out for my listening pleasures quite nicely. It doesn’t discriminate on language, which is very important to me. So I’ve made a bunch of discoveries there over the years."

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