By choosing an obvious oxymoron as artist name, Funny Death, AKA Jad Mroué, might have underlined his own paradoxical path towards electro music.
Born in 1992 in South Lebanon, Jad’s family soon moved to Africa for professional reasons. He lived in Abidjan until 2005, when the family moved to Ouagadougou to escape the ongoing crisis in the Ivory Coast. Although he stayed in Lebanon for two years at the beginning of the 2000s, he has only been back to live in Beirut permanently since 2010, when he began his studies at the art school ALBA. “My family is far from the art world,” says the third-year student, specialising in animation and particularly fond of manga. In Beirut, Jad has become an active member of the local underground electro scene.
“Many indie band have absurd names, it shows their sense of humour. My name also refers to the deaths of stupid characters in the videos games I’ve been playing since my childhood.”
“When I was younger, I wanted to be an astrophysicist,” he says. Indeed, some of his songs lead your mind to other universes with their atmospheric touch. His favourite electro group also has a flavour of outer space. “My ideal band is Daft Punk,” continues Jad who, like his heroes, chooses to wear a mask in his profile pictures. As an introduction to Funny Death’s first album Start at the end, he wrote: “In space, when dust comes into contact with a nebula, it slowly creates a star.”
Funny Death’s second album, Limits, was released online last December, a mere three months after his debut. Both are self-produced and free to download online. The tunes are a mix of ambient, downtempo, and electro, revealing his eclectic inspirations and creativity. Before those two albums, he released tracks under the name DJad. Then, last May, Jad decided to become Funny Death. “Many indie band have absurd names, it shows their sense of humour. My name also refers to the deaths of stupid characters in the videos games I’ve been playing since my childhood.” Jad then admits that he always had the feeling he would die in a funny way, but don’t ask him why!
As an artist, he composes everything on his own computer, a device he says has changed his life. “In 2000, my father bought a computer without knowing what to do with it. I wouldn’t leave the room. I discovered everything on the internet: manga and electronic music.” Like many students, Jad played flute at school, but his musical experiments only started in earnest when he was 14. “Listening to music was not enough, I had to make my own tunes.” His style is not connected to anything African, nor Lebanese, but living in the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso helped him to develop his skills and knowledge. “I spent all my time online learning about electronic music,” says Jad, who was able to download a huge variety of music from all genres. “Internet connectivity was better in Africa. It would have been difficult to reach and connect with the same level of musical culture from Lebanon.” (Lebanon has one of the world’s slowest internet connections)
Jad also got to know other Lebanese artists online, and had more interaction with them online than in real life. “The underground scene in Beirut is very small,” he says. “Most stuff is going on online, on websites like Lebanese Underground.” Though it is not his biggest aim, Jad would like to play live at least once. This might happen in fall, at a festival in Poland also featuring such big Lebanese names such as Zeid Hamdan and Ibrahim Maalouf.
Edits by Helen Southcott and Angela Häkkilä.