Yarub Smairat: The Colorful Violinist

February 28, 2016

By Farah Mehdawi

It doesn’t usually take much to figure out why I would want to talk to an artist. Ever since I started blogging, I wanted to interview artists and learn how they combat life with all its  challenges through their art.

This is how I met Yarub Smairat.

Yarub is a violin player who captures attention. Regardless of whatever value the violin as an instrument holds, no one denies that the melancholy in the violin tunes is what probably makes it attractive. But to Yarub, it wasn’t quite that way. It was much more than a tune, and it didn’t have this romance we would imagined. To him, it’s a fight, a battle, and a noble mission.

Yarub started playing the violin when he was 4 years old. Along with the violin, he took other courses such as Music Appreciation, a course meant for classical music. Yarub says that this course in particular helped him realize that he needed to appreciate music from different types, times, and cultures, other than classical, since it was going to influence his journey in composing and playing music.

It’s no secret that leading a career in any of the art fields in Jordan is a struggle

Having grown with much passion for music, Yarub finished his secondary studies and was no longer able to think of music as some kind of hobby or a pastime. All he could think about was becoming a full time musician.“I fought as fiercely as I could to secure myself a future in music.”

It’s no secret that leading a career in any of the art fields in Jordan is a struggle. Yarub was able to identify the challenges that ahead of him as soon as he decided to take on this career. “People look down at artists, and I think our society at large believes that musicians belong to the nightlife solely. And naturally, I had to pursue my university studies in engineering and business administration at first, which I deeply loathed. I had to be up to certain expectations of my family, which were nowhere near music. Despite the fact that I made an oath to myself to dedicate myself to music and live entirely by what it gives me.”

Our conversation took a turn from this point here. His eyes glittered on recalling memories, highlighted with rebellion, passion and perseverance. “I switched my major to music two years after I have enrolled in engineering school. I felt that my life had turned into a living hell in these two years. I wasn’t going to stay away from music any longer. Even after I graduated, I studied sound engineering at the SAE/Amman, and later, I pursued my higher studies in Valencia, Spain, in Contemporary Performance.”

It was difficult to ignore the fact that the passion Yarub had in many times dragged a certain state of anger, the type of anger which any rebel would need. Nevertheless, he explained that this anger was coming from his desire to share his message with others. “I think I hold the earlier generation responsible for not having installed the love of art and music properly in us, which gave many this belief that music belongs to an inferior culture that dwells between the nightlife lovers only. This has, in return, made earning a living out of music in Jordan difficult, leaving one with an ugly feeling of being an outcast.”

Yet it was not going to end there for Yarub, as he was going to reshape this anger into energy to serve his passion. “I felt responsible for .. making this stupid belief which society held about music and musicians disappear. I wanted to let music enter every neighborhood and every house .. Listening to music from different cultures created a sense closeness, amiability and affection, much of which we needed and is missing in our life. That was my mission, and I searched for people who shared it with me, who loved music and wanted to see change .. Those were going to be my mentors, my friends and my band members.”

It was clear that for Yarub, the sky was the limit, and he didn’t feel obliged to follow any form or pattern as a professional musician. The only rule he went by is trying everything in music, and with everyone. “I don’t have a band with permanent members, the band forms and reforms itself according to the music we play. The band members are from different countries, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia, Slovenia, Spain and Columbia. I think all of us were able to recognize that we have so much in common, and that makes us all think that our battle is one.”

Naturally, music composition wasn’t going to fall short on experimentation. “Any music piece goes through the phases of recording, mixing and mastering. It has become common to do it through technology. But we like to do it through analogue techniques instead. We believe that technology has created some kind of an audio pollution .. I think people want to go back to what is serene and meaningful.”

Back in June 2015, Yarub held a concert in which he launched his first album Ya Salam. The album was delivered after much experimentation and search for musicians from around the world who brought their spirits together on stage. Ya Salam is a product of 2 years of work, in which musicians have put the essence of their different musical backgrounds.

Yarub’s upcoming concert will be on April 15 in Jordan, and will bring together ihis band, Al-Morraba3, and New York Gypsy All Stars.