Bassel & the Supernaturals is a Neo-Soul band from Chicago that carry a message of love, fun and a personal message of the current events in Syria. Headed by their lead vocalist Bassel Almadani, the band has been able to captivate listeners all around the country with their unique soulful instrumentation (saxophones, trumpets, guitar, bass, drums and flute), buttery smooth vocals and thought provoking lyrics. This combination has gained them a notable following and has allowed them to further their cause in forwarding humanitarian efforts for Syria and had given them the opportunity to perform at South by Southwest’s (SxSW) ContraBanned show, which featured artists from disadvantaged countries and ones spreading an overall message of unity and love, and has granted them featured spots with Al Jazeera, PRI, Huffington Post and Reuters, among others.
For most of this year, they have been on tour around the United States with the mission to connect to their audience, attract more listeners, share awareness on the events in Syria and to spread good vibes in general. That mission has brought them to Huntersville, North Carolina to The Vinyl Pi bar to finish out their tour. The Niner Times was very fortunate to gain a short amount of time to talk with Bassel Almadani, the band’s founder and lead vocalist to discuss his and the bands origins, creative process, tour life and his first time playing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
NT: As you and your band are not as well known, can you please give us a short backstory on you?
BA: Of course. I am a first generation Syrian-American born in Ohio and raised here in the US. My parents and most of my family are originally from Aleppo, Syria, where my father was an OBGYN where he delivered babies in Syria, and America once my parents came over from Syria. Due to my parents being able to leave Syria, we were very lucky to avoid most of the conflict that my family had to experience.
In terms of my growing up, I pretty much had a normal upbringing as an American child but was heavily connected to my family’s Syrian roots through my summer trips there; I loved my trips there.
When it came to my adulthood, I graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Logistics and International Business and worked with Sears and Cars.com in Chicago and I now am a freelancer as I wanted to pursue my music career.
NT: How did you and your band come together?
BA: When I moved to Chicago and started to peruse my music career, I simply was just going around looking for other artists to collaborate with and over time me and my bandmates came together to form Bassel & The Supernatural’s, and we have been together ever since.
NT: Every artist goes through a phase of building themselves up and finding who they are and their desired style. How did you find yours?
BA: Well when I started playing, I was very interested in Indie Folk and its sound, so I originally started playing in that style. After moving to Chicago, I found myself going into venues that primarily featured soul music, and that made me start further looking into it. This led me to listening to lots of artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, and molding my sound with soul music to find the band’s current style.
NT: Your most recent release “Elements” continues exhibiting your unique style; how did you keep this in mind when making your album?
BA: Well, our albums in general are meant to give off a jazzy, feel good vibe, while also talking about the experiences I had as a first generation Syrian-American, my visits to Syria, my family’s fortune to be in the USA and to inform listeners about the conflict in Syria that the citizens can’t tell themselves.
NT: I see this a lot in your songs “Lost,” “Sneak You In” and “Aleppo.”
BA: Yes. “Lost” was a song with a dual purpose. For me it was a reaction to a specific event of loss in my family, but also is about loss in general, no matter how severe. “Sneak You In” is my way to transport our listeners into what is going on in Syria now and to peek at the experience of the people there that they can’t tell themselves. “Aleppo” is named after my family’s hometown and is about my summer visits there as a child, and shares my happy memories of being with my family. That is the meaning of “Elements” in general, each song shares each “element” of my life and human life in general.
NT: Since you have been on tour for a while now, what has your overall experience been?
BA: Tour life in general has been fun. We love traveling and through this tour we were able to see major cities and at the same time, stop in cool spots around the country that you normally wouldn’t go to on a normal vacation.
NT: Has there been any parts of the tour that you all run into problems?
BA: When you have 7 guys in a van, you get a bit car crazy when you travel for long stretches of time and there, of course, are days that are less stellar than others, but we always find a way to de-stress and improve our morale.
NT: How exactly do you do that?
BA: Well, one way is we keep a Frisbee in the car and just goof off in between lengths of the trip between gas, bathroom and food breaks. It goes to show that sometimes all you need is a Frisbee, a parking lot and thirty minutes to just calm down.
NT: How does touring affect you musically?
BA: It actually has improved us musically. We always meet after our performances and discuss what we did well and what we can improve on, which we use on many occasions the very next day to improve our live performances. I feel like this is a major positive of tour life and is one I want to keep. In terms of making music, we usually use our down time to hold jam session and brainstorm new ideas, which is always fun.
NT: Is this your first time in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area?
BA: While I’ve been here to see friends before, this is the first time the band has performed here, but after this visit I want to come back when I am off tour and have some free time, because I find that this city has a lot to explore and do.
NT: Last question, what would you like for potential new listeners to know about your music or how you wish for it to be consumed?
BA: I would compare the music to tea, you have to let it steep before you can enjoy it at its full potential. Listen closely, peel back the layers and let it engulf you in its fullest.
NT: Thank you for your time sir
BA: No problem.
Bassel & the Supernaturals is currently selling some custom merchandise, with the proceeds going to efforts aiming to help Syrian refugees. You can purchase their albums and merchandise on their website at https://www.basselmusic.com/store/ .
They also are on SoundCloud and Spotify for your listening pleasure