RIYADH: Talal Alshehail becomes quite emotional when he speaks about his debut show that opened up in Riyadh last week because it has been such a challenge to get his work out for the past 13 years.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the creative director of the Riyadh-based company, Capital Entertainment, said that the Kingdom is now providing opportunities, which was once a distant dream for artists. He admitted, though, that it is a nascent industry and more needs to be done for creatives to develop business and technical skills.
He said he experienced a rush of emotions, including a great deal of gratitude, when his band Trip Loon performed in Jax District last week. “This was 13 years in the making. I started this project 13 years ago. The band changed its name four times with different lineups. It was so hard to get it up and running and to do a show,” he said.
“Now that we know Saudi Arabia has changed we don’t have these problems of music, now it’s allowed. Ever since we started working on getting a band together, we have worked hard. Now there are resources in the country. There is infrastructure for that. So I thought, it’s time to get the debut up and running,” Alshehail said.
Alshehail graduated from three programs at the New York Film Academy — two Master of Fine Arts qualifications in filmmaking and producing respectively, and a diploma in cinematography.
His career highlights include directing a critically acclaimed music video in the US that was featured in both Yahoo Music and Rolling Stone’s Top 20 List of Most Awesome Music Videos in 2014 and the Saudi Arabian Pioneers Marketing Award for Best Video Commercial in 2018.
Alshehail said that his music journey started when he was in college in the UAE with his best friend Mohammed Alshaibi, who is currently a member of Trip Loon. Alshaibi had quit their initial band because he thought a music career was not possible, and decided to get married.
Alshehail, in contrast, persisted and wanted to live and work in the US but could not get an artist visa. “I couldn’t get a run over there. Then I came back and everything was allowed, but there was no infrastructure. Now everything is allowed and there is the infrastructure. So now everything seems possible,” he said.
Debut is roaring success
“We came up with a team that performed at the debut show, they were all Saudis. If the band members stay committed to me for at least one album cycle of development, production, promotion and touring, and they seem like they are committed, then we are going to change the band name, from my name to a band name,” said Alshehail, who was joined during the interview by Capital Entertainment’s founder Turki Alshagroud and co-founder AlWaleed AlShehail.
The debut show was a roaring success. “The reason for such a good response from the people is because so many of the biggest names in Rock ’n Roll in Saudi Arabia participated in this project, and also from (other) music genres … they all encouraged us. “Few musicians in America and Amro Hawari, a legend in the rock scene in Saudi Arabia participated in this and supported us,” said the artist.
He said the plan is to tour the Kingdom with Trip Loon, which includes producing more music and performing at wrestling shows. “Our next plan is (also) to have a single out. We just want to have one single, and then we are gonna focus on finishing the first album.
“We have nine of the 10 songs written for the first album, and then we will finish it. It’s a matter of just getting the budget for tracking it, and then we can have it released,” he said.
Alshehail believes that there is a lot to look forward to. “This should not be an opportunity that we should take lightly, we should focus on making really good material with a lot of merit, and not just prematurely develop things just because there are opportunities just to have a release out.
“I think all the artists have to really take this opportunity seriously and make songs that are really thought out and that have a really powerful effect on its listeners,” he said.
Capital Entertainment’s slogan is “Merit before Hype,” which encapsulates the aim to “train and to co-create content with upcoming Saudi artists in order to attract popular and critical acclaim, both locally and globally.
“We want to professionalize the industry. The resources are there, but we have to professionalize the music business, sound engineering, and live sound skills. All of that needs some training and workshops, and conferences, like there was the XP Music Conference held recently in Riyadh,” he said.