Madz is a 20 year old from Damascus, Syria, who has practiced and performed the art of beatboxing on streets and stages. Growing up as teenage refugee in Europe he became inspired by different genres of electronic music. He was passionate to develop a way of combining beatboxing with electronic music, and has pushed his musical and performing skills to outstanding levels through the years. Madz has developed “Beatboxing and Compassion” sessions with Music Action International for young children and teenagers. “Music and beatboxing was the thing that helped me when i came to this country. I met so many amazing people and now I love to pass on my skills to fellow human beings”
This year, all our programmes with young people were nominated for innovation at the Youth Music Awards. It is the amazing musicians we work with who help us push boundaries, which is why we were so pleased that Naeim ‘Madz’ Alnajjar, one of our inspiring facilitators, was also nominated in the Young Leader category.
Madz is a young beatboxer from Damascus, Syria, who had to flee the war in his country aged 14. He first joined us as a performer and participant with Everyday People, our group for young refugees and asylum-seekers. When he came to the UK, he spoke no English, and hated school as no-one understood him. He started beatboxing as a way of escape and to connect with people through music. Now, he has developed his own “Beatboxing and Compassion” sessions for young children and teenagers.
We asked him about how music has helped him in his life, his hopes for the future and why music is so important.
What’s your story with music?
When I was in Damascus, dancing and western 2000s Hiphop and electronic music and culture was a huge part of my life growing up. I was a really shy kid and still am, but whenever I get on doing my thing it always feels natural and right so that’s how I figured out that I enjoy creating and performing, but opportunities developing this was minimal. I used to have a friend in Syria who did beatboxing and when I watched it when I was younger, I always wanted to try and learn how to do it. When I came to the UK, I saw a lot of buskers who were doing beatboxing on the street and earning money from it, so that was a big motivation for me to learn it. So, I taught myself beatboxing with Youtube tutorials for a couple of months and then I started busking. I was nervous at first but I quickly got the hang of it and I met amazing people through it. Also I didn’t really have pocket money when I was younger so it was like a financial survival, and also mental survival too.
What interested you in working with Music Action International?
The first time I met Lis was through a group of musicians friends that I used to jam with in Manchester. She was really lovely and she encouraged me to get involved in Music Action International despite not having any experience or skills in facilitating. She had put the bets on me and believed in me to develop. It was an amazing privilege through the last three years collaborating with international highly skilled musicians and learning from each other working in a team developing musically and as a person delivering music programmes nationwide, as well as to have the chance to nominate some of my original beatboxing songs to teach the groups and to teach and learn international songs was a real blessing. Hold tight Lis and Music Action International crew you’re awesome!
Why is music important?
It’s really important to pass on your skills that you’ve learnt to other people. I feel like I’ve changed a lot of people’s perception about beatboxing by facilitating the programmes. It’s mostly about changing perceptions and sharing skills, it feels right doing it because it’s something that could change lives just like it changed mine.
Where do you see your music developing in the future?
My ambition and my goal for the moment is to create a collective that supports me. I’ve already created a collective, called Takeover a collective of musicians who work back to back with me. I am concentrating at the moment on looking for Rapper/MCs to work back to back with me in my future shows.
What do you want to change about the world?
I’d like for everyone to unite and forget about primitive money and power, and concentrate on looking at the bigger picture.
Which song helps you create personal peace?
Mainly electronic music like Jungle, drum and bass, dubstep. I also like lots of different kinds of music, like the Syrian artist, Lena Chamamyan, I listen to her when I have anxiety, also the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.