Ranya Radwan

10 Questions for Xriss Jor

On her experiences, her inspirations, and the Arab world's music scene

Xriss Jor performing.

NOW: When did you decide to pursue a career in music and why?


Xriss Jor: I don't exactly remember when I took the actual decision to pursue a career in music. It just came naturally to me, since I knew I was getting so good at it so fast. Time-after-time I would get hired to sing in pubs with a band, which later on evolved to high-end bars with only the best musicians in town. Then I began singing at big events. People started knowing my name and complimenting me. That bridged my journey to The VOICE and the Dubai Music Week. It kept getting more and more serious. The higher the number of events got, the more I would tell myself "I could get used to this!" And that's exactly what I did.


NOW: Who inspires you?


Jor: Anybody who has accomplished a goal is an inspiration to me. Following your dream and never giving up is no easy thing to do. With all the obstacles and competition that we come across in life, it is either fight or flight. Most people pick "Flight," but I choose to "Fight!" (with the exclamation mark). And with the very strong support from my Mom and Dad, my sister Neal, and my wonderful friends, I was able to accomplish more than I could ever imagine.


NOW: Who are some of your favorite artists?


Jor: Like I've said in several interviews before, I don’t have a favorite artist. It really depends on my mood. However, I would never say no to a mixed Playlist of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Louis Prima (a new phase of mine now), Raising Sand (Robert Plant & Alison Kraus), and some songs from good movie soundtracks Like Moulin Rouge, Chicago, or Nine. I love all genres of music. Just the other day, my sister caught me bobbing my head to "Last Resort" by Papa Roach. I guess it really depends on the mood I'm in... Damn Geminis!


NOW: Do you consider it difficult to be a musician in Lebanon? If so, why?  


Jor: With some will-power and a way of doing things, you can achieve a lot anywhere you happen to be (of course within the limits). I'm blessed for being surrounded by the right people to put me in the right places and to show me the right way.


I’ve learned a lot from 8è Art, the company I work with and which books my events and promotes me. I learned professionalism from them. From my Mom, who taught me how to dress, how to put make-up on, and how to look nice and elegant for all those events. From my sister, who coaches me for live interviews and my way of being. From my friends and my Dad, who gives me the confidence I need to get there, and who constantly follows up and is a huge source of excitement.


So to answer your question, yes, it's easy... but that's just me.


NOW: How important was it for you to win the Dubai Music Week? 


Jor: At first I had no idea what the DMW was all about... Then when I found out Quincy Jones, Timbaland, and Will.i.am were going to be there, I got all dolled up, bought a new dress, and really prepared for it. I wanted to ace it so badly, and look where it got me.


NOW: What lessons did you learn from VOICE and the Dubai Music Week?


Jor: I learned everything one needs to learn about behind-the-scenes operations and how difficult and important it is to be punctual, serious, and hard-working. I always tried to make the crew laugh, and it will always be remembered as one of the most amazing, exciting, life-turning rides of my life.


I can't wait to get the party started. I work better under pressure and tight deadlines. It's such a wonderful world, but it’s also the most difficult business to be in. Everybody else just sees the tip of the iceberg. But for me, no matter how stressful it was or how many tears I cried, it was very exciting and too good to be true.


NOW: How do you feel about Quincy Jones producing your first single? And when will it be released?


Jor: I'm very excited about working with Quincy and his team. Things are going great so far, we're moving forward fast. I could never express how grateful I am for this opportunity and I'd like to seize the moment as much as I can. The coming year will be a roller coaster for me.


NOW: What are your thoughts on the art/music scene in Lebanon?


Jor: My thoughts on the music scene in Lebanon changed after I decided to pop my head out my own music scene. I had been so swamped in my own gigs for the past four years that I haven’t exactly had the chance to take a look around. From "The Wanton Bishops" to "Abe & Chris" to "Poly" and many, many other performers (sorry if I forgot to mention any), I am so proud that our music scene feels a lot richer and more tasteful. For the first time in a long time it is music to my ears... literally.


NOW: Would you ever consider singing in Arabic?


Jor: Singing in the Arabic language isn't my style at all. However, this could change and it would be a nice twist and also a taste of where I'm from. That would make my peers proud, and I would love to make them proud.


NOW: What do you hope to accomplish in the next couple of years?


Jor: Like I said, if I get the chance to reach my goals musically, to me that is a huge accomplishment. What are my goals? To find the right sound, and to take it and run with it. To be well-respected and admired by the people I respect. To be remembered as somebody who left a mark and never went by unnoticed. 

Xriss Jor performing. (Image courtesy of Beirutnightlife.com)

"Anybody who has accomplished a goal is an inspiration to me. Following your dream and never giving up is no easy thing to do."