Musicians all have their own unique story to tell – and with the infancy stages of the growing music scene here in the UAE, there’s a diverse mix of voices waiting to be heard. One of those is Carla Saad, who shares her inspiring story as a young musician and the roots of her band “As Per Casper”.
“My name is Carla Saad. As a child, music was the only way my mother could keep me entertained. I sat for hours every day watching a Betamax of Lionel Ritchie’s music videos; ‘Hello’, ‘All Night Long’, ‘Say you, say me’ etc. By 4, I had most of the songs memorized and I turned towards legends like Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson.
“I decided to take up the guitar but three weeks into it I realized that at 14, I lacked the patience to learn ‘notes’. I did however learn how to generate sound out of a guitar as well as the theory behind playing chords. I performed for the first time ever at my school talent show. The song was Bryan Adam’s ‘Everything I do’. I sang whilst playing the guitar and I wasn’t nervous. It felt so right. The performance went well and feedback was an affirmation that ‘I can actually sing and it sounds good.’
“During my first year of university in Lebanon, I formed a band with a friend and her younger sister. For four years we participated in every university performance under the ‘Music Club’. In 2007, I moved to Dubai and four years later I met Sebrina Riley. We jammed together and it sounded great. Shortly after, a friend recommended us to perform at what was then one of the very few platforms available to show-case Dubai-based musicians, Sikka Art Fair, and with that began ‘As Per Casper’. Our song ‘I Won’t Fall’, co-written and composed by Sebrina and myself, was featured in the first-ever compilation album of artists in the UAE titled ‘Sikka Score Vol. 1’.
The Story of ‘As Per Casper’
“I am Syrian-Palestinian and Sebrina is English with Jamaican roots. She used to call me ‘Casper’ because she thought I was the whitest Arab she had ever met. That nickname spread and I am called Casper till today by many of my friends. As for the ‘As Per’, it was suggested by a good friend or ours and with that ‘As Per Casper’ was born. Eventually, we added new members to the band; Rita, who played many instruments professionally, Rushdi on guitar and Sam on drums. We performed again at the Sikka Art Fair in 2013. Our set list comprised of covers as well as songs that Sebrina had written. Again, we managed to resurrect As Per Casper’s name in the music scene. Sadly, shortly after, Rita had to leave Dubai and Sebrina decided to pursue a solo singing career and with that As Per Casper was down to one person; me. By Sikka 2014, I was a solo act collaborating with different musicians, singing covers as well as songs I had written.
“I began producing my album ‘Hit The Ground’ which contains eight songs that I wrote, composed and sang on; produced by Joshua F. Williams at RecordPro Records. From piano to strings, guitar to percussion, the darbukah to the oud and even the trumpet, I aimed to bridge the traditional and the oriental in a rich full-bodied symphonic pop music piece. The album will be released around October -November 2016.
“In November 2015, I wrote, composed, sang, and produced the album “Sing ‘n’ Learn” for Baby Arabia; an album comprised of 16 Arabic nursery jingles to support a children’s language program that offers a series of classes devoted to the child’s learning of other languages through music and art. By August 2015, the band had been formed. Wadeeah had moved to Dubai from Bahrain and was looking for a band to play the guitar, Zachary had also recently moved to Dubai from Nashville, and is an amazing Cajon player, Moustafa had recently moved back to Dubai from New York and Hassam, who had been a very close friend throughout the last couple of years, took up bass.
“I’d like to give special thanks to the music platforms that supported us, including Go Play The World, The Sound Garden, Freshly Ground Sounds, Vibe Series, Metronome, White Cube, and DubaiEye 103.8. They created opportunities for us to showcase our work and helped As Per Casper become one of the most exciting talents in UAE’s arts scene today.”