There’s been a surge in local talent, small businesses, innovative start ups and UAE-based people going for gold when it comes to entertainment, e-commerce, entrepreneurial efforts and generally following their dreams! We cast a spotlight on some of the country’s biggest, newest and most creative standouts…
KHARSHA: EPIC DRUMMING
Not so long ago, the FACT team stumbled upon some incredibly cool individuals, dressed in what can only be described as a cross between the Japanese hakama and the Emirati kandora, at a local event. With some good ol’ social media snooping, we found the band that has got everyone’s heart beating to sound of their drums – Kharsha. Here, Shabana Adam talks to the creative ensemble about what it’s like to bring their drumming skills to UAE audiences…
Call them the emblem of creativity, the face of multiculturalism or even the musical ambassadors of the UAE, one thing is guaranteed; there’s no way you can walk past Kharsha Drums without being utterly mesmerised. When the group is performing, expect them to wow every member of the audience with their unbound energy and intricate instrument skills. It’s no surprise to us that the name Kharsha translates to “excitement” or “epic” – because THAT is the feeling you’ll get when this talented crop whip out their drumsticks and play like it’s the last thing they’ll do.
Founded by young Yotaro Matsutani, a Japanese student in the capital, Kharsha Drums’ story is one of when the stars align and fate works its magic. At an event held in JODCO (Japan Oil Development Co.) Abu Dhabi’s guesthouse, a random meeting between Yotaro and Taryam Al Katheeri, the founder of the Japanese Club in the Petroleum Institute, sparked a friendship that would eventually lead to forming one of the UAE’s most-talkedabout and first-of-its-kind groups.
A year later, Yotaro applied for Zayed University in Abu Dhabi as an international student to continue studying in the UAE and that’s when he decided to form a drumming team with Emirati people he had befriended. “We had our first performance offer from the Japanese School in Abu Dhabi,” Yotaro recalls. “We performed on their sports day in January 2017 with four members, and after that we decided to become Kharsha.”
Fast forward one year and Kharsha is now made up of three male and three female members; Yotaro Matsutani (founder and leader of Kharsha), Taryam Al Katheeri (co-founder of Kharsha), Tayammum Al Katheeri, Misa Hayashi, Amna Al Darmaki (manager of the cultural section of Kharsha), and Hessa Al Shamsi. And as far as creative, niche hobbies go, drumming, especially the Kharsha way, is definitely an innovative craft in the UAE.
“For us, we count ourselves as musical cultural ambassadors,” Yotaro says. “We believe in promoting positive cultural exchange between the UAE and Japan. We try to show people how two different cultures can unite together and produce something so beautiful and so positive,” he adds. “Additionally, we want everyone to get our positive vibes and energy and excitement that we are trying to convey during the performances. What we want the audience to feel is that these guys are KHARSHA ‘EPIC’.” Some of the team’s favourite and monumental performances include playing at the World Government Summit 2017, Inakaya Restaurant’s Sakura Festival 2017, National Day Celebrations at Manarat Al Saadiyat 2017, and Wokyo’s Hokkaido Ramen Festival 2017.
It’s a testament to their unique talent and passion for playing the drums that Kharsha has accomplished so much, on great stages at huge events, in such a short space of time. So how do they keep motivated to continue alongside everyday life and studies? “Each member in Kharsha has her/his own way and source of motivation, but we are all connected with the enormous support we are getting from our fans here,” Yotaro says. “Nothing keeps us going and trying to improve every time other than our loyal fans who have been supporting us since the beginning. Our inspiration is to make a change in the country and the region by challenging ourselves and doing something out of the norm.”
Talking of challenges, it’s hard to believe that the group doesn’t actually have a dedicated space in which to practice and perfect their techniques. “The hardest aspect in our team is that we mostly practice in the street in the morning, since we don’t have a studio to practice at, and parks are mostly empty in the morning so no one will be annoyed by our drumming,” Yotaro explains. “The members don’t mind the harsh practice conditions, since all of us love what we do, and prefer practicing outdoors in the harsh environment which is similar to our performance environment,” he continues. “As for the hard and long practice hours, we as non-musicians understand the importance of that, and the only way we overcome the pain and sorrow from the practice is by remembering the continuous support of our fans and families, and how rewarding that would be after them seeing us improve in our performances.”
Most of the members in Kharsha have no experience or musical background, but they all share a love for music and expressing strong messages through their drums. So, their advice to young people would be: “As long as you are passionate about what you are doing, purse what you love even if you are facing opposition from your parents or friends. There will be a day when they recognise you, for sure.” You’ll be seeing more of the group this year as March 2018 marks the beginning of a collaboration with Manarat Al Saadiyat to host drumming sessions for adults and kids. Aside from that, Kharsha Drums has simple goals:
“We hope that we can survive our second year by maintaining our current quality of shows and increasing the number of drummers in the team,” Yotaro says. “We hope that by the end of this year we will be able to have our own studio or at least access to a studio where we can practice indoors every now and then.” For a newly-born group bringing such crazy-cool, fun and fascinating entertainment and expression to the UAE, these self-proclaimed musical ambassadors are the kind of role models that every young person can look up to. With every beat of the drum, Kharsha represents cultural diversity, appreciation and hope – all the things that we already love about the UAE.
GO: FOLLOW @KHARSHA_DRUMS ON INSTAGRAM FOR ALL THE LATEST INFO ON PERFORMANCES AND MORE FROM THE BAND.