One of the very first indie bands to emerge in the Middle East, Soapkills was founded at the end of the '90s by Yasmine Hamdan and Zeid Hamdan, both born in Beirut, Lebanon, but not related. They drew their inspiration from Arab music (both classical and folk) and from electronic music, dub and trip hop. The group's sound, influenced by the production style of Massive Attack and Portishead, featuring Yasmine’s contemporary, personal interpretations of classic Arab songs, was initially dominated by a Roland MC-303 Groovebox, which Zeid Hamdan had acquired to replace musicians after the dissolution of Lombrix, a rock band that he had founded in the mid-1990s. Later on the band included trumpet, flute, saxophone, bass and drums. The result was a bold new approach that took more from the classical Arabic repertoire of their parents’ generation than the nominally popular Lebanese rock acts of the 1990s and early 2000s did.
Soapkills recorded three albums, respectively entitled Bater (2001), Cheftak (2002) and Enta Fen (2005), which were all self-released. Their music quickly became the soundtrack to the vibrant, young arts scene which developed in postwar Lebanon, and the band gradually acquired an emblematic status. The band's music appeared on several compilations and was featured in many movies, theatre and dance productions as well as in modern art installations. Elia Suleiman's cult movie "Divine Intervention" (Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2002) featured two of the band's tracks. In 2007, the band was mentioned in Time Magazine as part of "small but artistically-significant rock scene" in Beirut.
Yasmine and Zeid have now joined forces to curate a definitive Soapkills compilation album, which will come out on CD, vinyl and digital in May, together with the digital re-issue of the three original Soapkills albums.