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My interview with Checkpoint 303

Tell us more about the group (creators, information)

Checkpoint 303 (Palestine/Tunisia/France) is a non-profit avant-garde activist sonic project launched in 2004 by sound-catcher SC Yosh (Palestine) and sound-cutter SC MoCha (Tunisia). Checkpoint 303 creates experimental electronic music that aims at raising international awareness about the ongoing injustice and suffering of the civilian populations throughout the Middle East. Checkpoint 303 combines field recordings performed in Palestine with electronic beats, FX and subtle oriental tunes (MoCha plays the Oud). Checkpoint 303 has evolved into an international (Palestine, Tunisia, France, Kuwait, Algeria) collective of artists, musicians, DJs and VJs including performances by Cheikh Julio, Miss K Sushi, Mehdi Douss, VJ Sarang, Monalisa, etc.

Using site recordings from Palestine, Checkpoint 303 (or in arabic „Hajez 303“) constructs soundscapes that weave cinematic audio with experimental sound processing and complex rhythms. Through its compositions, collected sounds and noise, Checkpoint 303 spreads a message of peace and a call for the respect of human rights. Contrasting with the mainstream media’s exclusive depiction of violence and suffering in the middle-east, CP-303’s sound collages also report on the heroic hope that subsists in the region as well as the seemingly banal but ever so meaningful little things that embody a daily search for normality in a state of emergency.

One of the highlights of CHECKPOINT 303’s live performances includes being invited by Massive Attack to be a support band for shows in the UK in 2007 and in France in 2008 and 2009. Checkpoint 303 has performed in many alternative venues and spaces where the aesthetics and meaning of sound/noise and its link to social activism can be reconsidered and explored…  Over the last two years, Checkpoint 303 has performed electronic and live sets in several countries (USA, Australia, Canada, France, Palestine, Tunisia, Belgium, UK, Italy, Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina and in Japan) spreading the word for peace, freedom and human rights through a blend of twisted electronica, downtempo, breakbeats, drum’n’bass, oriental riffs and field recordings…

The combination of these styles as yours, is it difficult?
For us it is natural to mix these different styles, fusing electronic music with oriental sounds and with abstract field recordings. We are interested in arabic music but also in many western styles including post-rock, breakbeats, downtempo, etc. We are also interested in the sounds of youth culture and underground subculture in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and across the planet.

From what inspire? Your last song is pretty good.
We are inspired by the challenges of daily life under occupation and the fight of civilian populations for justice and freedom. That’s what drives our creativity. We are alqso inspired by the words of poets, writers, intellectuals and freedom fighters from Palestine and from all other countries. Our last song „Said Guevara“ was a tribute to the great palestinian intellectual Edward Said. You can listen to it the song or download it from our website.

Is it difficult to similar music works in your country?
No I don’t think it’s difficult. Performing electronic and experimental music relies a lot on home studio technology, a portable laptop can nowadays be transformed into a full recording studio. The important thing is recording sounds and finding the inspiration to use them in a creative and aesthetically appealing way.

What are your future plans – will make you tour and how one could hear you?

We will soon be doing concerts in Paris (June 11th) and in Göteborg in Sweden (June 13th) and possibly in Denmark in August. Our music is available for download from the audio section of our web site and can be checked out also on myspace. The news section of our website contains announcements of gigs and graphic work we consider to be part of our activist concept. To be updated about our releases and upcoming concerts you can sign-up to our mailing list by going to:

My interview with photographer and cartoonist Ben Heine

I post my interview with photographer and cartoonist Ben Heine. This interview was done for the first issue of the journal Very Normal People (, in what I write now. As the issue of the magazine came out, i`m allowing  to put this interview on my page.

Benjamin Heine ( is a talented artist from Ivory coast who is currently living in Brussels.He is a Belgian graphic journalist, cartoonist, caricaturist and painter born in June 12th 1983. He studied art and journalism and currently produces political art relating to day international issues. His messages to the world are coming through photography and illustration.

Tell us more about yourself, where are you from , what is your life like.

I’m a graphic artist living in Brussels, Belgium. I am 26 year old, I was born in Ivory Coast (Africa), and lived there 7 years, I now live and work in Brussels, the European capital. I spend most of my time creating and taking care of the people I love around me.

What is your job related to? How inspires you?

I have a day job, which is not related to art. This is just to make a living. It is time consuming but necessary. This activity forces me to go straight to the point in my creative work. I also work as a freelance illustrator for different magazines and newspaper.

What is your personal philosophy and is it any way embedded  into your creativity?

I have always had a very generous conception of art, I don’t like the way art is nowadays used for commercial purposes only and proposed to the elite, I think everybody should have the chance to see and enjoy graphic art. My artistic work is mainly the result of what influences me and inspires me the most in my close environment.

What difficulties do you meet in your work?

Every new day and every art project is a new challenge implying different difficulties. Finding creative solutions is what makes this job so fun.

Are you currently working on more than one project?

Yes, I always work on several projects in the same time, I don’t know if it is the best way to do, but I feel comfortable doing this and I think it’s useful to not be stuck on the same task. It fits my profile and I think I’d be even slower if I was focussing on the same activity.

Where do you see yourself  in… say, 10 years?

I definitely see myself probably doing the same things but in another country. Belgium is nice but it’s cold and boring. I’d like to find a long-term job in the art industry. With the current financial crisis, it’s difficult for everybody but artists are some of the people who are the less needed right now. Bankers and insurers are kind of more popular right now…

In the Gulf has always had an interest in people like you. Would you accept to work in this part of the world, if you received a proposal?

Yes, of course, I’d be really interested! It is even faster now to work with faraway collaborators with the information and communication technologies. Why not living there too? I have a couple of talented friends and artist colleagues living in the Gulf. I also think it’s a fascinating place in constant development.

You know that nowadays the principles are different from the past. To succeed, you need to be different. Our magazine is called Very Normal People – how would you define the  „normal people“ of today?

I agree, difference is always important but normality is also good. It’s funny to realize that very different people often try to be as normal as they can while many “normal persons” do their best to pretend to be different. I think it is related to your culture, your lifestyle, your purposes and your personal opinion of life. I guess normal people would not even bother trying to know what normal people are, they would just carry on their live as it is. And this is a great choice.

You’re really interesting and creative person with all your different worldviews. Do you have a preference for any of your activities – photography, cartoons?

Thank you, I’m very honored and glad to be interviewed by your magazine! Photography and Illustration are indeed my two main interests. I don’t prefer one or the other. My photos are often non-political while my paintings and drawings have a strong political content with sometimes a provocative meaning. Choosing one or the other graphic option really depends on my mood and the message I wish to convey at a particular moment of history.

What is your message to our readers?

Try to find your own path and truth. Try to make the people around you happy. Believe in your most crazy ideals and dreams. If you don’t, they will never become true.

This interview was published with pictures in VNP Magazine, March 2010

Ruslan Trad

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