Youinjordan and The Butterfly Effect: Interview with Louna Sbou

Author ········· Rawan Risheq
Photos ········· Rawan Risheq
Published ······ Online, Mar 2013
Section ·······  Culture

Noora Sharrab

Launched in 2012, The Butterfly Effect event series has given Amman a breath of fresh air. When I first attended one of the events in March 2012, I forgot I was in Jordan as I listened to poets and musicians from all over – Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and America. I was exposed to acoustic tunes, beat boxing, slam poetry, hip-hop and rock music. The vibe was right, the poetry was tight, and the music was off the chain! By September, I had worked up the courage to take a spot in the open mic sessions and nervously showed off my singing chops. This opportunity truly changed my life: since then I sang again, most recently as part of a newly formed band that has sprung from the encouragement of this event towards my confidence in performing. I am just one of dozens of artists who have found their voices amplified by such a creative and inviting evening.  In addition to the event that takes place in Amman every last Friday of the month, the series also takes place every last Thursday in Irbid. The first year finale included a six-hour musical marathon with performances by Akua Naru (USA) and the Digflo Band (Germany), The Narcicyst (Iraq/Canada), Rash Radio (Egypt) as well as local performers Noora Sharrab, Jadal, Akher Zapheer and Taraddod. I caught up with the woman behind the event Louna Sbou, the founder of, to talk more about her creative inspirations, business strategies and future plans.

Tareq Abu Kwaik and The Narcicyst

RR | What inspired you to start this series?

LS | Like many things, you start something out of a personal need. Everywhere I go I look for music and poetry events, and when I first came here [Amman] I couldn't really find anything. So, I produced a little show with three headlining acts (a spoken word poet, an MC, and a hip-hop DJ). We received overwhelmingly positive feedback and continued the events, which attract around 200-300 people each time. 

RR | How are the events in Irbid received and what are your thoughts about the talent in that city?

LS | Irbid has a much smaller community of artists, but the ones that attend are very interested. The first time, they'll usually come and watch – test the waters you could say. Then the next time they would be up on stage playing the guitar or performing poetry, sometimes they even dance and [perform] stand-up comedy! The main difference between the Amman event and the Irbid one is that the latter is smaller, as well as differing proportions between expatriates and locals. In Irbid there are much more locals, while in Amman I'd say it’s 60 per cent locals and 40 per cent expatriates.

Rash Radio

RR | This 2012 finale event was your largest production in Jordan. What feedback did you get from the international artists and how did they feel about playing for the Amman crowd?

LS | It was amazing! Akua [Naru] has been travelling the world – Russia, China, Zimbabwe –  but she said her experience in Jordan was life-changing. The people went crazy, danced and even sung along with Akua. The Narcicyst and Sundus Abdulhadi, as well as Rash Radio and the whole team really enjoyed their time in Amman. Clearly, the vibe was something we have never experienced before. It was a great success.

Akua Naru and Digflow

RR | What would your advice be to those who are interested in running events in Jordan?

LS | Market research is always the most important thing before starting any kind of project. Try to find out what people really want, who they want to listen to, who they want to see. Budget it and see if you can actually implement your action plan. Don't be naive. Don’t expect to spend as little as you think you might. The most important thing is to be realistic and to plan accordingly.

RR | Since you plan to start a similar business in Qatar next, would you try to export The Butterfly Effect there as well?

LS | Haha! Not exactly.  Qatar is a different market. However, we will continue to produce events with tunesisters, in the Middle East, Europe and other regions across the world.

Rawan Risheq is a Palestinian, a University of Toronto graduate, and a globetrotter. She held a position with Madrasati – a Queen Rania initiative, and is currently an executive board member at Hopes for Women In Education; providing scholarships for refugee women. Maintaining constant expression, she lives by the power of art; to heal and communicate across the world.