Husband and wife, Amin and Yara, share a passion for art. Combining this passion with their love of music, they formed a music and art booking service for event producers. But with the music and art scene in Kuwait still very much in its infancy, this talented Power Couple are urging the public to catch up, develop a taste, and propel the scene to a new level.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers:
Hi, we are Amin and Yara. We run a music and art business. Our company is called Talentshop. We book and create artistic events all around Kuwait. In pop culture, the term Power Couple is often used. We like to call ourselves the Art Couple.
We don’t have a name like Kimye for Kanye and Kim, but maybe we would be called Amyar or Yarmin!
Yara was the name given to me. I am in my late twenties and I haven’t quite defined the word ‘artist’ but I guess I am one.
Tell us about your education.
Amin: I studied Business Marketing and Music, specializing in Independent Artist Management.
Yara: I have a BA in Fine Arts.
How and where did the two of you meet?
Yara: We met at a music event in which Amin was helping a fellow music artist. I was attending with far but familiar friends.
As a professional, what are the qualities you admire in your spouse?
Amin: Yara has excellent drive and loves to work on multi-level projects.
Yara: The quality control. Not the words one would normally use to describe a spouse, but he delivers a quality that I admire.
Where do you concur and where do you differ from each other?
Amin: I concur with her open-mindedness and differ with how we deal with customers.
Yara: We are literally like a Gemini – not opposites but a complementary contrast of each other.
He can be kind and compassionate where I can be cold and business-like.
He can be thoughtful and think ahead where I can be rushing in and spontaneous.
However, art is where we connect. We find art a lifestyle and a state of mind; a belief that drives us. It’s what we live for, and by.
Do you think being friends with your spouse is an important part of marriage?
Amin: I think it makes the marriage better. Friends rely on trust, they don’t take things personally and are understanding. If you don’t have these things, then you have a parole officer or an unfriendly room-mate as a partner. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
Yara: Yes. We started out as friends actually, then business partners. That’s how we realized that we actually gelled.
How do you handle a work-life balance and challenges in a dynamic work environment?
Amin: I think our work and life are very close to each other, so it doesn’t affect us as much as when our families get angry at us for not seeing them. Yara and I spend so much time together we don’t have a balance. It’s our family and friends that always get angry at us. At high season we have no days off. We do administration work on weekdays then at weekends we do the events. We pace ourselves, but we get tired. In the summer the workload is less which is more relaxing for us.
Yara: With both of us being a talent shop artist, I support his music or work but I am also working for my own company, and vice versa.
When do you spend time with each other? How do you unwind?
Amin: We are fans of films and great shows; it forces us not to be up on our feet, so it unwinds us. We are also massive foodies, so eat out a lot.
We like doing sports together, like table tennis, or going to the beach.
Our lunch and dinner is sacred time. We don’t eat away from each other; we wait till both are sitting at the table.
Yara: We both understand that a relationship is a lot of work but it’s work we are good at. We put time into studying, reading and planning according to the partner’s needs and insecurities. It’s a hit and miss, not the most perfect, but we accept each other’s flaws.
We unwind watching documentaries or doing art.
What is the best gift you have received from each other?
Amin: For us, it’s not about the best but more like a gift that makes our hobbies easier. For example, Yara loves to enjoy her music and to sing along so I would get her a mobile speaker. These are just ways that say, ‘I know you like something, let me get you the things that make you love it more.’
Yara: He just gave me an Apple Watch, because I wanted to check my heart rate and work outs.
Also, it’s easier to get notifications and is more practical.
A wardrobe – he changed my entire style. I wasn’t so well fashioned before.
Any memorable holidays?
We were both born in June, so it is like a holiday month. Paris and Berlin were amazing.
What are the challenges of being two powerful people at the top of your professional game?
Amin: The challenges are that not every client will need music or art and we have to be careful not to give unwanted services. Like if I am making music for a place, it won’t necessarily need artwork. The reverse also happens when the client wants art and doesn’t need music.
Another challenge is our culture and how we interact with people. A high percentage of event producers are women and a lot of media and art clients are men. So Yara deals with many guys requesting things and I deal with many women requiring things. If the relationship is untrusting it can be tough for work to happen.
Yara: This made me laugh – you know the weak spots! Well, being powerful and a boss and having two in the same household, we clash sometimes in how we do business. The method or the execution is where we have different opinions.
What have been your most challenging moments in life?
Amin: I am Kuwaiti, but my wife is Syrian, so a lot my worries have to do with her citizenship status. As a husband, I want to guarantee safety for her, and with our world politics, it can be out of my hands. It breaks my heart when countries ban Syrian entry to Europe and the U.S. Imagine me going to a location where they let me in but reject her at the border. It is sad but it is not only happening to us, of course, it is also a world problem.
Yara: Leaving from a war zone, leaving everything behind and hitting rock bottom starting from zero in a new place.
How do you motivate each other during tough times at work?
Amin: We try to convince each other that the project is almost complete or that it is a small task.
Yara: Being a powerful couple, one partner carries the other during frustration. We are both emotionally aware of ourselves and our partner, and not being ashamed to say ‘carry me through it.’
What have you learnt from each other?
Amin: I have learned that it is my responsibility to be a happier and a healthier person no matter the circumstances. This then helps the environment we are both in. I put much work into creating a respectful and pleasant atmosphere for my relationship.
Yara: I learnt to communicate better and be a nicer person.
Some marriages are ‘passionate’, some are ‘companionate’. Which fits you?
Amin: It is in waves but mostly companionate when working, passionate when we are relaxing.
Yara: It has to be both, but since we share a passion for art I would say we are more on the passionate side.
What are the keys to a successful relationship?
Amin: Trust and respect. Also understanding the other person’s language of love. It is hard if we don’t grow in these. The Arab world is a bit dry in knowing how to have different levels and equality in love, so we have to inject it as a practice in our environment.
Yara: Listening and communicating in the right way at the right time.
Do you have any common interests or hobbies?
Amin: Nightlife, food and traveling.
Yara: Is Netflix a hobby? We have our little sports like table tennis, walking or running together.
We also love experimenting with food. And art of course.
Tell us more about The Talent Shop. What’s the idea behind it and when did you officially launch it?
Talentshop is basically a Music and Art booking service for event producers. Since the industry is young we also end up producing some events and launching other projects ourselves too.
The thing that makes us truly different from other companies is that we built the company as artists also. Yara and I both practice as artists in the field that we book from. We bridge the musician and artist to the client because they both have very different languages and since we practice in the field we also know how to navigate it. Our job is to find the best in the field and then be very clear about the expectations of the client; what music and art do to their project. We advise and curate for the clients and also manage and coordinate the artists.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
We are interested in projects that break the stereotype of the field. We are looking for more collaborations.
How would you best describe the current art scene and music scene in Kuwait?
Amin: I feel it is very small and still very timid. In the art and music field, Kuwait is a bit behind. We really need to catch up and create work that propels the scene better. We are stuck with only promoting Kuwaiti culture but we need a shift where anybody living in Kuwait can make work and represent Kuwait.
Yara: On the art side, not the music side, I would say it’s still maturing. The public hasn’t yet developed a taste.
What are some of the challenges artists are currently facing?
Amin: We are facing things now where people don’t know the difference between art and decoration or music entertainment and music artist. Both clients and the field can’t tell the difference and that’s where we, Talentshop, come in. We help filter through it.
Yara: Any artist’s challenge is the fan base and other artists. But as a painting artist, I would say the fact that it’s not a reliable income and at the same time, a time consuming project.
What are your goals/plans for the future?
Amin: The goals are to try to find a way in which our company can be more stable since both Yara and I are constantly juggling projects.
We also want to focus more on projects that have a better impact on our society. To have musicians or painters only perform or exhibit in coffee shops forever is not really impactful under our company’s philosophy. We hope each step opens for the next in making Kuwait a music and art hub of the Middle East.
Your message for our readers:
If you are a musician or painter and want to become an artist, Kuwait needs more of you! It is difficult but you are needed. If you are more of a fan, learn what it truly is to appreciate artists. Requesting a singer to play Hotel California or a painter to draw Mickey Mouse in a kid’s room is not helping the artist grow. We must educate ourselves to push for a higher standard in the music and art field. We must teach ourselves to grow.