el-live’s CEO Georges Elchakieh interviewed by Canada’s prestigious newspaper La Presse
Georges Elchakieh was interviewed for the La Presse article ‘Musiciens sans frontières’ (‘Musicians without borders’). View the translated article below, or visit the original here.
The Man Who Creates Bands
From offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, he chooses musicians from all over the world and forms bands tailored to five-star hotels. A native of Gatineau, Georges Elchakieh is the founder and president of el-live Productions, a leader in the entertainment industry for hotels in Asia and the Middle East. La Presse reached Mr. Elchakieh by phone while he was in Vietnam. The colorful globe-trotting businessman offers an explanation of success through five items.
“The five-star hotels are looking for five-star bands.”
Georges Elchakieh discovered the vitality of the cover industry in 1997, when the group for which he played drums ended up in Jakarta. From contract to contract, 12 years had passed, during which he had lived in many countries before devoting himself to his business. ”An agent has no influence on the quality of the band and is sandwiched between the employer and the artists [...]. So I decided to pursue solo artists from around the world to create bands and choose their style, repertoire, their wardrobe, their social behavior and book gigs for them while managing their daily affairs.” The company is registered in Hong Kong and has offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Taipei, yet its character is all Montreal: the president and four other members of management are former music students at Concordia University.
“Anyone who wants to do this job can come to us; we are like American Idol!”
Living his passion in dreamy scenery: the supply of el-live Productions’ musicians is enticing. Around 700 to 800 individuals contact the company each month through its website. Sixty of them are selected for auditions via the Internet. Out of these 60, four or five stand out enough for interviews. ”And if we are lucky, we will commit to one or two. ”The great thing about working for el-live, according to its president: Finished, are life’s bad surprises on the road. ”Nobody is going to play in a place I would not play, sleep in a bed where I would not sleep nor eat a dish that I would not eat,” he promises.
“From the ladies’ makeup to the men’s shoelaces, no detail is too minor.”
Upon exiting the aircraft, new recruits are examined from head to toe. Even off-stage, Georges Elchakieh holds the image of his bands to be impeccable. “When you arrive at the hotel, you can come across the president of Coca-Cola or IBM. Obama has stayed in four to five places where our bands have been located. The presentation is very important here.” Not only that the appearance of the musicians must be flawless, Georges Elchakieh attaches great importance to the manners of his troops, and regularly reminds them of the etiquette of the host country. “Education begins at home and never stops.”
“Musicians have a say, but not 100%.”
Georges Elchakieh monitors the bands’ repertoires closely. No musicians can play what they like regardless of the chosen songs by his band; the songs are influenced directly by Billboard. Severe? Georges Elchakieh relies on a proven recipe again. ”If you want to play like the rock band Offenbach from Montreal, we will not let you. You must know who you are and whom you’re playing for, otherwise you will succumb to failure. This year, the songs Get Lucky, Blurred Lines and Happy were unavoidable.”
“The attitude is probably more important than talent.”
For Georges Elchakieh, the most important quality in a touring musician is team spirit. ”When we send you to Vietnam, the other six musicians are all you have. It’s your family whether we like it or not. My job is to make sure that it is a functional and harmonious family.” After each show, the band leaders must complete an electronic form on the course of the evening, including any tension. Georges Elchakieh spends half an hour every morning to read the reports. Beware of this strong-minded businessman who does not hesitate to send the troublemakers home. ”If you do something you’re not supposed to do, you have 90 minutes to get to the airport.” Each year, at least 10% of el-live musicians experience this fate.
el-live’s Oxygen band featured on Bangkok’s Rad Radio, part of Bectero Radio Company
Rad Radio is among the largest radio stations in Bangkok, Thailand. The station broadcasts international live music, catered to the nightlife crowd, as well as listings for the biggest entertainment events in town. Oxygen group performs at Spasso Bar, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok.
See the feature on Rad Radio’s website here.
Sherman Jones inspires children with his experience at el-live Productions
“He now travels the world, touring extensively as a drummer and a band leader. “Music teaches children to understand a language that is universal. I’ve traveled to over 30 countries, and music is the one thread that ties them all together,” added Jones. Mr. Jones is a graduate of NY Collective School of Music in NYC, where he majored in performing arts. He currently performs with his band, Oxygen, across Asia.”
el-live Productions band featured in local newspaper, Guangzhou, China
“Adding a couple of notches to the hotness ladder is their sexy, seven-piece live band from Canada, USA, UK, Romania and Cuba aptly named Wave.”
Gwyneth Paltrow joins Xpress on stage
During a whirlwind tour of Beijing, actress Gwyneth Paltrow visited Xiu nightclub at the Park Hyatt, where she joined Xpress band on stage for song. Click here to read all about it in Gwyneth’s personal blog:
or check out the video, she sang her hit from Glee:
Seven-piece live band featured on front page of The Straits Times, Singapore
Transit Band performs every night at the gig. You have to be very special to get this kind of attention from Singapore’s national newspaper, The Straits Times.
Rockin’ all over Abu Dhabi
At Jazz Bar & Dining, Hilton Abu Dhabi. Regardless of the genre, most music fans will agree there’s absolutely no substitute for the experience of hearing live music. The Band Maximum, a seven-piece is currently performing on stage. Their talent and good stage presence get the entire crowd swaying along with their songs.
The best set of legs to grace the stage
At the Zeta Bar @ Hilton KL. Sexy singer Jehan El-Dabbagh, one-seventh of the Transit show band performing at Zeta Bar KL Hilton, proudly says, “We rock! Every night’s a party for us. We don’t let people leave till they’ve had a great night.” Oh yes, Jehan’s one sassy, take-no-prisoner lady.
The soul of music
They are some of the newest residents in Abu Dhabi, coming all the way from the USA and Canada. They love good food, the beach and the small hours. They really know music and that is what they are here for. Meet Xpress, the six-member band now performing at Hilton Hotel’s Jazz Bar: Marc Veillette from Canada, base player and bandleader; Terrell King from Atlanta, vocalist; Kat Riggins from Miami, vocalist; Robin Jackson from California, vocalist; Delbert Mack of Huston, drums and; Canadian Matteo Parente, of Italian origin, guitar.