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Long Beach, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Long Beach, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Halimede: A Symphonious Synthesis of Pop and Rock"

Sarah Al-Mulla, lead woman of Halimede, took some time to speak with Progressive Man about how she first got her start in music and how she stumbled upon Dave Chetkin, Wade Wilkinson, and Mark Cox, the fantastic instrumentalists that round out Halimede. Fusing elements of pop and rock, Halimede has carved out their own niche in the music scene. Take a listen to their song “Sincere Lust” and read on to learn all about this up-and-coming band.

Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Halimede front-woman Sarah Al-Mulla. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Sarah! Let’s dive right into things here, Sarah; you’re a singer, a pianist, and a guitar player, which one of these was your first love and how did you first get into it?

As most children, I, at one time, had a dalliance with the notion of becoming an axe wielding rock star. On the other hand, I have always been captivated by the beauty of classical piano ever since I can remember, and knew, somehow, that I was destined to get off the metaphorical bench and sit on a real one.

By the time I was six my father finally gave in to my relentless, and apparently effective, annoying begging techniques and bought me a piano, with the promise that I’d take lessons. I secretly believed that as soon as I sat on the bench, the music would bleed out of me and that my fingers would instantly perform magic. As that was not the case, I took lessons but quit two years later as I just couldn’t wrap my mind around having to learn sheet music.

At 16 I felt an inexplicable void in my life, so I bought a Roland keyboard, locked myself in my room for a couple months and composed 14 contemporary classical piano pieces, that was the beginning of my musical renaissance, so to speak.

As I understand it, the band was formed, as many bands are, with the help of Craigslist. The two initial members of Halimede were David Chetkin (Drums) and yourself, who met through the site. What was it that made you start browsing around online in the first place? Was there a particular event that lit that fire?

That’s correct, David and I met via craigslist. Overall, I prefer a more organic meeting of the minds and talent; however, at that time, I was looking for opportunities to gain some film scoring experience, as that was, and still is, something I’m extremely interested in pursuing.

As I was going through different websites, I thought I’d just briefly check craigslist, not expecting to find anything of interest. I happened to come across Dave’s ad in search of a female singer/songwriter and thought “why not?”

Two days later we met up to talk about what we were looking for musically, and by that weekend we were recording at Mambo Sound and Recording in Long Beach. As the saying goes, good things happen fast, and great things happen all at once.

So how were the rest of the members found? Was it done entirely through Craigslist?

Dave and I had been practicing and performing together for some months and we decided it was time to start recording the album. We were without a bassist and guitarist, but figured that we’d lay down all the tracks we could and fill in the gaps later.

The album was engineered by Wade (Wilkinson) who really liked our material. As the recording process progressed, he decided to join the band and lay down bass on the remaining songs. Shortly thereafter, as we were still looking for a guitarist, Mark (Cox), Wade’s colleague and longtime friend, decided to join our project. I had previously heard Mark play with one of his other bands, so we were glad to have him on board.

The four of us have now been playing together for about two years, I think. It’s really hard to discern the exact amount of time we’ve been together, as playing with these guys is so natural and organic that I feel as though I’ve always played with them. I’m very fortunate to be in such great company with such a caring and talented group of guys who are as committed to our music and journey as I am.

HalimedeFor those who don’t know (like me until I did a quick search on Google), Halimede is a reference to Greek mythology and also happens to be the name of a tiny moon orbiting Neptune. How did you guys come up with the band name? Would you happen to just be Mythology or Astronomy aficionados?

This is always a hard question for me to answer, I’m not so sure why. Essentially, Dave and I had been playing for a couple months and he wanted to start performing live, so he suggested that I start thinking of some band names. Dave has this knack for coming up with band and song names, something I’m kind of horrible at.

We ran through a couple ideas, none of which stuck. He wanted a completely original name and scoured the internet for something unique, which is quite difficult as there are millions of bands out there. A couple weeks later, he came to practice with “Halimede.” I was a little dumbfounded at first as it sounded like the most random word I had heard i - Progressive Man

"Interview by Vents Magazine"

So who’s Halimede?

Halimede is composed of Sarah Al-Mulla (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar), Mark Cox (guitar), Wade Wilkinson (bass) and David Chetkin (drums and percussion). As a unit, we are collectively from Long Beach, California, though Sarah is originally from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We have all played instruments from a young age and, independently, participated in various music projects before forming Halimede.

Sarah: The guys definitely have a one up on me, in that they have been playing instruments for longer than I have, as they are older than I. They bring the knowledge and experience of seasoned musicians and recording professionals that I do not yet possess, making being in a band with them a mutual passion, a pleasure, and learning experience for me.

When it comes down to it, we are a small group of people that are doing a very simple thing, playing original material that we believe in, and trying to spread appreciation for independent original music.

How you guys came all together and created this band?

I, Sarah, met David on craigslist, of all places; I answered an ad he placed in search of a female singer/songwriter, as he was in the middle of recording with one of his bands at that time. He was originally in search of someone to contribute to that project. After meeting at a Denny’s, I gave him a demo CD of my original music I had self recorded. He listened to the demos, called me later that night and invited me to go into Mambo Sound & Recording, in Long Beach, CA, to record a couple tracks over the weekend. Of course I instantly agreed, after which, friends and family thought I was crazy, only because here’s a girl in her early 20s agreeing to meet a man she met online in an industrial area of Long Beach, it sounds like the beginning of a scary movie. Though, it would prove to be the beginning of something fantastic.

Dave encouraged me to warm up on the piano and play whatever I wanted, which I did for hours. Wade, a sound engineer at Mambo, recorded everything I played, which is how I initially met Wade, though Dave and Wade had previously worked on albums together, since Dave had been in and out of Mambo with his various prior bands.

After playing for a couple hours, Dave decided that he liked my original compositions and wanted to move forward with playing my material instead of having me contribute to one of his existing projects.

Dave and I played together for a couple months, tightened up the material and decided to proceed with the recording process. As life would have it, we decided to record at Mambo, with Wade at the engineering helm. At that time, we were out of a guitarist and bassist, but figured we’d lay down the piano and drum tracks and find contributing artists to fill in the gaps at a later time. With not too much convincing, Wade eventually decided to play bass with us, both on the album and join us as part of a line up, since he enjoyed the material. We decided to ask Mark, Wade’s long time friend who also works out of Mambo, to join the band as our guitarist as he is extremely talented and was interested in the music as well.

Everything just lined up effortlessly, we simply made the obvious decision to play together, as it seemed that the universe was begging us to do.

What’s the story behind the band’s name?

When Dave and I started playing, we ran through a couple ideas for band names. He is really great at thinking up weird names for things, and usually names our songs as well. Dave wanted something that was original and previously unheard of, did some research and came up with the name Halimede, which is a satellite that orbits Neptune. It seemed to be perfect because it has one of the most eccentric orbits, which seems to fit us and our material in that it’s such a mix of genres. I should also note that Halimede is the name of a Greek nymph, which, I suppose works in our favor as well.

What are your music influences?

I am mostly influenced by whatever I happen to be listening to at that specific time, as I enjoy a wide array of music. Mostly, if I had to pin down specific influences I would have to list Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, which are the most obvious choices, but that list would also have to include, Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer, St. Vincent, Phillip Glass, Emiliana Torrini and Aimee Mann. The list could go on forever, but these are just a few off hand. I tend to listen to a lot of female singer songwriters, partly because I am one, and there seems to be some sort of innate relatability. All in all, I’ve just always played what I like hearing.

What’s your method at the time of writing new material?

I have always been a solitary writer. Even when trying to co-write songs with people, we meet, hash out a couple ideas, then I go home and work it out on my own. I usually just sit at the piano, blank out and start playing. Once I get something that I think could turn into - Vents Magazine

"Sarah Al-Mulla: In-Between Land"

Sarah Al-Mulla is the enigmatic and charming lead singer and song writer for Halimede. The band will be performing at Viento y Agua on Saturday, November 10th at 9 PM. More on the band in a moment.

Al-Mulla grew up in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates.

"My father was a local and worked for Emirates Air. My mother was American, and was a homemaker. It was a very different time in Dubai. It was open, yet I was never Arab enough to be full Arab, but it also seemed that I wasn't mixed enough to be Western, so I felt that I was caught in this very strange in-between land, where I didn't really belong in either place.

"I was kind of a strange kid. I was very inquisitive. I tried to fix broken radios and decided that it wasn't that I didn't have the engineering skills, I just didn't have the right tools. That kind of a thing. I was very imaginative.

"I put a clear boundary between my school life and my personal life. Even at 6 years old, I cringed at the thought of seeing people from school in a social situation. I was there to study, in my mind, not to make friends. I was friends with my neighbor, and her sister, each was one year older than myself and my sister, and I actually have cassette tapes of myself when I was three speaking about them, so they were my friends. I guess my mom made those friends for me. [laughs] I've just always felt strange and awkward talking to people I don't know, as though I'm bothering them. So I just didn't do it.

"Of course my mom had a field day asking kids in the neighborhood if I could play with them. If it's never happened to you, I'm telling you, it's mortifying! But things like that usually happened at parks and stuff. I'm sure I was just driving her crazy with questions, so she tried to pawn me off! [laughs]"

Although her father liked to sing, Al-Mulla admits that neither of her parents were particularly musical.

"They did love music and always had it playing, but my mom would listen to Sade, Kenny G, Boys to Men and my dad listened to Arabic music, so what I knew of music I really just learned when we moved to the US in 1997, when I was 11. I wouldn't necessarily say that the music they listened to influenced me much, but I was always musical. When I was really young my mom bought me a ukulele and I sat with it for days until I could play the happy birthday song on one string.

"I have that same practice method now. It's somewhat of a compulsion. I play repetitively until I get it right and can do it flawlessly three times in a row. I've always just played what I liked hearing. I started playing piano when I was 6. I begged my dad to buy me a piano, sliently hoping and thinking that I was going to sit down at the keys and be some kind of child prodigy. Though that wasn't the case, I did pick it up pretty fast. My dad agreed to buy the piano if I agreed I would take lessons, which I did but, as a child, I didn't have the endurance to sit through having to learn sheet music and learn other people's songs. I wanted to compose, so I did.

"I've always played better by ear, and surprised my piano teacher with Für Elise, which I learned by ear. He was impressed, but was displeased that I neglected the song I was supposed to be studying and the sheet music I was supposed to be reading, and would constantly tell me that he knew I wasn't practicing, but would still encourage me to do my own thing."

Al-Mulla abandoned the piano at age eight, however.

"I just couldn't bring myself to sit and learn the music and play sheet music over and over again. I became disinterested and started to associate the piano with having to do something I didn't want to do. So I just quit. In hindsight, I believe that I would be a much better skilled pianist today had I stuck it out, and really wished that I did.

"It wasn't a question of putting in work and time, or a question of devotion. It was that the instrument, in my mind, was supposed to be there for me to express myself, not to express myself while playing another person's composition. I still have the same outlook today, and find it difficult to learn cover songs, though I do enjoy it and appreciate it a bit more now."

Al-Mulla moved to Long Beach, where her mother is from, in 1997. She was 11. The move became challenging once she entered school.

"The education system was more advanced in Dubai. I was eight years old when I was in the fifth grade. Here, it was in science class that the culture shock really set in. I was using a bunsen burner by myself by the time I was nine or 10. Then moving here, [they were having me] mix warm water with salt.

"Also, I couldn't wrap my mind around how mouthy the students were, the blatant disrespect for authority and the disregard for education. Furthermore, it seemed that schools just agreed.

"I was used to more order and control and that there were consequences, especially at school, if you stepped out of line, which didn't seem to be the case - LB Post


Still working on that hot first release.



Raw vocals, dark and personal lyrics, lounge pop undertones and a moody execution define the sound of, and concept behind, Halimede. With songwriting influences ranging from Amanda Palmer, Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, among others, Halimede's debut album, C/O A Conscience (Care of a Conscience), utilizes the skill set of the four key members (Sarah Al-Mulla, Mark Cox, Wade Wilkinson and David Chetkin), as well as welcomes a diverse group of contributing talents.

Initially the brainchild of primary singer/songwriter/pianist Sarah Al-Mulla and drummer/percussionist David Chetkin, who met on Craigslist, the band grew to include Wade Wilkinson (bass) and Mark Cox (guitar), as the recording process led to a mutual passion for the material and increased artistic synchronicity.

Over the past year, Halimede, based in Long Beach, CA, has focused on playing locally, as well as gaining exposure to new audiences. In addition, they have been featured on The Alanamana Radio Show, on Manao Radio KEAO-LP 91.5 fm, based in Maui, Hawaii, Swoop's World Late Night, Radio Crystal Blue Novus Ordo, and Pajama Party (radiotitans.com).

Halimede digitally released two singles, in December 2011, the full debut album on April 8, 2012, and a hard copy full album available for distribution in late 2012. In addition, the alternate version of "Let's Not and Say We Did" was digitally released, via iTunes, in December 2012.

Halimede is happy to announce Steve Becker (Guitar, Harmonica) has joined the fold, and is currently focusing on the long awaited completion of their upcoming 6 song EP. 

For more information and previews of new material, see the links below:

Full Album: www.halimede.bandcamp.com
LIVE PERFORMANCES (including live new releases): http://www.youtube.com/halimedevideo

Band Members