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Interview: Ahmed Tarek Ola-abaza



Thanks to the very fortunate events (and to the mighty internet), we came across a very special musician a while back and we knew we had to do this. We’ve been eagerly waiting to introduce him on Mashareeb, it took us a while, but it’s finally happening!

Ahmed Tarek Ola-Abaza is an Egyptian who lives in New Zealand. He makes experimental electronic music that we found very special , very distinctive, very daring and very unusual. We thought there would be nothing better to tell us more about him and his music than to directly ask him questions.



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ahmed: My four-part name is Ahmed Tarek Bahgat Abaza but for music I omit ‘Bahgat‘ and insert ‘Ola-abaza‘ because ‘Ola‘ is my mother’s first name. I was born in Cairo, Egypt but I now (2011) live in Christchurch, New Zealand. My childhood education was in Cairo and from New Zealand I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology and my postgraduate work is ongoing in Philosophy. My main interests in life are reading, writing, music and, of course, Egypt.

How would you describe your music?

Ahmed: I would rather play it to you. But I will try to describe something. There are pieces which are quite different from each other. I just call it electronic music or experimental music. I treat the sounds you create with synthesizers and use as a basic part of the composition process along with notes. I can say my music is mostly instrumental and with rich textures, playing around with some of the many ‘styles’ that I have been exposed to. I study philosophy but not much philosophy of music. I treat it as just another social practice.

How did it start and what made you get into electronic music?

Ahmed: Egypt is my everlasting love and when I was 14 in 1999 Christchurch I was especially homesick and a bit of an Egyptomaniac. The millennium celebrations in Egypt were to be marked by a concert called ‘The Twelve Dreams of the Sun‘ by Jean Michel Jarre. I followed the news about this obsessively, not because of the music but because it was the Egyptian celebration. Eventually I heard Oxygene 9 and the synthesizer textures and sound design on this piece impressed me. I had only heard standard pop music so far and some classical and Arabic music. This ignited my love for music in general not just electronic music. I later heard pieces of Jarre’s which evoked memories of my Egyptian childhood as his music was used on some TV and radio. Then I began to compose when I was 15 as this interest developed more strongly and I discovered many other artists.

Who are your main influences?

Ahmed: Autechre, Laurie Anderson, Jean Michel Jarre, Boards of Canada, Philip Glass and Vangelis are my main musical inspirations. If we keep the list very short.

What kind of instruments and equipment do you use?

Ahmed: It is a very limited set-up with a MIDI keyboard and controller an Audio-MIDI interface, studio monitors and a computer with much software. All the instruments so far are software synthesizers and samplers along with sequencers and other types of applications such as notation software.

What do you think about the electronic music scene in Egypt? And what do you think about the genre’s future in Egypt and how can it be improved?

Ahmed: It is still somewhat in the underground. I hope that for many fields of art and non-art in Egypt there would be a renaissance following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is a diverse country of many tens of millions who have much to offer. The last time I visited Egypt though the kind of highly experimental electronic music artists such as Autechre make definitely was not in vogue. But they are not well-known in New Zealand either! At least I know there is interest and people working in the field.

You have performed live and made other appearances, what is that like and how exactly does your performance go?

Ahmed: I did things related to my music and others to my academic interests like radio interviews and once as an analyst on TV as Mubarak gave his last speech. It is not usual for me to be in public or the point of attention – I dislike it.

At an audio-visual performance I was invited to hold at the Auckland Museum in April 2011 I had big technical problems in the preparation stage (my sound card was broken). I only got a working audio interface days before the show. So any hope of playing directly on my virtual instruments was gone – I simply DJ’d the music to the visuals and controlled the mixer. Some of my music is not playable easily on keyboards anyway! I enjoy this but it is also stressful and challenging.


Ahmed’s performance at the Auckland Museum:

An excerpt from the Aukcland Museum’s panel discussion that featured Ahmed:

What are your dreams and goals in terms of music?

Ahmed: I have an old three-part project and I dream of finishing it! The project goes back to the age of 15 when I began composing because I am using my old tunes that I had not taken seriously when I first wrote them to make new material as one part of the project. Other parts involve entirely new material.

I also hope to get more opportunities to join music with visuals for live audiences following the rough and hastily created experiment at the Auckland Museum. I am playing another concert soon (in Christchurch) but I have not created a visual component this time.


You can get to know more about Ahmed‘s music through:

His Facebook page: Ahmed Tarek Ola-abaza

Twitter account: @OlaAbaza

Youtube Channel: Olaabazafantube

and his Souncloud page: Ola-abaza

We would like to thank Ahmed for this insightful interview and for giving us the opportunity to talk with him. We’ll leave you now with a selection (made by him and us) of some of Ahmed‘s music, enjoy!


Cigar Power:

Grounded (for Egypt) – مصر مستقرة :

Kiwi Kids:

Practic Fast 3:




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Ramy Essam: Bread, Freedom and First Single

The long awaited song from Ramy Essam (also known as the singer or the voice of the Egyptian revolution) is here! We’ve been very eager since he announced the name of the song, which was “Bread, Freedom” (Eish, Horeya) and if we were him, we’d be very anxious about what people might think about it! The title of the song is already a big responsibility, since it’s the official chant of the Egyptian revolution.

Overall, we think it’s pretty good, the lyrics are powerful and uplifting, the chorus is very catchy and you will find it hard to not pump your fist while listening to it. As for the video, we honestly think it could have been made better, it might have been rushed a little. But most importantly, we are very glad the song turned out to be a rock song, it gave the chant the edge it needed, it’s definitely not a commercial song and we hope Ramy sticks to that (not the genre, but the direction he’s taking) in future work.


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Nagham Masry: First ever music video and “it’s a big deal”

Finally, Nagham Masry have released their first ever music video for the song “Mesh Mohem” (Not a Big Deal or It Doesn’t Matter) from their long awaited upcoming album. We already love their live performances and recordings but we can’t wait to hear all their songs properly recorded in a studio.

lyrics (written by Mohammed Kheir):

حتى لو أخرتى تانى يا ليالى فى الأمانى عمرى ما هابطل جنانى
و مش مهم … مش مهم
حتى لو مطرتى هالعب فى المطر و لحد ما أغلب و اما اقع و اتهد و اتعب
مش مهم … مش مهم
يعنى لو حط الحمام هافتح الشباك و انام و ان عييت مليون زكام
مش مهم … مش مهم
حتى لو أخرتى تانى يا ليالى فى الأمانى عمرى ما هابطل جنانى
و مش مهم … مش مهم
اعلى ما فى خيلى غنايا و لا رأيك مش معايا و ان ما كانش فرأيك انت
مش مهم … مش مهم
حتى لو أخرتى تانى يا ليالى فى الأمانى عمرى ما هابطل جنانى
و مش مهم … مش مهم



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Cairokee: The Sound of “Rock meets Arabic”

This might not be a new and orginal idea right now, but it was definitely new a couple of years ago. While many bands in Egypt were trying to play rock music and sing in arabic, not everybody really managed to pull it off. Cairokee was one of the bands who did pull it off pretty well and gained a good amount of supporters and a fan base. They have recently gained a lot of attention and success due to their famous revolution song “Sot El Horeya” or “The Sound of Freedom” and their song featured in the new Pepsi ad. They have also recently collaborated with Zap Tharwat and Hany Adel (West El Balad) on a track by the name “Ba7lam” or “I Dream”, you can check it out here.

The band consists of Amir Eid on vocals and guitar, Sherif Hawary on lead guitar and back vocals, Tamer Hashem on drums, Ahmed Bahaa on percussios, Sherif Mostafa on keyboard and Adam El Alfy on bass guitar. Their musical style can mainly be described as soft or classic rock, with some Egyptian and arabic inlfuence every now and then. The highlight of the band would be the spoken arabic (3ammeya or slang) vocals, that do work well with their western musical style. They sing about social and political issues in the Egyptian society, from love to hate and from depression to dreams.

They have released 2 albums so far, the first one was released in 2009, the album didn’t really have a title name and was distributed as part of a Coca-Cola campaign (it also had their own cover of the famous Coca-Cola song).

If you want to check it out, the album can be downloaded from here. (link provided by Egyptian Bands Blog)

The second album, titled “Matloub Za3eem” or “A Leader Is Wanted” was released on the 30th of June by a concert at The Sawy Culture Wheel. You can watch the album teaser here.

Their new video for the song “Matloob Za3eem” can be seen here on El Gomhoreya TV (you must register to watch the video).

Here’s their first ever music video for the song “Kol El Nas“:

This is an amazing rock cover they’ve made with Ousso (Eftekasat & Nagham masry) for Sheikh Imam‘s classic “La7ma“:

This also another interesting song they’ve made that did not make it in any of their albums by the name of  “Salam Ya Man“:

And lastly, an excerpt from their first album “Habibi Ya Metala3 3einy“:

Their website is currently down (it was really cool website! We hope they bring it back to life soon!), but you can get updates about their shows from their facebook page.


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Revolution Art: Music

“Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions.” We used this definition to describe art in Mashareeb’s agenda (and we swear that our agenda is not a foreign one!). In moments like the ones we are witnessing right now in Egypt, people are experiencing a mixture of emotions and most of them are eager to express themselves in way or another. We have seen people taking pictures, shooting videos, making songs, writing poems, creating signs and they are most definitely putting a flavor to this revolution. Times like these witness the best work of creativity from people because it’s all about self expression, dreams, hopes and emotions. As Mashareeb supports Egyptian creativity, we wanted to gather as much as we can from the creative results of the 25th of January’s revolution (made by Egyptians and non-Egyptians) and present them to you.

These posts are all dedicated to the lives of the protests’ martyrs.

We will never forget you.

May your souls rest in peace.

Revolution Music

Our first post from the revolution art posts will be dedicated to the music inspired by the revolution. Egyptian musicians have all been inspired by the current events and some of them have actually been an inspiration for the revolution. The inspiration did not stop here in Egypt, people from all over the world contributed and dedicated songs to the revolution and the Egyptian people. We tried to gather as much as we can all the songs that has been surfacing the internet talking about the revolution. If you think we missed some, please don’t hesitate to send us whatever you have.

(songs are posted in no specific order)


إحلم معايا (Dream With Me) – Hamza Namira

Sout Al Horeya صوت الحريه – Amir Eid, Hany Adel, Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards

Translation available if you click on “cc”

the track’s final mix is available for download here:

Long live Egypt / تحيا مصر – Scarabeuz & Omima

إزاي !؟  ‎- محمد منير

25th January – Ahmed Mekki (Ft. Mohamed Mohsen)


وقت الثورجية – الثورجية

One Day the Sun Will Explode – Highly Suspect

#Jan25 – Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaiman (Prod. by Sami Matar)

بحبك يا بلادي – Aziz Elshafhi & Ramy Gamal

Rise to Freedom – Natacha Atlas and Basha Beats

My Peeps (Home Version) – Hany Mustafa

قالوا مجنون اللي يفكر – Taxi Band

سواق تاكسي (censored) – Eyad

El Eyoun El Samra – Property of Nadia Shanab

تاكى و بوجى – ثورة بدون زعيم


سيتى باند – سامعين غُنانا

The Price of Freedom – Shady Ahmed

Tahrir Revolution – Jay Samel

رامي عصام – الثورة

See you tomorrow – Tahrir Square Protestors

إرحل – Tahrir Square Protestors

اضحكوا يا ثوره – Tahrir Square Protestors


Freedom (Song For Egypt) – Wyclef Jean


Hey There Mubarak (Hey There Delilah parody)

Bon Jovi – No Apologies (dedicated to the facebook rebellion that began in Egypt)

Al Thawra – Micolagist

Er7al (English Version) – The Past 10s

Immortal Egypt / Revolution Dub – Dj Zhao

Yalla Masr Dub – Dubzonic

The Bleeding Egyptian (DEMO) – Fady D (Mashareeb Artist)

HIGHER (Tribute To Egypt) – Patriarch, Ghazi, Kaotiq and Anna

Egyptian Revolution – Bongo Christ

Egyptian Revolution – DJ EBBO – ORIGINAL MIX 11-2-11

Jan25 ( Egypt Revolution ) – MADMOODSELECTOR

2om Ya Msri – Alaa Azzam

Egyptian Revolution Blues – Sandy Cash

The Uprising – Wrench.se

Egyptian Revolution Song – Shivasongetr

50-brave-women-n-a-dream-2-save-us – Silent Tristero


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Project Yourself: One Year Of Talented Egyptians Performing

We’ve talked before about Project Yourself here on Mashareeb (check it out here in case you’ve missed it) and we were glad to make it to their one year celebration. The event was sponsored by the Cairo Jazz Club Agency and was held in a very interesting location, a cultural center located in Old Cairo by the name of Darb 1718.

The stage was also unusual, a high gap inside Darb‘s building, almost like a low rooftop (the scene of people performing from up there was very reminiscing to The Beatles‘ famous rooftop concert). The crowd had beans bags to relax on, hot and cold drinks and thankfully no rain to ruin the night. The show had a lot of various performances like rock bands, acoustic bands, stand-up comedians and even people talking and reading poems, so it was far from boring.

Since Project Yourself open mics are usually a good event to discover new Egyptian talents, we decided to give you a brief summary and review on the performers who were there (these performers were voted by the Project Yourself fans to perform at the celebration night).

Shady Ahmed (music):

Shady performs with an acoustic guitar and sings, he also sometimes plays with a full band. At the event, he performed with Ahmed Bahaa (from The Percussion Show) on the percussions and offered a variety of up-tempo and down-tempo originals.

Mohamed Fahmy (stand-up comedy):

Mohamed Fahmy is an arabic stand-up comedian who’s humor is mostly about him telling you stories of hard times he has been through. Mohamed started his performance by singing a funny arabic version of Jingle Bells that he wrote with his cousin (bent khalto if you were curious) and proceeded with telling us his funny story about breaking his neck.

High On Body Fat (music):

This band is like an Egyptian combination of Flights of The Conchords and Weird-Al YankovicHigh On Body Fat is an acoustic band composed by Marwan Imam on bass and Ahmed Safi El Din on guitar and both of them on vocals. They simply play parodies of famous songs with pure sarcastic Egyptian humor; like turning Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance” into a story about eating “Bad Betengan” and Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in The Wall” into a song about video game geeks singing about playing “beles-station”.

Rami Boraie (stand-up comedy):

Rami is an Egyptian who moved from Canada to Egypt a couple of years ago, he’s a stand-up comedian who performs in English. Rami complains and rants about things he sees around him in the Egyptian society like Tamer Hosny‘s Pepsi commercial and the bbm messages he receives.

Farida El-Gueretly (music):

Farida is another solo acoustic act with an angelic voice, her performance consisted of covers, most notably Melanie Safka‘s “Look What’ve Done to My Song” and Regina Spektor‘s “Samson”

Ramez Youssef (stand-up comedy):

Ramez started up his stand up comedy performance by thanking Mariam El Quessny and everybody responsible for Project Yourself existing. He kept making jokes about some of the past open mic night acts and then proceeded by telling jokes and funny stories about recent events following the Alexandria dramatic new year’s eve bombing and people’s reactions and behaviors towards it.

Hany Mustafa (music):

Hany plays the guitar, the keyboard and sings. He usually performs with a live band but at the event he performed with Mustafa Kerdany on the percussions. He performed original songs, some where mellow love songs and some where angry revolting songs (on Caffeine! he apparently hates caffeine so much). Another good acoustic performance from the many that the night had.

Khalid Mansour (stand-up comedy):

You might’ve seen him on Moga Comedy‘s Moga Stand-up shows or heard his voice on one of the FOX Series commercials or even on a Vodafone commercial. Khalid is a stand-up comedian who performs in arabic and have the talent of changing up his voice and sounding like TV commercial and movie trailer announcers (and obviously that’s why he does voice overs!). So, yes, he’s the Egyptian Pablo Fransico! He threw out a lot of naughty jokes, made fun of Egyptians speaking in English and even re-did Pablo‘s famous “Maria” joke (he did not steal it, he mentioned Pablo before telling the joke) and perfomed it in the spanish series arabic “fos7a” voice over sound.

Mounir Makar (music):

One of the most interesting acts of the night, Mr Makar usually performs with his daughters (making El-Makars) but they couldn’t make it to the event, so he did it all with his guitar and voice. He played some covers for famous 60’s songs (and improvised some lyrics to go along with the night and the event) and performed original songs too. Mr Makar was an interesting act because it’s very rare to see grown ups with families, kids and jobs in Egypt keeping up with their hobbies. Mr Makar plays well the guitar, sings beautifully and has a strong charisma and a good sense of humor, we think he delivered a good message to those fresh young talents to consider in the futur.

Zeina Mourad (self expression):

Another interesting act from the event, Zeina came on stage with a poem she wrote to read for people then she started talking about things she wanted to say and tell everybody, then ended the performance by showing people a relaxation exercise. Zeina simply represented what Project Yourself stands for “people expressing their self through poetry, song, performance, silence… IN ANYWAY. Just show us who you are

Like Jelly (music):

The band’s name is just perfect, their performance is fun and it feels like…Jelly! A very entertaining band composed by Youssef AtwanOmar El NayalMuhammad El QuessnyNadah El Shazly and Mostafa Talaat. Their performance will put a smile on your face and their backing vocals put a very chaotic Egyptian ambience to their songs. They are an acoustic band with a tabla and they sing mostly in arabic about issues in the Egyptian society.

Rash Radio (music):

The last acoustic act of the night, Rashad is another solo acoustic act with a very distinctive voice (close to Jason Mraz’s). He performed some original down tempo songs, that he himself has called “depressing”, and helped putting a mellow ambience to the crowd.

Mo’ love (stand-up comedy):

From the south of the United States, Mo moved to Egypt after growing up in Dallas. His stand up comedy performance was mostly about him talking about what he’s going through living in Cairo and the awkward situations he encountered because of his bad arabic.

Mohammed Shaheen (stand-up comedy):

We’ve been comparing some of these talents with western ones, not to give you the impression that they’re not original but to only try to make you grasp the feel of their performance and with Mohammed Shaheen we will say, the Egyptian Demetri Martin. His English stand up comedy performance is done with an acoustic guitar (like Demetri Martin!) but the subjects are mostly Egyptian. The jokes were very smart and funny (just like Demetri Martin’s!) and he nailed it every time he paused his guitar playing and dropped a word that would make people crack up.

Neobyrd (music):

The only electronic act of the night, Neobyrd is not the Egyptian Daft Punk because it’s only Wael Alaa and not a duo (but he does perform in a mask, a leather jacket and a pair of gloves!). Neobyrd performs his songs live by playing them on the keyboard. His music varies from songs with a pumping bass and a heavy kick to mellow and chill ones and their production is very neat and well done. The thing that Wael does that makes Neobyrd special is the cyborg vocals he produces using the vocoder on some of his songs.

Ze Khodz (music):

A rock band composed by  Shehab El NouryNoor AymanMajid HassanSeif El Sobky and Box (yes, Mr Box). The band’s subjects are mostly social issues in the Egyptian society like being different and sexual harassment. The highlight of Ze Khodz‘s performance is the small details they put together to make their performance memorable and funny. Mr Box plays the guitar while wearing a box on his head, they were all dressed in ridiculous outfits and they would surprise people multiple times by playing death metal riffs and growls accompanied with double bass for like 4 seconds during one of their songs. And finally, they left people screaming “Enta 2ely kalt el batates!” because that was their drummer’s backing vocal line for one of the songs.

It was wonderful night full of young (and old!) Egyptian talents, people we can like or dislike but never ignore. It was also a good chance for us to cover and review some of the talents Egypt has to offer and let you know about it here.

Mashareeb would like to wish Project Yourself a very happy first anniversary and would like to re-state its support to their open mic nights that shed light on a lot of talents and gave a chance to people to show what they’ve got. They support Egyptian creativity, we also do, we are one and we are all together on the same mission.

Support Egyptian Creativity.


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Nagham Masry: The Ethnic Sound of Egypt

If you’re trying to think about a band that is genuinely Egyptian, from topics to music to mood to melodies to lyrics, Nagham Masry should be the first band that comes on your mind.

This is probably the perfect name for them, it explains all what this band is about. Nagham Masry, formed by some members of Eftekasat, is a band that plays original songs with famous poems as lyrics. Their music is a mixture between East and West; the band contains middle eastern instruments like the kanoun, the oud, The doff and the tabla while having western instruments  like the electric guitar, the bass, the violin and the drums. The result of all of these instruments playing together is quite fascinating, since the Egyptian mood and feel is overwhelming the songs and the western instruments are actually used to enhance this Egyptian groove. Even though Nagham Masry has a lot of common musicians with Eftekasat, and both bands almost mix East and West, they play completely different styles of music.

The band’s topics are 100% Egyptian since they are mostly poems written by Egyptian poets like Salah Jaheen, Amal Donkol, Emad Abdel-Mohsen and Ahmed Fouad Negm and usually they are about social or political matters. Their singer, known as Sherbini, has a really distinctive “Egyptian” voice; it’s warm, sounds familiar and the guy preforms in a very natural manner.

The band received wide success and popularity by playing in the S.O.S Festival and El Sawy Cultural Wheel several times. Their live shows are very energetic, lively and entertaining and Sherbini makes the crowd participate with him in the singing which results in some cool interaction between the band and the crowd.

Unfortunately the band never released a studio recorded album, but there has been some rumors going on for quite some time that the band is working on an album, we really hope they are true because a band like Nagham Masry deserves to have their songs jammed in people’s cars in Egypt.

The concept of the band is great and the result is absolutely amazing and it’s all because this band contains great Egyptian musicians from top notch quality, skills and creativity. We hope they release an album at some point, but for now we can enjoy their videos on youtube, the quality is not that great but it’s not that bad either.

We picked 2 songs to let you know more about Nagham Masry:

– The first song is the famous “الساعة اتنين صباحاً” written by the renowned Salah Jahin, a song that perfectly describes the Egyptian “hang out” nightlife and could be a good example to prove that Cairo is the “real” city that never sleeps (and not New York).

– The second one is actually one of their most famous songs by the name of “غريبة البلد ديه“, with the lyrics written by Emad Abd El Mohsen. This song is more like an anthem and it talks about Egypt‘s contradictory characteristics.

Here’s a link to their official facebook page to get updates for concerts schedule.

And this is a link to one of their member’s youtube channel that contains some videos of their performances.


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Aly & Fila: Putting Egypt on The World’s Dance Map

On the night of 27th of October, the Egyptian DJ duo Aly and Fila has been ranked 20th on the DJ Mag “Top 100 Djs” poll. Competing with the likes of Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Paul Van Dyk, Daft Punk, ATB and many other big names in the dance music scene.

So far, this year has been going really great for the Egyptian duo, they have also secured the 11th spot on the Trance Addict‘s “Top 250 Djs” poll and made Egypt win the “Dance Nation of the Year” award at the Ibiza Music Awards 2010.

Aly Amr Fathalah and Fadi Wassef Naguib have been making Trance music and Djing for years, they started going international when they signed for German record label Euphoric Records. With their first release with the label, “Eye of Horus”, they received huge airplay from the likes of Paul Van Dyk, Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, and many others.

This wasn’t their first time being featured in the “Top 100 Djs” poll. They have been on the list since 2007 with the 111th spot, the 31st in 2008, and 22nd in 2009.

After their contract with Euphoric records expired, the duo started their own record label with the name of Future Sound of Egypt, which became a sub-label to Armada Music, the label co-founded by Armin Van Buuren himself (voted Number 1 Dj in the past 4 years). They have also played alongside him in A State of Trance episode 300 and episode 350.

Last summer (May 2010) they released their debut album “Rising Sun” and threw a launch party at Pacha Sharm El Sheikh (which is ranked 25th in the DJ Mag “Top 100 Clubs” 2010 poll).

If you’re interested to listen to them doing their own thing, they do host several national and international radio shows, you can find the list here. You can also have a quick listen on their MySpace page, Youtube channel or check out their releases on Beatport.

You can also follow them on their facebook page or twitter account for updates.

We know that some people might not be into this kind of music and the point is, you don’t have to be. When somebody represents your country, manages to break out of the so called “bubble we live in” and make people around the world wave the your country’s flag; they deserve support, recognition and respect.


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Hybrid Records: The Rebirth of Egyptian Music

A year ago, a very interesting song called “Yama Dagit” was aired on Egyptian music channels and the artist behind the song was called Azzam. The song had a groovy bass line and beat, very funky guitar riffs and keyboard chords and surprisingly…a rababa, a nay and upper Egyptian (se3eedy) vocals!

We were very curious about the song and the artist, so we decided to do some research and what we have discovered might be a BIG turning point in the history of Egyptian music.

This song is part of a project called Zenouba; an album that features talented, authentic and folkloric musicians from all over Egypt. This musical project, led by Ahmed Azzam, aims to reproduce and innovate these Egyptian roots into a modern sound with electronic music. And the main goal behind this project was to

…show people the truth, that it has in fact, not been lost, and though we might live in a ‘globalized’ world today, we can forever maintain and understand our roots and identity – through music. Furthermore, we can export our culture to the world with a new refined image that would help bridge the gap between the Middle Eastern and Western cultures.

And the secret behind Zenouba and Azzam, the great discovery we came across, was Hybrid Records.

Hybrid Records is an Egyptian record label based in Cairo and San Fransisco dedicated to take Egyptian music to the next level. And according to their website, they sum up the idea of the label by defining their goal as the following:

“To overcome cultural barriers through a marriage of eastern and western art, music, and film, giving back a sense of pride to the Egyptian people and excavating Egypt’s ancient treasures that have been buried for far too long”

The label also has set some objectives they would like to achieve and has put them clearly on their website:

  • Renovating and innovating Egyptian musical heritage
  • Promoting intercultural exchange
  • Educating Egyptian society about their own culture
  • Promoting Egypt’s true national image abroad
  • Developing local talents that have no chance of commercial exposure
  • Promoting the Middle Eastern culture and roots to the western audience
  • Bridging the gap between Middle Eastern and Western Cultures

The label was founded by Ahmed Azzam and Mohamed Ghorab. Two people with a great experience in music and media production and a history that speaks for itself. The label has a lot of  various musicians like Naseer Shamma, Digla and Hisham Kharma and have already released 14 albums (that you can check out and buy from here).

A label like this marks a huge step in the Egyptian music industry and can not be denied what so ever. It will definitely help export Egyptian local talents, retrieve our lost wonderful folklore and save the Egyptian music and its identity.

Hybrid Records is the rebirth of Egyptian music.

We suggest you become a member of their mailing list, follow them on Facebook and check out their Youtube Channel.

We will be covering a lot things about the label, its founders, artists and albums in upcoming posts. We will also have an interview with the man behind the Hybrid Records sound and the Zenouba project, Ahmed Azzam.

So stay tuned, this is only the beginning.


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Eftekasat: A Great Musical “Eftekasa”

Pretty much the most famous band in Egypt (after West El Balad) but probably the most talented one.

I can’t imagine someone living in Egypt not knowing about Eftekasat, this band can not be missed.

Eftekasat is an Oriental Jazz Fusion band from Cairo. They started up around 2002 and released their first album Mouled Sidi El Latini (The Latin Dervish) around 2006 and their second one Dandasha was out early 2010.

What makes Eftekasat very special is the different musical influences the band members bring in. Their music blends oriental instruments and scales with some jazz and funk beats and keyboard chords accompanied by, what would be their “cherry on the cake”, electric guitar riffs and solos. Their sound is very original and unique, you can easily tell it’s them by listening to just 5 seconds of a song. It has a warm familiar Egyptian feel (the nay, the violin and the accordion) and a funky and groovy kick to it.

Recently, the band had some changes in their line-up, which can be a little tiny bit noticeable on their second album, but the Eftekasat spirit can still be felt and their distinct sound can still be heard.

They are mainly an instrumental band, which is why some people find it hard to listen to them, and that’s an issue with our beloved people that we need to work on. The concept of instrumental music really needs to be more introduced, appreciated and understood in our society (even though a lot of people do listen to Omar Khayrat!).

This is probably Egypt’s finest musical product in years, and the band most definitely deserves a listen.

This won’t be the last time you hear about them on Mashareeb, we will talking more about them in the future posts and we will soon be posting reviews for both of their albums.

Until then, you can go check their albums out at Virgin Megastore (City Stars) or you can find your way to get their stuff online.

or you can go take a listen at their MySpace Page right here

and follow them on their Facebook Page right here

(note: Mouled Sidi El Latini can be heard on their Facebook page)

and if you get the chance to see them play live, do not miss it!

Also, if you need to know more about the band you can go read about them on Wikipedia (yes, they are that famous)

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