Underground Music in Egypt: Forming a Band is Not as Easy as it Seems

The underground music scene in Egypt has been flourishing in the past few years; they make it up for the mistakes done in the actual music scene. Those talented musicians have found a way to express their thoughts as well as ours, their songs go way deeper than a story of a couple in love or whatever cliché lyrics we’re used to.
It may look so simple to you, but building a band is not easy and those people spend days and nights working to bring one song to light. We’ve talked to 3 bands and asked them about their obstacles, heard their stories, and we believe they’re worth reading.

(The bands below are sorted alphabetically)

1. Code Masr

“Forming a band was never easy; people used to come and go all the time, the band wasn’t a priority to everyone” told us Ahmed Saif, founder of Code Masr. After they were finally settled, their next challenge was finding and growing a fanbase!
“The whole thing was based on social media and marketing and we never knew how to use these stuff.”
Code Masr really started from the bottom, they used to perform for free and even carry their own instruments all the time just to push people to listen; they believed that once the music get to the people and made them feel something, their message is delivered.
Winning Battle of the Bands and it was a turning point. “We were finally given the opportunity to play in different venues and locations.”
When asked if they’re looking for producers to grow bigger, the answer came shocking to us; “Producers control artists, they get to state what you say and how you say it. That’s why we’re looking for a sponsor instead.”

2. High Dam

This band is special! The Nubian band based in Alexandria plays Nubian, Reggae and African music. High Dam was formed back in 2012 by its percussionist Mohamed Gomaa. Their one message and main goal is to make the Nubian culture popular again as it’s the only ethnic Egyptian music we have right now.
We talked to Ahmed Reemo, bassist of High Dam, and asked him what makes them special and what obstacles they faced while forming the band,
“The Nubian heritage makes it special; we have our own style, dances and we create a totally different atmosphere” told us Reemo, “We faced lots of problems and troubles, but to be honest, it’s not like the bands who first started and formed the underground scene; Massare Egbari, Cairokee and Wust El Balad. 10 or 15 years ago it wasn’t that easy. Our major problem comes from centralization; everything happens in Cairo. If you want to build a solid fanbase, you have to perform there a lot. The Alexandrian audience is hard to please and too picky when it comes to music, but that’s not enough to build a strong and solid fanbase. Back when we started, we had a problem with venues that wouldn’t allow you to play more than once every couple of month. But you don’t face that a lot when you grow.

3. Khayal 

Brothers Ahmed And Ezz always loved music, they used to sing and play together and they were later joined by their friend Mohab. Ezz had the idea of forming an actual and professional band and that’s how Khayal started. “We used to perform after other band in concerts until we grew our own fanbase”. -Ezz, founder of Khayal.
Ezz believes that each member in Khayal has some kind of superpower;

Ahmed is a great composer, Mohab is the producer, I tend to think out of the box, Hanya is the fighter who knows how to motivate us to reach our goals, Zeyad is so passionate, and Ramy is the machine who never gets tired.

 Khayal used to perform for a while without drummer or a bassist which was a huge obstacle that hindered their growth for a while till they finally fixed that.
Their message is all about imagination; they will help you find a way to escape reality and find the khayal you always wanted to live in. Khayal aims to be known by everyone within 5 years and we know they will!

There are still good Egyptian musicians, you just need to know where to look for them.