Cairo Time – Spoon Visits Egypt
My first time there (and hopefully not the last) it was truly a great experience. I’m missing Cairo already and wanting to explore other parts of Egypt, Africa and the Middle East generally.
I visited Cairo with few expectations other than wanting, like a sponge, to soak up as much as I could in the short time I’d be there. I tried to balance my time between embarking on ‘touristy pursuits’, mingling with real everyday folks and straight up business.
The news we get often focuses on the protesting and instability so it was good to experience a few things for myself and make up my own mind.
On entering El Maadi (on the white knuckle taxi ride) from the airport we were greeted by a few stationary tanks. Wasn’t sure whether to feel safer or to be concerned about the need for tanks at all, but it was reassuring to learn that the curfew had ended. This also meant I could maybe feel out a little Cairo night life.
When ‘la Shukran’ (no thank you) wasn’t working as efficiently as I’d hoped, the London ‘road face’ had to be deployed and seemed to do the trick. Around the Giza Pyramids there’s a lot of hustle and this may be a little off putting but don’t let it taint your exploration.
A late float about on the Nile to an electro-shaabi sound track, or hitting cafe’s for late night banter became a welcomed fixture. I hit ‘Vent’, a trendy arts space for showcasing bands / Dj’s and a bit of networking. The sound system wasn’t the best and I’d gotten used to folks not smoking indoors in the States/UK, but glad I took a peek and had a boogie.
Next up was a metro ride to Falaki Theatre for the international women’s film festival where a flick called ‘Silent City’ directed by Threes Anna really caught my attention. Falaki also houses many live performances and is a must visit when in town.
A cinema trip ensued that lead us to Ahmad Abdalla’s ‘Rags and Tatters’ a film exploring the voice of the unheard during the time of the revolution. With little dialogue amazing how much is told with the Sufi singing a thread of soulful consistency through out the harsh depiction of that time.
Historical revolutionary moments were still evident through the downtown street art and the attitudes of the few young musicians I was able to meet. Bands like ‘Wet Robots’ and their KIK collective are carving out their own independent music ideas and hungriliy reaching out to their audience.
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh’s label Eka3 and projects like 100 copies popped up in conversation often with regards to pioneering support for the independent music sector. Was a pleasure to meet Nesma Herky (Eka3), music journalist Maha ElNabawi and Cathy Costain from the British Council. They really helped provide a strong insight into what was happening on a grass roots level. Among others, Heba Rifaat, artist (http://bit.ly/itunessph1) and front of house manager at Falaki Theatre was also important in making my visit extra special.
UKTI and the British Embassy were also great with info on the corporate side of things with BEBA (British Egyptian Business Association) and EBBC’s (Egyptian British Business Council) invitation to lunch in honour of the Prime Minister creating a very rounded introduction to the potential for working in Egypt.
Check out page 40 onwards of this issue of Egypt today. It’s a must read for Indie Muso’s! There is a wealth of diverse talent in Egypt but it seems a lack of copyright laws and a tough time for new artists wanting to perform live in popular venues. This makes it hard for many musicians to make a living from their craft.
Finding creative freedom and economic balance are universal issues that we are open to discuss and actively engage in creating simple solutions for.
DMS are open to hearing from and collaborating with Egyptian composers or companies so feel free to reach out.