12 Local Bands & Musicians that Cairo Needs to Get to Know Better
From indie rock and heavy metal, to jazz and blues, to electronica, the underground music scene in Egypt is as diverse as it has ever been. With more and more artists finding and forming unique voices, music has flourished over the last five years, perhaps partly due to the increasing number of music venues available across Egypt's capital, as well as social media and other websites like SoundCloud, providing a space to get their names – and sounds – out there.
Here is a look over some of the best English-language bands, singers and musicians that you need to get to know better.
“[…] there’s a certain maturity to Awad’s coming of age contemplation, which mixes classic 1970s Cat Stevens/Paul Simon-esque songwriting with more modern indie quirks and soaring harmonies. […],” argued Time Out Dubai, about half Egyptian half English singer/songwriter, Adam Awad.
With a quirky folk style and unique voice, Awad’s music is deeply inspired by Jimi Hendricks and Bob Dylan, with several original songs in his repertoire, including This City is not my Home. Check out Adam Awad’s songs right here.
Drawing on a multitude of genres including rock, funk, jazz and neo-psychedelia, BLUFRANK , a music producer and composer, creates some of the most interesting electronic music you’ll ever listen to. His videos are just as experimental, but as an audiovisual experience, this is a one of a kind musician.Check out more from BLUFRANK right here.
Craft Integrated/Mostafa & Mostafa
Founded in 2012 by Mostafa Omar and Mostafa Mohamed, also known as Craft Integrated, is a duo specialising in uplifting, progressive and deep trance music. In spite of being relatively new to the music scene, the band received nods from Markus Schulz, M.I.K.E., Future Sound of Egypt (FSOE), Sean Tyas and many other artists. Check out Craft Integrated right here.
Front-man of renowned rock band, Egoz, as well as Beatles tribute band, Glass Onion, Hany Mustafa – or HanyMust as he has come to be known, with legend telling of some sort of play on honey-mustard – is one of the most popular artists within the independent music scene. A decade on the scene has proven Must to be an accomplished singer-songwriter whose interest lay in several genres and has one EP under his wing, as well as several singles, not to mention a forthcoming album. Check out more of HanyMust here.
A talented singer/songwriter, Hassan Ramzy could well be considered the Egyptian version of Boyce Avenue performing blues, rock, acoustic rock since 2004. While Ramzy is working on his own repertoire of originals, he also loves to cover songs for several artists including Florence and the Machine and Coldplay. Check out Hassan Ramzy right here.
Formed in 2005 in Alexandria, Massive Scar Era is another popular heavy metal and post hardcore band which rose through the ranks with an all-female line up until it later introduced male musicians. Now standing as one of the most accomplished Egyptian bands, Massive Scar Era have thus far produced three EPs and a single, Abaad Makan, which was featured in the movie Microphone, earning the band further popularity – plus they've opened Dream Theatre. Listen to their music right here.
An eccentric and unique musician who performs with a bird’s mask on his face, Wael Alaa—also known as NEOBYRD —is a popular electronic musician who earned massive mainstream success following the release of two songs With You Again and My Sweet Heartless. While some have dismissed his mask-based shenanigans as a gimmick, it certainly isn’t to the detriment of his music. Listen to more NEOBYRD here.
An Egyptian artist and composer with an ever-evolving musical style, Omar El Abd –aka Omrr— is an electronic musician and sound artist who likes to experiment with sound, combining micro sounds, noise, glitch and evolving textures. While this kind of approach to music is still relatively new in Egypt, Omrr produces interesting post-processing ambient experimental sounds that you’ll never get bored of. Check out his music right here.
Born in Alexandria, Portrait Avenue is a band that brings unique experimental music to the table. With eight band members—the eighth being their dog, Sparta—Portrait Avenue went from performing at a friend’s house in 2008, to winning Battle of the Bands, paving the way for more bands. Listen t them here music.
A unanimously popular artist that was once called a “Home Grown Phenomenon” RaSh Radio is a talented singer/songwriter with a large musical spectrum that includes pop-acoustic, reggae and rock. With several of his original tracks –Irish Coffee, Don’t Stop and Friendzoned—frequently played on Cairo’s Nile FM 104.2 – not to mention two of his tracks being played in Cannes Film Festival in 2011 – RaSh Radio’s music demands a listen.
An instrumental trio whose “music gets out of hand sometimes,” or so they say, The Chicken Came First is a group that creates alternative and post-rock instrumentals as well as ambient indie. The Chicken Came First were well recieved at a performance at Cloud 9 Music Festival and their latest track comes in the form of Context Castle. Listen to their music right here.
Fusing psychedelic, rock and folk, the Invisible Hands is a band created in 2011 with a debut LP released in 2012 – in both English and Arabic – earning rave reviews. Fronted by Alan Bishop of acclaimed underground American experimental rock band, Sun City Girls, the band's intriguing folk and indie arrangements have proven to be a great change of pace in Egypt’s independent music scene. Check out their music here.