The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


Cairo 360 Presents: Neobyrd

Cairo 360 Presents: Neobyrd
written by
Heba El-Sherif

It’s always tricky to name one’s
favourite type of music. The kind of
songs that you listen to while driving are not the same ones that you listen to
during a workout, and both probably never make it onto your chillout

So what is it that hooks us to
certain artists over others?To Wael Alaa, the mastermind behind Neobyrd, it’s
all about the groove.

‘If there’s a striking groove,
the average music listener will like the song, even if it was death metal,’ he
told Cairo360. 

Alaa, whose debut album Transbyrd launched at Cairo Jazz Club on
June 27th, has been making and mixing music since he was
fourteen-years-old. His recipe? A tune
on the piano, synthesized and layered up with samples from older tracks, and
swayed with fresh, local vocals.

Neobyrd is most fittingly
catalogued as electronic music, but Alaa refers to his spins as a medley of
disco, opera and metal. When asked to classify his music, he names it PYT, a
nod to a song by the King of Pop, a staunch inspiration to him.

In Egypt, the electronic music
scene is slim and is made up of a rare crowd of electro-enthusiasts inclined to
huddle around a handful of DJs, often labelled quirky and eccentric by the

’Part of one’s inspiration is the
live scene,’ he said, ‘But since here in Egypt we are deprived of that, you
resort to online streams and music produced abroad.’

He added that Egypt was slow to
catch up on the electronic wave that swept the West around the 1960s.

‘For Egyptians to start
appreciating electronic music, we need to be exposed to it on a more frequent
and diverse basis’, he explained.

’What we are missing are
electronic enthusiasts eager to throw parties and invite DJs from abroad,
ensuring that it does not turn commercial, which is exactly what I like about 100Live,’ he said, lauding the electronic music festival’s
energy and its commitment to create an experimental space for both musicians
and listeners. 

Nonetheless, Wael sees a silver
lining in the future of Egypt’s electronic scene. ‘The lack of a scene sort of
forces you to carve your own path instead of being loyal to a certain style or
direction that already exists,’ he said.

Neobyrd is not officially signed to any label, Wael admits he’s currently in
talks with foreign labels, but that he is not in a rush either.

’Now what
you do online can sell the physical (product)… And if you have money, you can
put up an ad on 6 October bridge if you want,’ he said.

On stage
Wael is always obscured by a colourful chicken head, a source of bemusement and
bewilderment to some audience members.

’My face is
not important, especially in electronic music since what you present in essence
is digital,’ he explained. ‘And even when
I sing, I do it through a vocoder, so what you hear is not my real voice; so it
makes sense to cover my face.’

But why
the chicken?

’Because between a bird and a
chicken, the chicken is meaner, and that is more who I am.’

Look out for Cairo 360’s review
of Neobyrd’s debut album Transbyrd
coming soon.