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

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Cairo Guide to Music Studios in the City

Cairo Guide to Music Studios in the City
    written by
    Wesam Masoud

    Here’s an interesting bit of
    news: we do not have garages in Egypt. Anyone who drives around, and tries to park
    in Zamalek or Mohandiseen knows this to be true. As a corollary, we do not have
    garage bands in the strict sense of the word; but we do have an excellent
    alternative.

    In the spirit of Egyptian
    resourcefulness, jamming studios have been popping up all over Cairo. About ten
    or fifteen years ago, there were only two decent studio options; one was called
    Stage on Ramses Street, and the other was Double Vision in
    Manial. Since then, one of them has gone
    out of business, and the other has burnt to a crisp.

    However, those two
    nurtured the fledgling underground rock music scene back when listening to
    Metallica in Egypt was an offence punishable by law. In their stead, other more
    improved studios have appeared all over Cairo. Better equipment and the advent
    of digital recording have made it easier than ever to record sessions drenched
    in inspirado and worthy of disseminating via the internet or other digital
    media.

    This is the Way It Works: you
    call in advance and reserve your studio time. Some studios are more popular
    than others because of a combination of superior equipment, affable staff and
    location. As with all music-related activities, the sound is important, and
    each studio will subconsciously influence the music created. Good studio
    etiquette means cleaning up after yourself (i.e. don’t leave your broken
    drumsticks on the floor) and taking proper care of the equipment that you’re
    using– repeat offenders will not be welcomed back. A good idea is to contact
    each studio to get their most recent prices, since the laws of demand and
    supply can dictate an unannounced rise in the rental fees. Some studios also
    have guitars and bass guitars for rental; but they may not be in the best
    condition. Your drummer will also be happy to know that while drumsticks are
    not provided with the room, they are available in your favourite flavours: Vic
    Firth and Zildjian.

    Ganoub, Nasr City

    Ganoub is arguably the most
    popular of all the jamming studios. In early 2010, they added separate
    soundproofed rooms to record live drum tracks, guitars and vocals; so your
    music sounds professional. If you fancy a live open-jam session; the main room
    has been meticulously arranged and soundproofed to provide the best and warmest
    sounding instruments. The drum set in particular is kept in tip-top shape. A word
    to the wise: no smoking is permitted in any of the rooms; only in the small lounge
    area. Call for recording prices and reservations.

    Solo, Nasr City

    Launched by the
    guitarist from local band the Cartoon Killers, this studio is very spacious, and
    complete with refreshments and a pool table, which help if you want to pretend that
    you’re a rock star for a day. There is only one room for recording and jamming,
    and it is nicely soundproofed; but the sound can come out a bit brassy and
    trebly, while the bass sounds are muted. If your drummer is overly
    enthusiastic, he may not hear anyone other than himself– which won’t bother him
    as much as you think.

    Studio 32, Mohandiseen

    This nicely decorated studio is
    owned by Fathy Salama, and as such; you can expect a high-quality sound and
    professional staff. The space is very popular among bands from the west side of
    Cairo. The sound is often described as crisp and well-equalised– just be sure
    not to abuse the equipment; or else you will be booted out unceremoniously.

    Salvation, Almaza

    Situated near the Baron’s Palace
    and guarded by a temperamental German Shepherd, Salvation is appreciated for
    its warm sound. Sadly, the single jamming room is oddly configured and more like
    a long and wide hallway, which is not very conducive for seeing all the band
    members while playing. However, the drummer sits elevated above everybody else
    and gets the best seat in the house. There are Mesa
    Boogie cabinets sitting proudly in the studio, but they are more for show than
    for actual use. Another minor caveat is that only one guitar can be hooked up
    to an amp; a second guitar player must another amp to get
    in on the fun.

    Wave Music House,
    Dokki

    A favourite of some of Cairo’s
    more established and oldest bands like Wyvern, Wave has a healthy Facebook
    presence, and frequently helps bands record and master their CDs. Inside,
    you’ll find an interior decorated in beiges and browns. the recording room has
    wooden floors, which reduces the bass levels, leading to trebly sound more
    suited for Arabic pop music. This is no surprise; since top Arabic pop
    recording artists have been known to use the facilities on occasion. If your
    band is good enough;, you may be get signed to their own in-house music
    label, too.

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