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


Digla: A Band That Rocks

Digla: A Band That Rocks
    written by
    Haisam Abu-Samra

    Digla is quite a rarity in Cairo; a rock band that got it right. This outfit of four talented and dedicated musicians has an origin story that
    reads like most bands that come and go. What sets Digla apart from high-school
    cover bands is its members’ admirable persistence. Truth is, to make it as a band in
    the post-millennial world is a very difficult struggle, but for Digla music is
    both the path and the destination. There is a sense of ease about Digla’s sound
    that can come only from a band content enough to focus on the harmonies.

    Tarek El Borollossy, who goes by the nickname Boro, met Omar Raafat in
    school. The two bonded over their love of music and performing, and soon
    started playing cover songs together for the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Pearl
    Jam, and Ben Harper. After raising the roof at their school’s talent show, they
    decided to form a band, and they called it Digla as a nod to their Maadi suburb.

    With Boro taking the vocal and guitar duties and Raafat on the drum set,
    Digla began to outgrow their cover-band niche and they started writing songs of
    their own, all the while building this cult-like following in Cairo. By 2003, the band was playing to
    sold-out crowds on Sawy’s Cultural Centre stage.

    The band’s love for early 90s rock titans such as Pearl Jam, Live and
    Nirvana is channelled through their sound. Digla is not stuck on a nineties
    sound; they also derive influence from contemporaries such as Coldplay and The
    Kaiser Chiefs, to name a few. They also put their own twist on their contemporary
    sound; where it’s more than just about infusing the Egyptian tabla and sagaat into
    their songs for the sake of distinction. Beneath the instruments is music that
    emotes an Egyptian tale of coming of age amidst a perilous culture.

    Almost a decade since the band’s inception, while other bands may have
    called it a day and got lost in the abyss of 9 to 5; Digla has kept a steady
    momentum, despite the pressures of securing a future in a city like Cairo. Boro
    went on to study business in Montreal, and Raafat
    studied business in Boston;
    so the band members only had the summer to keep the band alive.

    After shuffling through some members, the band met seasoned bassist
    Mohammed El Hakim in 2006. Hakim has previously performed with bands such as
    Forgotten Notes, the Tamariam Experience and Cairokee. A child of Maadi
    himself, Hakim felt right at home at Digla and is the third official member.

    The last member to join the lines of Digla is guitarist Sary. Thus in
    the classic rock tradition of a four-piece outfit, Digla has grown to become
    the rock group it always aspired to be.

    It’s hard for new artists to survive in an MP3 world. Rock bands are
    becoming the new starving artists, and that goes double for bands that exist
    far from the resources and audiences of North America and Europe. Digla is
    unfazed by this harsh reality. ‘We just love playing music,’ says Raafat, ‘And
    no matter what; we’re going to keep doing it.’

    The band’s commitment has paid off by accumulating a sizable following
    that fills all of their shows; and the MP3 world has worked to their advantage:
    their MySpace page has over twenty thousand followers from across the globe.

    Now that school is over, all members are gearing up to fulfil Digla’s
    potential. Omar, Hakim and Sary are dividing their time equally between their
    work and the band, while Boro has dedicated his time to Digla and building his
    own music studio, which will help him cut down the costs of recording and
    jamming for the band’s future albums.

    A few years ago, the band honed the best of their original material and
    recorded it for a small fortune at a studio. The idea was to record a demo that
    could speak for itself and not just promise potential. The outcome was far more
    impressive to be just a demo, so Digla went the extra mile and polished the
    songs to perfection. The album is now titled Free Your Mind.

    2010 is going to be a busy year for Digla. Free Your Mind will be released in Egypt on May 28 and the band will
    perform at El Sawy to celebrate the album’s launch. They are writing more songs
    for the follow-up album, which will hopefully be recorded by the end of this
    year for an early 2011 release.

    Digla is one of the few bands that give us the rock experience missing
    in oriental Cairo. Their tunes are earnest and clear, and attending one of
    their shows is always a memorable experience. Simply put; this is a band that rocks.