December ‘15
Insight Interview

December ‘15
Maryam Salah
Maryam Salah


When did you decide to pursue your musical career?

Fifteen years ago, I started to participate in gigs with several bands randomly. Two years later, I created my first band Gawaz Safar (passport) with a number of singers including El Sheikh Imam. After that I joined Baraka Band and Warsha Band. For two years, I was a member in both bands. In Baraka (Grace), for the first time, we mixed oriental singing with western music. We used western instruments with my oriental vocals. This mix enabled us to reach fans of both music genres. With Baraka I also discovered my passion for composing with my first song Islahat (Fixes). After that I started composing most of my songs.

When did you decide to perform solo?

Five years ago I met Zeid Hamdan and Tamer Abu Ghazala. We discussed several projects and I became very eager to work with them. At the same time, I got the opportunity to sign my first album contract with a production company. I was terrified from the entire experience as I was never the centre of attention type of person!

We worked very hard and long on this album to decide the types of vocals needed for each song, the cover and even the live concerts. With Zeid, we recorded four songs while I was working on Mesh Baghany (Not Singing) and upon those songs we received many requests to perform in Europe. We were so keen to finish at least one song in each country and after four years we were able to finish the Hala Walla album. Mesh Baghany album was released before the live concerts but with Hala Walla it was the other way around.

What is next?

Theres an album Im working on with Tamer Abu Ghazala and Mouris Lokaa. Its an experimentation for Mahraganat Music. All songs are written by Mido Zohaire who wrote Islahat. Im very excited about this album. Regarding acting, theres a monodrama play that I was planning to do for so long but Im just waiting for the suitable time to do it.

How do you work to develop your music?

I work on developing myself not my music. I love discovering new gifts and potentials within me. I like playing different instruments and discovering different musical styles. So basically, I dont develop my music; I change it!

Why did you choose Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Foad Negm to re-perform their songs in particular?

Luckily Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Foad Negm were family friends, so during my childhood they inspired me in many ways. I used to sing their songs at school and my friends found me very weird for that, only I knew I was different. I like outstanding types of music with reflective effect. I find this type very unique and close to peoples hearts. Till this day, no one was able to beat Sheikh Emam and I wanted to revive his heritage with a modern touch.

What are the obstacles you faced that almost made you quit?

The first obstacle was in production. Creating a band, finding members, doing live concerts besides working extra hours to finance the band was a very hard job.

The second obstacle was being a female singer in a society like ours and having to face it every single minute. My voice was an obstacle too... not many people accept it and I received lots of harsh criticism about it!

When did you start to get positive feedback about your music?

Many underground bands rose after the revolution as people started to be more open to accepting different and new styles. Moreover when I travelled to preform abroad, I was surprised with the positive feedback I got from people there. This difference frustrated me at first but then I accepted the fact that some people may like my music and some may simply not.

Tell us about your acting experience?

Although I graduated from The Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts, acting in movies was not part of my plan. Until Ibrahim Batout, who is a good friend of mine, offered me a role in his movie Ain Shams. After that Osama Fawzy offered me another role in Bel Alwan Al Tabeya (In Natural Colours). Then I participated in Farah Leila (Leilas Wedding) with director Khaled El Haggar. I played a singer in this series and he suggested that I perform songs from my album Mesh Baghany to help with its publicity.

Which song is closest to your heart and why?

Wallaa Soda (Black Lighter) because the lyrics are very random, messy and dont make any sense together but the music itself is very serious; I love this contradiction. Also Wahdy (Alone) is a very close song to my heart. It makes you feel as if youre just chatting with your friend about yourself and I like this type of songs.

What did Zeid Hamdan add to you and your music?

Zeid added colours to my music! On a personal level hes very kind and helpful, he always helps new talents to get through their way. He helped me a lot in my career. I was already a fan of his music, the way he sings cheerfully... his very hard and serious written songs are just brilliant. He adds life to the songs, no matter how serious the lyrics are. The music playing can make you dance.