Mai Abd El Aziz
A Singer with a Heart of Gold
With May’s latest album almost out on the shelves, we couldn’t help but ask for a little chit-chat about everything she had gone through for this highly anticipated solo-production. The humanitarian icon and brilliant musician sat down with us and talked cats, coffee and kindness; and how she’s incorporated all of these into being a sensational musician. Check out our exclusive interview with the star, May Abd El Aziz.
Tell us about yourself, what you do and how you got started?
I started singing around four years ago. I graduated from the American University in Cairo (AUC), where I studied Mass Communication. I then studied Child Psychology in UCLA in the USA; it was a graduate program. I love both teaching and singing. I believe singing, music and teaching are all educational tools which we can use to enlighten people on so many things. We can change so many perspectives! That was one of the reasons I started singing alongside teaching.
What was the hardest part of your journey so far? How have you overcome it?
I think the hardest part of it is trying to appeal to everyone and to impress
everyone in my audience, all by
employing my own lyrics and music that I write myself. It has been challenging, but I’m thankful to where I’ve become. When I’m at my concerts and I take a glance at my audience, I always notice there’s never a specific age range or group. I see married couples, students, mixed groups – everyone you can think of. So I think this really tells you when doing your best is paying off.
What Motivates and drives you?
My drive generally comes from within, followed by the support of family and friends. Also the feedback you get, and the change you witness making through your music is a main drive as well.
Would you consider yourself a risk taker?
Yes, yes, yes! I’m a big risk taker. I’m absolutely brave when it comes to this, I’ve never chickened out from a risky decision. But I’m definitely a cautious one at that. I’m not reckless, I always bear in mind potential consequences before taking such big decisions.
Were there any books that motivated you?
Yes, I love books by Mostafa Mahmoud. And I love Richard Templar’s The Rules of Life, it’s one of my favourite books. It gives you plenty of insights and rules on how to take on life.
Do you think your mindest has been a key to your success?
Definitely. My mindset, how my thoughts affect my productivity, how I grow throughout the years – all of this has made my journey worthwhile and one that I’m thankful for. It was all thanks to my family and what they instilled in me at a young age. They taught me to be independent and take on the world. Plus, they have always been open to my solo travelling, and have been accepting with everything I chose to do. Their efforts to change me to the better and try to change their surroundings in the same direction cannot be left out. They have fed my thoughts much about self-growth, and they’re the reason why I’m here now.
What would you say are the key elements to leading a suscceful career path?
The key elements to starting anything would be passion. Relentless passion! The kind where you do nothing but dream and think about what you want to do, and to want nothing else. You have to be willing to face an insufferable amount of hardships and challenges, and to never stop fighting these obstacles. Setting your foot back in the game hard and strong after taking breaks is also not
possible without motivation. So I definitely think motivation and passion are the key to any successful career or endeavor.
How do you deal with a bay day at work?
Food is how I deal with a bad day! [Laughs] When I come back, it’s just how I take a break from the world. I toss my phone, and only stay in touch with the people who keep my thinking and my motivation sharp. Those would be my parents, my brother and his wife and my cats. Then I just watch something light, maybe a standup comedy or something. Sometimes, I like to watch something motivational to spring me back up to my feet. So it’s food, chocolate, coffee, cats and that’s pretty much it.
What is your next big step?
My biggest step is my upcoming album. It’s going to be out in a month, and I’m taking crazy amounts of time, passion, tears…and sweat and blood to wrap it up [laughs]. I think it will be the
beginning of something big. This album is the epitome of my identity as an artist. Basically, it’s how I’m telling my
audience, “here you go, here are seven songs of who I am – written and composed by me.” So it’s taking a lot of time and a lot of energy. I’m so hopeful for an encouraging feedback from my audience.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s starting out in field, what would it be?
If you’re starting in the field of music, I totally recommend finding your passion and never giving up on it no matter how hard it gets. But I also suggest you find something else parallel to your music career. If you’re a doctor, an engineer or work at a marketing company or whatever, give your all to music but also make sure that you keep a job with a sustainable income that could fund this kind of career for independent artists. Social media is yet another very important aspect. Make sure you post a lot online. Keep your eye out on what people like more, and set your direction to that. It’s a matter of being both smart and passionate simultaneously.
What or who inspires you?
The number one inspirations in my life are my parents and my brothers.
What do you do when your are not working?
When I’m not working, I love travelling! I don’t mind solo travelling, and I love having my alone time. It really gives you the capacity to change perspective and grow. I also love hanging out with friends and family.
So far, what are you most proud of?
I recently started the initiative ‘You Are Kind.’ It’s a movement where I call for all my fans to support me by gathering up a team in Egypt, and setting out to give people a slice of kindness. We hand out notes that say “Good morning, have a nice day!” with some candy to make the days of passersby better. You know, people in the city are always walking with frowns on their faces, so the effect of making someone’s day slightly better has been an amazing experience. The team have also learned a great deal about approaching people who might be uptight, but once they take their note and candy, they smile and just look happier. ‘You Are Kind’ is one of the achievements I’m most proud of.
We Constantly see you promoting charity work and volunteering. What does that mean to you?
When it comes to charity, I always like to keep the human part of me aware at all times. It becomes awakened by charity and humanitarian acts. I always like to remind myself that I’m here for a purpose, and I’m not just here to survive. I love teaching as well as music; I’ve taught so many African countries around the world, and I’ve taught in Egypt. I’ve also given classes to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, so it’s been a great journey of understanding so much about myself and the children of the world in general. And of course, music has been the glue that kept all of this together. It has been my way to bridge the gap between diverse cultures and different mindsets. I love to teach, and I love the whole concept of being humanitarian at heart.