Egypt’s electronic dance music scene is emerging from behind a shadow cast by political turmoil and social unrest. While small, it does exist and Egyptian DJ trance music duo Aly & Fila are showing the world that it hasn’t been all hardships in their country this year by offering a rare glimpse into its club scene. The duo play tomorrow night alongside Ferry Corsten at the sixth annual 2F White Party presented by theLOOP.
Saturday’s line up is, as usual, stacked with DJs that dominate DJ Mag’s renowned Top 100 DJ list, but Aly (real name Aly Fathallab) and Fila (real name Fadi Wassef Nahuib), who have made the list five times, are a special treat. The duo managed to do what no other DJ troupe in Egypt has done before—they made it big.
“It is very rare,” they said together in an email interview with the Taipei Times. “We were the first duo from Egypt who went international. For sure it was not easy, Egypt is quite far from most European cities, but we stuck at it and joined a booking agency and it snowballed from there.”
And the world responded well to the pair’s unique take on trance, helping them establish a new subgenre of the form. Fans have described their music as euphoric and emotional and their style has been coined “Egyptian trance” because it is heavily laced with elements of Egyptian culture.
“It is something new for an Egyptian trance duo,” they continued. “It’s quite mystical with the whole ancient Egyptian side of things, and we are very well supported by DJs such as Armin van Buuren in their play lists and radio shows, and that helps massively.”
The pair credits Paul van Dyk as their big push into the scene. “We used to collect [his] mixes in the mid- to late 1990s and it really inspired us to make electronic music. And because of the energy in his music and sets, you can see our sets are full of energy also.”
Both Aly and Fila, who met in kindergarten in Egypt, still reside in Cairo where they are working on expanding a rapidly growing scene. “Electronic dance music is growing nicely in Egypt. House music is (already) quite big but we are trying to change that with our events and weekly radio show on Nile FM called Future Sound of Egypt,” they said.
But though Aly & Fila and their trance counterparts dominate top DJ lists, some people think the genre is on its way out as electro DJs takeover festival lineups and top charts worldwide. Ferry Corsten, a Dutch trance DJ that needs little introduction, says he’s not opposed to the jump.
“Electro is an interesting genre,” said Corsten, who has just returned from deejaying in Iceland near the North Pole. “I use many elements of it within my tracks. While I will always stay true to trance, I’ll try and put new elements in it and experiment a little to see what the result may be.”
Corsten originally did not plan to focus on trance, but was encouraged by his success in the genre. “I wasn’t really interested into trance when I started. I was just interested in music in all forms. The first tracks I produced were quite underground. I produced a whole range of genres: electro, house and even hardcore. I reached a good amount of success with my trance productions, which lead me to take it further.”
And further it went. Corsten has since released seven studio albums and has an awards list that is longer than the number of years that electro has been around.