Singing Off the Beaten Path: Having a Romantic Chat with the Two Sharmoofers
We speak to the musical masterminds about their newest emotional direction.
We have quite the vested interest in what Sharmoofers are up to with their music, but it’s more about their evolution as performers and artists rather than just their infectiously catchy tunes. Though we’re used to seeing their outlandish, socially-scathing videos (usually with a guy in his underwear centre-stage), they’ve taken a more heartfelt turn lately with their newest work of art, Moftaqed Al Habiba (Missing the Sweetheart). In the span of about 6 years, they’ve gone from boxers to broken hearts, and the diversity of their approach and style has more than matched the speed at which they continue to evolve, setting them apart from just about every other band out there. So to dive into the dreamscape that makes up their music, we as well as our intrepid colleagues over at El Fasla took to meeting the two minds behind the group, and dove into their stream of creative consciousness about what’s up, what’s down and what’s to come.“We didn’t decide to get into romance just for the hell of it, our tracks just kind of pop up, more like manifestations of how we’re feeling at the time, and that was definitely the case with Moftaqed El Habiba,” said Mohamed El Arkan (AKA Moe), after we’d asked him about the reason behind their shift in lyrics and melodies, the style that their audience is largely accustomed to. However, it’s not just the romantic choice of direction that sets this one track apart from the rest; it’s also the direction of the accompanying video – starring both “Moe” and co-moofer Bob alongside the charming young actress Yasmine Raeis, and produced by Hady El-Bagoury.
We wondered whether or not this was sort of their “first foray” into acting, to which Bob had this to say, "if taking a more theatrical turn will benefit Sharmoofers in general, then great, but that’s definitely not in the works right now. We still need to pour our focus into the music more than anything, seeing as acting is a massive endeavour for any of us.” Bob nonchalantly asserted, going on further to express whatever interest he had in acting, "I don’t see myself as an actor at all, my head is way too deep into our music, but if it’ll help us get a bit more exposure, then why not? You can get a lot of limelight that way.”
It’s only human to want to err on the side of caution, especially when you have a good thing going on. But you can’t really go anywhere without stepping out of the box every now and then, risks considered. Though Sharmoofers threw their audience into the betting pool with their latest endeavour, it wasn’t entirely up to chance, or so Moe would have us believe, “of course we were concerned about the impact it would have on our crowd, but we weren’t too scared seeing as our country’s audience has a thing for gloom and doom. So a melancholic romance ballad was a safe risk, if such a thing were to exist, so we were cautiously optimistic.”
A thought happened to careen across our conjoined minds; are Sharmoofers better at asking questions or answering them? The answer would be found in their couple-centric talk show of sorts, “Anest we Sharmaft,” in which the two are hosts, chewing the fat with random couples. “Of course we love to be the ones asking the questions, there’s nothing better than throwing questions at people and watching them fumble around for a response.”
Bob, as he is wont to do, wrote the lyrics for Moftaqed El Habia, but if Bob were to choose somebody to bear those lyrics with their voice, who would it be? After some deep thought, he says, “definitely Mohamed Mounir if it’s in an Arabic-speaking country, but if it was English, I’d love to work with either Shaggy or Sean Paul.” If it were Moe choosing who to work with, however, it would either be Mohamed Mounir, Cheb Khaled or even Cheb Mami. So now we know who they’d like to work with, but what about the people they look up and listen to? Moe says, “if it were me, and in no specific order, I’d say Autostrad from Jordan, an Egyptian Afro band called Hawidro and Ahmed Safy’s Sokoun.” Bob's choice of tunes isn’t dissimilar from his cohort, “I like Hawidro too, and there’s this other artist I’d recently discovered called Manal – a powerful Moroccan rapper.”Sharmoofers are, without a doubt, a breed unlike any other when it comes to Egypt’s music scene, but a question persists; what would they label their own music, and what is their target audience? You’d think a band with as much variety and outlandishness as they have would struggle to find an answer, but they put it down eloquently, “we’re not really targeting too specific of an audience, all we care about is them finding a bit of themselves in the music, cracking a smile out of it or simply just enjoying the beat. Mothers like our music as much as children do, and we generally want everybody to enjoy us, we’re a bit greedy in that regard.” Moe had his own two cents to add, saying that “even though we’re considered a commercial band, we still try to keep our music as fresh as we can, but at the same time, we have to look at our albums from a sales standpoint; we need to make sure that they speak to as wide a demographic as they can.”Bob and Moe are still setting up their upcoming summer album, “Enfesam (Schizophrenia);” of which, Moftaqed El Habiba is the starting track, and they’re fully aware of how moods and tastes change over time, and they’re ready for it. “Things have changed since we first started out of course, but there was a turning point for us that happened about a year ago; in the sense that our massive concerts weren’t a thing back then, and the reason for that is a lot of things. Younger generations, for example, the ones that usually just stream our stuff at home, they’re out buying tickets for our shows now, and we have sponsors, commercials and all sorts of stuff we didn’t have.” Bob explained. Seeing as the first track flew over well with crowds all over, only time will tell how the rest of the album will pan out.
A CAROUSEL PRODUCTION
FASHION DIRECTOR |GEHAD ABDALLA
DOP |MOHAMED AMIN
EDITOR AND MUSIC PRODUCER |AMR AUSTIN
FASHION COORDINATOR |OMAR HESHAM
WARDROBE |MAISON 69 HOXTON HOUSE
YASMIN RAEIS TEAM |
STYLIST | ABIER ANSARY
MAKEUP ARTIST | MIRNA KAUZMAN
HAIR STYLIST | KIMI SAFADI