Pioneering live House music in Egypt, the eclectic crew that make up Soopar Lox come by for some banter.
A hugely talented and highly original collective whose eclectic Oriental, house and funk sounds have taken Cairo by storm, Soopar Lox‘s high-energy performances have won over the hearts of many a music lover. This week we sat down with Negm, Akram, Hameed and Bassem as we talked bitches, Justin Bieber, and super powers…
Firstly, what do you all do within the band?
Negm – I play drums and do some vocals.
Akram – I play guitar.
Hameed – Bass.
Bassem – Vocals.
How did you all meet?
Akram - I had this idea for the band and then I met Negm at a friend’s house and we were jamming together and I told him about the idea so it was me and Negm to start off with.
Negm - I was interested in doing a mix of live and electronic music. Akram was starting up a similar project and we happened to meet by coincidence.
The obvious question is, where did the name Soopar Lox come from?
Akram – It came from a friend of mine called ‘Tata. Ask him anything, he’d say “this is lox.” So we were thinking of a name for the band and my ex was sitting there and suggested Lox based on Tata’s obsession with the word. Then that quickly changed to Soopar Lox.
What kind of music inspired you all at the beginning?
Hameed – Each one of us has a different musical background. For me, I love rock music. I used to play it with many bands in Egypt but when Akram called me I thought Soopar Lox was a really nice idea. It’s a mix between Arabic, electronic and house music. Also there is that live element with the drums and guitars too.
There’s not really much of a band culture in Egypt. Have any of you thought, fuck it, I’ll just be a DJ?
Negm – Not really, but there were no bands doing dance music and we wanted to make a band that could play at those sorts of parties. That was the idea. We wanted to be original, not a cover band.
Why do you think Egyptians lean more towards DJs rather than bands?
Akram - I think that’s in the whole world, not just Egypt. I see the trends and popularity of the nights being one of the owners of Cairo Jazz Club. Egyptians are not very open to accepting different types of music; if you notice when you go to CJC on Tuesday, it’s a totally different crowd, different people, different mentalities. Band nights at CJC are picking up.
Who are some of your band’s inspirations?
Akram – Faithless. I love the idea of his live shows and how he puts all the elements together.
Bassem – I got my musical training through sha3by music, storytelling through songs and a lot of theatre. That helped us figure out how we can mix singing with theatrics. This experience with Soopar Lox allows us to mix house music with vocals – it’s not sha3by but it has the ree7a masreya.
Who is the Negm of Soopar Lox ?
Akram - Negm, of course.
So Negm, have you ever considered being like Geri from the Spice Girls and leaving them all because you are the real star of the band?
Negm – No, we all work together and I still have a long way to go and so much to learn. They have a lot of experience in Western music while my experience is in Middle Eastern music.
Wasn’t Amina Khalil in the band? Did you even get confused and get the fashion designer to sing with you by mistake?
Hameed - No.
Where has she gone?
Akram - We have had a changing line up over the years, but we kind of evolved, as well, in our sounds.
You kicked her out didn’t you?
Negm - She was eclipsing my magnetism, I am the star. She had to leave.
With your unique live sound, how did the crowd react the first time you did a show? Did they know what to do?
Hameed – Yes, they sort of knew what to do. They danced…
Do you have a dedicated following like Lady Gaga has her little monsters?
Bassem - We have a Wadee3 fan club!
If you could have any vocalist in the world sing with you, who would it be?
Negm – Om Kalthoum.
The Ikhwan come to you and asks you to play a Brotherhood song to promote their cause for one million pounds, would you do it?
Negm - There would have to be a lot more money in the deal than that.
Akram – English pounds maybe.
Have you been affected at all by the Ikhwan?
Hameed – Emotionally yes, but not practically.
Negm – On the plus side, since the Brotherhood has taken over, there’s been an outpouring of musical talent in Egypt, and that’s been really positive. New DJs are entering the scene and there have been aesthetic changes, making it a surprisingly exciting time for music in Egypt.
Who do you like out of the local musicians around?
Negm – I play with other groups, so I am biased. But I like Abu, Revival, Riff Band, and Percussion Show.
What’s next for the band?
Basem – We’re working on an album at the moment.
Any performances planned outside of Egypt?
Akram - Once our album is released we plan to try and go on some regional tours.
Have you guys considered turning in to deep house DJs?
Negm – Is that a type of pizza?
What’s your favourite venue to play at: Cairo Jazz Club or Cairo Jazz Club?
Negm – Unfortunately, there aren’t very many venues for Western live music in Cairo – for a city of so many there should be a lot of venues. That’s another reason why there are more DJs – the support doesn’t exist here as much for live bands. However, we love performing at CJC.
Anything strange ever happened to you guys whilst performing?
Akram – We played a gig in Sharm and there was a fire act. Some sparks flew off the table and the stage caught on fire!
Does being in a band help you get bitches?
Hameed – They all have girlfriends or wives, except Bassem!
Do you guys help Bassem get bitches?
Akram – No comment.
If each of you had a super power, what would it be?
Negm – I personally would like being able to create anything out of thin air – lots of money, for example.
Akram – I’d like to fly.
Hameed – Same.
Bassem – I want to read people’s thoughts.
If you were booked on the same gig as One Direction would you show up?
Negm – Who the fuck Is One Direction?
What about Bieber?
Negm – I think he’s pretty fucking talented man. I don’t dig his music, but he’s good at what he does. You have to appreciate the production values to be fair.
Would you open for Amr Diab?
Akram – Of course.
Anyone you wouldn’t open for?
Akram – Haifa Wahbe, I would rather she opened for us.
What was the best gig you ever played?
Negm - Last time at the Jazz Club was really enjoyable; nice vibe, nice crowd, we all had fun and we got a lot of new gear. Recently, we’ve really connected as band. We had a period where we were a little bit confused and were changing members, and we weren’t sure what was what. But in the last gig – the last couple of times actually – I think we worked it out. Everyone really enjoyed the last gig.
Akram – Peace of mind.
Negm - A form of happiness is when you’re playing to a room full of people and they’re singing your songs.
Hameed - Having a really nice gig.
Bassem - I agree with Akram. Peace of mind.
Have you ever played whilst having sex? Maybe with a banjo?
Akram – I don’t want to get into too many details…
Negm – You know what, drummers never get any action. When all the other members of the band are heading off and picking up chicks, the drummers are always left packing up the equipment.
Your next upcoming performance is at Cairo Jazz Club on Monday 25th February. What do you guys have in store for us?
Akram - We will be playing some new, exciting songs. We might get some clowns and midgets in.