In the run-up to the first Student DJ battle, every week, the SceneNoise team will be interviewing the two competitors. Up this week: Hatem Chiati and Bashar Galal…
On Thursday 6th November Hatem Chiati will face Bashar Galal in the first round of Student DJ battles at Fairmont Nile City Skypool, with Baher warming up and an international spinner headlining, yet to be announced. Ahead of the gig we get to know the two burgeoning artists a little better...
The affable young Chiati is a multi-instrumentalist who has banged, plucked and sung his way through childhood which, to be fair, wasn't that long ago, having only recently turned 18. After garnering a sort of tween following with his talented high-school rock band Bandetta, Hatem split to concentrate on "working alone, on different kinds of music, to a different crowd. I was bored of the generic limitations." He is currently studying music technology and sound engineering at AUC. Having started producing a year and a half ago with some Dub and House, his recent projects purvey a mature and dark journey into the world of after hours Techno, influenced by the likes of Gardens of God.
Galal, otherwise known as his artist name, ühm, started up playing Oud, - "which was fucked up" - when he was nine, and then taught himself to play guitar before Amr Khaled of Fulltone started teaching him more about theory and production. After taking a professional production course two years ago in London, Galal has been honing his sound. It was admittedly "cheesy" at first, before something was "unlocked" during a recent six-month stay in Berlin, where he began listening to "heavy shit" Techno. His recent releases are dark, groovy, and show an engrossing ardour towards unique flowing soundscapes and rhythm.
Why do you want to be a DJ?
Galal: To put it in the simplest way possible, I have a passion for music and I would like to share it with as many people as I possibly can. It makes me 10 times happier than I am listening to it by myself.
Chiati: I'm mainly a producer, but I'm also a DJ because as someone who produces, I can analyse the different elements in a track and therefore I know what the crowd wants and when they want it, while innovating with the music that is being played.
What kind of music can we expect from you at the battle?
Galal: The kind of House music that would make the most boring people get off their asses and dance.
Chiati: The music that I will play will be more towards dark Deep House and Techno.
What do you think differentiates your style from the other DJs?
Galal: I come from an old-school Funk background. When that evolved over the past few years it became something groovy enough for almost all tastes and styles.
Chiati: What differentiates my style is that I come from a musical background, so I never forget the musical element in a track. Not just the khabt. But I can't really tell you what differentiates me, you'll have to wait and see.
What kind of music do you listen to when you're not DJing?
Galal: I listen to almost everything, Classical Rock, Jazz, Ambient Rock, Post-Rock, Garage, Two Step, Old-school Hip-hop... the only genre that I never really got into was Dub-step. Doesn't mean I don't respect its existence though. To each his own.
Chiati: I listen to all types of music. Literally. Rock, Jazz, Om Kalthoum, Techno, Electronica. Pretty much any arranged sound. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd. And Pink Floyd.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at the boot camp?
Galal: It was an intensely fun and educating experience, but the lesson that stuck with me the most was definitely the fact that you should enjoy the shit out of whatever you're doing. It's always the vibe that you pass on to people.
Chiati: That hard work gets you further than talent.
How has partying culture influences your musical sensibilities?
Chiati: For me it was really just a couple of years ago that I went to Nacelle and I was liking this kind of music for the first time, and something strange happened where I couldn't analyse the timbres and everything going on. I was very interested in all the raw elements that make up these amazing minimal soundscapes. I started by listening to simple stuff that could be understood, where you know, for instance, that is a saw wave. But then you want to start listening to more complex tracks, and challenge yourself because you don't know how it's done. In Techno I think people like Maceo Plex are the most innovative.
Galal: Partying is definitely a big factor. I think most people who start DJing or producing any kind of House music start from going to parties. That's the drive, seeing how people dance and react and knowing exactly what you prefer yourself.
Chiati: That's your crowd, that's who you're targeting. So if you're the person who is being "mind controlled" on the dance floor, you have to be that puppet at the beginning in order to become the puppet master!
What's more of a drive? That feeling of being puppet master, getting everyone moving or putting out a track that satisfies you personally?
Galal: I think something that satisfies me is more important. When I started having fun with DJing was when I started playing the shit that we listen to now, that has this real umph to it, as opposed to the cheesier more typically dance stuff I was listening to when I started. Once you get into producing you appreciate different things and start making and playing the music that you like. But at the same time, you need to alter it a bit. When I'm at home I feel my music is really heavy, and only a few people would like to listen to it, so you have to make a bit of a compromise if you're playing to an audience.
Chiati: The problem is some DJs take this communication the wrong way, they take it that they come to play what the crowd wants to hear... The DJ should be the guy in society that is moving, and pushing the music forward. People should come to see him because he knows what's new and what will make you dance.
Where will you find that balance at Student DJ?
Galal: I think I'm lucky because the music I like is a bit heavy but at the same time I always like groovy shit; the kind of music that makes you feel "I have to get up and dance." I like this kind of music and it works.
Chiati: It's our job to know the different moods of the crowd and of each track, and make people dance.
What is the worst thing about your opponent?
Galal: I've always loved the fucker. We knew each other before the camp. As a DJ, I think he's really good, but something he does which I'd prefer not to do is putting a lot of effects and experimenting during the live set. He does it very well though, it's a style. He likes the atmospheric elements and is very detailed.
Chiati: Bashar's like my older brother.His DJing is groovy neek to be honest. Tight neek.
Neither of you really answered the question, but OK. What's you're biggest DJ pet peeve?
Chiati: When I'm in the middle of a mix and someone comes and requests a song. Emshy men hena! Unless, to be fair, it's a really good track that's in the style I like. Then yeah, peace, I'll play it. But if a guy comes and asks "Tayeb, inta hatel3ab Deep House el sa3a kam ya captain?" Emshy!
Galal: Haha, ahh, ma3ad el Deep emta?!
Chiati: Ah, and when a girl is DJing and dancing like this *starts pumping elbow by his head and pretending to mix*
Galal: Yeah, requesting and people who tell you what to play next, like... can you play lighter shit? You came here to see whoever's playing, so give him a chance to play his whole set. A set is a journey and you have to let it go up and down. Especially in the crowd. You'll find 50% want to keep listening and 50% want something else, so you can't keep following different groups.
There's a very concentrated amount of DJs and producers in the same scene now. Can you just listen to music and enjoy it or are you constantly analysing performances and sounds?
Galal: It becomes automatic...
Chiati: Ahh! I go out to Nacelle to study the music!
Galal: But to be honest I can enjoy the music and stand there analysing very normally and switch. I think this came from the four months I spent in Berlin. Beforehand, I was ignorant when it came to House music. Over there, I was mainly alone, so although I went out to enjoy myself I was always concentrating on the music, and focused on what was being played.
Best set you've ever heard live?
Chiati: Tale of Us in Mykonos.
Galal: Heidi at Watergate in Berlin. She's very intense.
Chiati: Guy Gerber in New York as well. You feel like it's almost the same track throughout the whole set with him, but I have a lot of respect for him for taking a very small amount of elements and making it dynamic neek.
Galal: Which is why Hatem loves him!
Female DJs in Egypt. Discuss...
Chiati: First time I saw girls DJing in front of me it was at the boot camp. I think the problem is they're not really brave.
Galal: I think that's just in Egypt, they're not ballsy enough.
Chiati: Maybe it's a complex because they want to prove themselves and play stuff that's very in-the-box.
Galal: It's not that. I think in Egypt especially we have to start accepting a lot first before we can get to the point where we accept girls as DJs. We have certain genres that are usually played in the party scene in Egypt; that in itself is a fucked up flaw.
Chiati: There's a complex with the music, but there's also a complex with women in general.
Galal: A party in Egypt is more of a place to get drunk and socialise, not just about listening to music.
Can we play some word association?
Galal: Old School
Galal: Goofy as fuck
Nice. Okay, if you had to take your competitor out on a date, where would you take them?
Chiati: Nacelle, haha.
Describe your favourite dance move in words...
Galal: It's like you're humping the air very slowly...
Chiati: I was going to say penetration, haha. Like very slow penetration *begins making love to the air*
Galal: This is starting to get a bit...
Chiati: *continues* Like sideways, fahem... mara keda, mara keda...
Last question, what happens when we die?
Chiati: Nothing. A void.
Galal: Move on to the next life!
Would you be a DJ in your next life?
Galal: Yeah, but I'd start a bit earlier!
Chiati: I'm going to be a chemistry professor.
To Reserve for this Student DJ Battle on Thursday 6th November contact: 01200642285