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Student DJ: Marc Wahba V Nour Fahmy

On the dawn of the final battle before the semi-finals of the epic Student DJ Program, we put Marc Wahba and Nour Fahmy head-to-head...

After four rounds, eight DJ contestants, 120 tracks, 2,375 fists pumped and 3,063 buttons pressed, it's the last round before the big semi-finals of Student DJ featuring Nour Fahmy and former Electrum stalwart Marc Wahba. Taking place once again at Omar Khayyam boat in Zamalek, on Thursday 4th December, the party will be kicked off by M Fayek and headlining is Brazilian House and Nu-Disco wunderkind Vintage Culture.

Nour Fahmy

Nour Fahmy, 24, started mixing nine years ago, in 2006. As most beginners, it was a house party, it was Virtual DJ, and it was "an epic fail." Following another few learning curves and a brief hiatus of pure listening and the gift of Traktor decks from his girlfriend, Fahmy got back on the horse. Today, if you put your ear to the ground you will hear whispers of Fahmy being a favourite for this year's top prize. After missing out on season one of the competition and letting nerves get the best of him deciding not to enter the hugely popular second, Fahmy is set to stand tall behind the decks this Thursday. 

Marc Wahba

Marc Wahba, 27, has managed DJs for much of his adult life as well as managing clubs and nightlife events. He is now becoming a DJ, so natural progression suggests he may one day turn into a nightclub himself but before this, he's got one of the biggest days of his music career ahead of him. His passion for music visibly transcends when he discusses his journey from making mixtapes off MTV as a kid to finally making the leap from being surrounded by DJs and artists, to becoming one.

Lets say you made it big, would you manage yourself?

Marc: I guess at a certain point I would but it really helps sometimes to get someone else to help you so you can truly focus on music. But I doubt I'd make it that far...

Nour, would you let Marc manage you?

Nour: Haha, definitely.

What kind of music can we expect from you guys?

Marc: Everyone’s very curious… I'm very curious myself. But, I'll put it in words that you can understand: Dance-y Competition House.

And in words we can't?

Marc: At some point everything is categorised but when they created music there were no genres. So I categorise it by certain sounds… It makes a lot more sense when you listen to it rather than categorise...

What kind of sounds do you gravitate towards more?

Marc: Kicks. Egyptians love kicks. Nothing but kicks... hahaha.

Nour: Expect some groovy Tech-House music. It could get a little darker and deeper and I'll be playing some original mash-ups. This is what I'm looking forward to; my own mixture of music in terms of genres. 

Where do you think you can differentiate yourselves from other DJs?

Nour: The amount of music I listen to, I know my music very well!

Marc: It's not about tricks and techniques as much as its about being secure in my intuition. I'd like to think I've been around long enough to know what people like. It's not easy to put it into 30 minutes to be honest, but hopefully I'll pull it off. 

What kind of music do you listen to when you're not DJing?

Nour: I love Pink Floyd. They're my all-time favourites I also like Florence + the Machine.

Marc: I personally don't listen to a lot of electronic music in my free time. I'm more into Reggae, Dub and Chill Out. I prefer to listen to House music in a club, with a proper sound system.

How has club culture in Egypt influenced your music sensibilities?

Marc: Honestly I've waited for this day for quite a while but not in terms of competition, just my first proper gig. If I had an ideal place or kind of music to play it would be really similar to what Hassan Abou Allam plays, that's what gets me going. But it is a competition at the end of the day and in terms of the flow or the set and the track selection, you can't really go that way. I'm influenced by a lot of things every day that shape what I play, not necessarily club culture.

Nour: Recently the music scene in Egypt has become very wide. Everyone is focusing more on the music so it gives you space to play whatever you want because for sure there is someone out there listening to the same kind of music. I think the crowd will give me the freedom to play whatever I want.

Whats the biggest lesson you learned from the bootcamp? 

Nour: The bootcamp was amazing! The whole experience, the people, the vibe... everyone! I was really focused on the technical part because that's what I really wanted to get out of this bootcamp, like producing mash-ups.

Marc: The whole experience was really amazing. If you're into DJing it's like going to Disney Land, honestly. The biggest benefit was, like Nour said, the technical side, because you had this number of hours everyday to actually practice with access to equipment which you wouldn't usually get. We had really good teachers on board; Amir Farag really helped a lot and Jamie Griffiths was amazing. It was just overall fun more than anything! It's cool to be around this equipment all day! I practically didn't leave the house.

Where do you find the balance between satisfying yourself and satisfying the crowd? What motivates you more?

Marc: This is the biggest dilemma I have so far and a lot of DJs have that dilemma. Like I said this is a competition, it's 30 minutes so I just have to do what I have to do. I don't necessarily have to play vocals and catchy music. It's not about that; you can get to people with different sounds even if its called Techno. There are techno tracks that are accessible to girls who aren't into music but it's tough to find that stuff. At the end of the day it's all just sounds! If you don't categorise it you're good to go! I'm not putting a limit to anything and I'm not constricted to one genre.

Nour: I have a different point of view... it's an art. Music and DJing is an art. I usually think of it this way: when Leonardo Davinci drew the Mona Lisa, he didn't think of what the people want to see. He just drew what he felt and people loved it and really appreciated it. You should do what you feel because music is the art of expressing and thinking with sounds so you should think and express your feelings with sounds and you'll touch the crowd.

Biggest pet peeve when Djing?

Nour: Someone asking you to play something. That's a killer. For the whole night. 

Marc: I don't like people around me whilst Djing, it irritates me, I prefer to be left alone.

Do you think being the last DJs to play this round has given you an advantage?

Nour: For sure! It helps you analyse the crowd. The kind of direction people were taking was a little bit too rough or not rough enough. It is an advantage, to be honest, to have seen what happened.

Female DJs in Egypt. Discuss...

Marc: Honestly, the way I look at it is that its not "Female DJs" it's just DJs ya3ni, they just happens to be women. Obviously in any kind of domain, girls get a lot more attention but at the end of the day you can't pursue success because of that. If you're a girl, at some point you're going to have to bring it! You know what I mean? They're a lot more emotional in general so I think they have something special to bring to the dance floor.

Nour: But recently I've met girls who know good music and what's happening with the music industry.

Marc: Maie [El Sabi] did really well! I was quite impressed with what she did, and Dina [Rizkalla] has progressed a lot.

Nour: It was interesting to see that all the girls this year did a lot better than the average guy at the bootcamp.

Okay, you can ask each other any question you like...

Marc: Who do you think is going to win the competition besides you?

Nour: Gaser El Safty, he's really good... Would you take DJing as a career?

Marc: Honestly I would if it could pay my bills but not in Egypt though. 

A lot of DJs in Egypt have hit a will, in terms of progressing to play abroad...

Marc: If you want to cross to that scene you need at least a bunch of productions under your belt. Mixing right now is something quite common so I think labels are looking for pure talent. It's about pushing the limits on where you can take your music. Some DJs have that in mind and some don't, some do it for purely entertainment value.

Nour: The scene is really just beginning in Egypt and I see music as an educational career; if you want to proceed then you have to learn more and more and never get enough of music.

Marc: Connections really help as well, specifically in the music business. It's really, really tough and you basically need to know someone. 

Okay, what happens when we die?

Nour: We get judged...

As humans or as DJs?

Nour: Haha, both!

Marc: What happens when you die... Well I don't want to sound too cliche but I have a hard time believing that everything just shuts off for some reason. I think we're not really supposed to know, our brains aren't developed enough to uncover that area and honestly I'm not really curious to know.

Any other message you want to give to the fans?

Marc: I really enjoyed being part of this. It's a really really cool campaign! Music is infinite, the number of notes you can play are infinite. There are always people who are into music everywhere! It has nothing to do with geography, there aren't more talented people in Europe than in Cairo. A competition like this helps people who are looking for a path to get onto the right path which is music. And stay away from drugs and violence. Thanks to all of those who supported me... I got this far and it's a really hectic experience, a lot tougher than I thought. Honestly, respect to all the DJs who pull it off and make it look easy, because its really tough to reflect whats on your mind. My girlfriend too has been really supportive! 

Did she also buy you DJ equipment?

Marc: Haha, no my mum did! She used to bribe me with DJ equipment so I go to church. Look at me now! That's about it... I love you Aly Bahgat.