One of the most memorable characters on the underground music circuit, we find out makes Abo tick.
Believe it or not, we at CairoScene appreciate real music. Yes, you might find us pumping our fists at every techno-rave in town, but honestly, nothing gets us in as good a mood as real, live acoustic music does. That’s why we’ll be hitting up Cairo Jazz Club next week where Abo (formerly of AboMariam fame) will be debuting his new musical project, featuring some of the most talented musicians in all the land. We caught up with the laid-back maestro to talk monkeys, music and making it big…
So why do you call yourself Abo? Is it after the monkey in Aladdin?
Abo has been my nickname since school, so I would say that Aladdin’s monkey was named after me.
How long have you been making music?
It all started with writing. I love words; I love playing around with them in different forms be it in poems, songs or short stories. Music came along when I decided to learn guitar almost 15 years ago, to start giving tunes to carry the words and lyrics to people.
What sparked your interest into performing a unique blend of politically-driven but also humorous original songs?
Most of my songs are not political, yet political songs are most popular given the relevance to what’s happening in Egypt. I love writing about life from multiple dimensions. I get inspiration from people, things, events, stories or jokes. As for humorous political songs, my muse lately has been our great president and his tribe!
Who would you say your musical influences are? And who do you respect in the local scene?
My influences are mainly Sayed Darweesh, Beiram El Tonsy and Sayed Mekkawy. As for international musicians, Jack Johnson, Bob Dylan and Don McLean are some of my favourites. I respect all musicians in the local scene, especially Shady Ahmed, whom I believe will make it to the international scene, soon; Negmo, who I tell all my friends to listen to; Sharmoofers, Akher Zafeer (Jordan), Autostrad (Jordan), Mariam Ali, Idle Mind, SooparLux, and of course, Sabrine El Hossami, one of the most talented and gifted percussionist I’ve ever seen.
Out of Cairo Jazz Club and Cairo Jazz Club, whats’ your favorite place to perform?
My regular venues are Darb 1718, Sakia, Bikya and randomly on the street, but I love Cairo Jazz Club. I’m really looking forward to my upcoming performance – it’s going to be really special.
Yes, we hear you’ve got a whole new musical project, after us getting used to seeing you either solo or with Mariam. Tell us a little bit about it ahead of the debut at Cairo Jazz Club on Tuesday 22nd January…
As for AboMariam, unfortunately it had to stop. However, Mariam is, and will remain to be, my first partner in crime and a close friend. But, yes I am really excited about the new project, Abo wel Shabab. It all started with a random jam with Jack Avakian on the contrabass, when we decided to form a band on the spot. As for Akram (Al Sharif) and Negmo, aside from me being a SooperLux Fan, we have jammed a lot together and we appreciate each other’s music and so we agreed to kick off this amazing mix of great musicians. Even though we all come from different musical background, the contribution of each to the music and groove is super. This band will definitely be among the most popular in the region, I would say. Until then, we’re just wishing, jamming and waiting…