Wael Alaa AKA NEOBYRD wears a chicken mask while performing the tracks that have made him one of Egypt's most prolific electronic music producers. We invited him to the CairoScene offices to talk Kinder Surprise, classical music and dating Aly B...
Do you think the Metro market “fresh juice” is fresh or mostly sour?
I think it’s sour…
Thank you for coming in, this has been great…
Haha, thank you!
Okay, here we go… What’s your first memory of playing an instrument or being into music?
I’ve ben playing piano since I was 7 years-old. I even did a two-week stint at the Cairo Conservatoire.
Were they the best two weeks of your life?
Were there any musicians in your family?
My mum was a violinist and a guitarist.
What kind of music were you into as a teen?
Mainly, Classical and Disco like Bonnie M. I also liked Michael Jackson and Queen.
Did your friends find it weird that you were listening to Classical music as a teen?
Yeah for sure!
Who were your favourite composers?
Chopin and Tchaikovsky.
How does Classical music help you compose Electronic music?
I’m not really interested in Electronic music but I’m trying to create something new, mixing the modern stuff with my Classical background.
Do you like your own music then?
I can respect what I do, but not necessarily like it as music… Maybe just one or two tracks.
That’s very honest of you. Ever thought about making some Classical music?
I do already but only on my Soundcloud profile. And hopefully I’ll be releasing a semi-classical EP with orchestral intros.
Very cool! Who are your Electronic music influences?
Most of the French Electronic scene, like Air, Mr. Oizo also Daft Punk and a bit of Justice.
How did you come up with the NeoByrd character?
It just came up. NeoByrd was a project with Aya Moustafa and I we went through a lot of Neo-Names then decided on Byrd eventually.
Do you think the bird persona helped you make a name for yourself?
Yes, of course. I’ve always wanted to put on a show, not just stand there and play music. In future I’m even thinking of having an orchestra with me on stage.
Do you make your own masks?
Well, I come up with the concepts myself and ask around for the best materials. I have a guy who finishes it up for me.
What’s your favourite venue?
Rawabet Theatre, because it’s more underground and kinda filthy. People go there just for the show, nothing else.
What was your first gig?
Boss Bar in Maadi. We had a small crowd but it was okay.
Have you played outside of Egypt yet?
I played a small gig in Paris, France. It was a festival. I had to turn down another festival in Germany though because of army and visa issues.
What is a NeoByrd? Is it a real bird and can it fly?
Hell, yeah it can. I doubt he can do anything else but fly.
Who are your favourite musicians to work with here in Egypt?
RashRadio and Yasser El Masry.
What food makes you want to make music?
Any kind of chocolate, but NeoByrd’s favorite is Kinder. I had a song on the previous album called Kinder.
What’s the difference between your latest album release, The King is Dead and your first, TransByrd?
TransByrd was more beat-oriented, and more of an easy listening album. But the King Is Dead is more diverse and also features more compositions.
What’s your favourite track on it?
Good Things Like Chocolate.
Can you get makhboot to your music?
Haha, no, not really.
Have you tried making music whilst on drugs?
I have a theory that if you’re making music under the influence of a certain drug, the audience that listen to it must be in the sample place thus on the same narcotic. I used to make music while smoking up and it’s so repetitive and bland. Then I’d get my friends over, make them smoke up, then introduce them to my track.
Can you make music on ecstasy?
No, but maybe I’ll try haha.
No, but if I knew about this I would’ve got it from home on my way here.
Maybe place it in a Kinder chocolate egg like a new Kinder Surprise right?
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while playing?
The ta3rees of some girls el beyego and say stuff like, “Momken teshaghal 7aga Tanya.” A7a.
You know the ToyBoys?
I've heard about them but don’t know them.
What do they play?
They play at ByGanz events…
Ta3rees ya3ny. Wasn’t there also this guy Mostafa?
Yes, Misty… Shaklo 7elw bardo. If you had to date one DJ, who would it be?
Hmm don’t know, homa kolohom 3ars neek. Musically, Aly B.
Where are you going to take him on a date?
I like how his music has more chords than just beats. Momken akhdo L'Aubergine.
What’s your day job?
Music for ads and hopefully music for movies, as well. I recently scored a Hardees ad actually.
Ever thought about playing Hardee’s music in one of your sets?
Not really but I think it’s a cool idea. Maybe a gig with just ad music. I was actually thinking about making a music video for Good Things Like Chocolate directed by Hussein Shabaan. He was thinking about getting a sponsor like Cadburys.