Music is more than only a form of entertainment. It’s a way for people to express themselves and bare their souls to others, sharing their stories, cultures and experiences. Ousso’s work in the music field is more than his musical contribution with his many bands and projects. He has also given many Egyptian musicians the opportunity to share their music. Since he started the SOS Festival, more and more bands have come out, playing their original music instead of covers, “I was trying to push bands to play their own music”, he tells us. While Ousso was happy with the success of SOS, he realized that really good musicians were a scarce commodity in Egypt. This is when he first came up with the idea of SO Soloist (Save Our Soloist), which after many trials and tribulations and metamorphosis gave birth to the idea of Ewsal Bel 3araby.
“I found greater talents in other governorates. It’s simple, they have less distractions than Cairo residents”
When Ousso traveled outside of Cairo and Alexandria, he realized that there’s plenty of talent that we’re missing out on, “I found greater talents in other governorates. It’s simple, they have less distractions than Cairo residents”, he explains. He combined those elements together and decided to take a soloist from each governorate. This idea came to life finally, this year.
Working to create Egypt’s national music team, Ousso will bring the musicians each Thursday night to Cairo, leaving the following Saturday; everything from transportation to accommodation will be covered. Here, they will take lessons with professional musicians such as Hany Adel, Shady Ahmed, Ezz Shahwan and many more, “they’ll take lessons and have homework for 3 months. Those who don’t perform well will leave. On the fourth month I’ll get them in a studio and divide them into bands. I’ve already taken them to band performances as well”, he says. This isn’t all, Ewsal Bel 3araby’s YouTube channel and Facebook pages give their followers the opportunity to learn music for free, through lessons given by the most important artists in the music scene in Egypt.
“some governorates are very active, such as Mansoura, which has a big music scene, because they had Internet since 1995 and have plenty of foreign exchange students”
The whole concept has been an eye opener. Many Cairenes have never considered the possibility of overlooked talents from other parts of Egypt. Ousso tells us that, in fact, there’s plenty of music all over Egypt, “some governorates are very active, such as Mansoura, which has a big music scene, because they had Internet since 1995 and have plenty of foreign exchange students”, he tells, “Assyout as well, because of the music in churches, Minya hosts music events at Jesuites, and Alexandria, obviously. Of course folklore is everywhere, in weddings for example, but you won’t find Cairo Zoom there”.
“Of course folklore is everywhere, in weddings for example, but you won’t find Cairo Zoom there”
Ousso expects all kinds of different genres to come out of Ewsal Bel 3araby, but some will probably be more dominant than others, “I’m noticing that the electronic and hip hop scenes are booming in Cairo and other governorates”, he explains, “but we’ll touch upon all styles. In the videos you’ll see Oriental, Turkish, Jazz and Rock music”. Musical evolution in Egypt is very intriguing, “if you go to Nazlet El Semman you’ll find incredible rappers, and they rap in Nazlet El Semman dialect, too”, he tells.
Impoverished areas bringing out new forms of music – and even genres of their own – is something that we’ve all noticed lately. The controversial “Mahraganat” is something we couldn’t not bring up with Ousso, “there will always be people who will be against anything new that comes out; this is ignorant behavior”, he tells, “I personally don’t listen to it, but at the same time I respect it because they’re expressing themselves and they’re being attacked for it”. Ousso would even like to reach Mahraganat singers so that they can collaborate on projects in Ewsal Bel 3arabi, “when you offer them new directions, this will develop their music”, he explains, “rap and mahraganat are very important and when they develop they’ll bring out really good work. This is an Egyptian product unlike anything else. I play Jazz, and make it more like our music with fusion, and I add my own touch so it sounds like ‘Ousso’, but those kids are doing something we’ve never seen before”.
“I play Jazz, and make it more like our music with fusion, and I add my own touch so it sounds like ‘Ousso’, but those kids are doing something we’ve never seen before”
We can’t wait to see what Ewsal Bel 3araby will bring out. The participants’ progress will be updated on the website, and short videos of their workshops will be uploaded. Finally, their graduation concert will be published when their course is done. As for the future, Ousso has big plans, “15 musicians will come out every six months. These musicians will teach in their governorates and will become entrepreneurs and will open places. Imagine that army of musicians”, he tells, “imagine in five years there will be 150 musicians from all over Egypt, not just Cairo. I know that in four or five years I’ll be able to get a tour bus and have a tour all over Egypt because I’ll have the musicians”.
Even on the short term, and even for those who don’t plan on joining Ewsal Bel 3araby as representatives of their governorates, the online lessons make sure that everyone can benefit from this. Social Media tutorials taken to the next level with utter professionalism. If you want to learn anything about music, all you need to do is open Ewsal Bel 3araby’s website, Facebook or YouTube and you will have the opportunity to learn from the best artists in Egypt. Until now, this is the only project in Egypt that allows artists to learn from each other and share their experiences.