In any Cairokee-interview you’ve come across, he’s the guy in the background listening rather than talking. This gave people an opportunity to make false assumptions about him; They’ve said that he is living in his own world, that he must be using drugs, and that he isn’t conscious half of the time. They’ve spread all sorts of rumors but not anymore because Cairokee’s very own Sherif El-Hawary has decided to break the silence, first through a Facebook post where he expressed his thoughts and second, as we were lucky enough to host him, through us.
There is a stereotyped image of musicians as those long-haired, drug and alcohol fueled, egotistical womanizers engaged in a bohemian lifestyle, where they sleep all day, wake up at night and never shower. That is the only way people know it and that’s the way Hawary has been perceived.
But is that right? At our office wasn’t just the talented Hawary but also his beloved wife, and here is what she said about him, “He is punctual, totally against drugs and alcohol, sleeps late but wakes up early and not at all a womanizer even before we got married. He helps around the house, and believe it or not he showers every day!” This little family is expecting a baby soon. “I try to wash the dishes and take care of our dogs now that Sara is pregnant and for me, going with her to the doctor so we can see the baby is a special occasion,” Hawary tells. So yes, people’s assumptions about the wild life of rock stars are fortunately a fantasy. “I am against drug addiction, and I hate to be around people who take drugs or drink alcohol, I prefer communication with people that are mentally present and well-aware,” he argues.
That is not the only misconception; the whole intricacy of the music production process is rather underappreciated. “People don’t get the complexity of the work, they assume that an artist can make up a song in ten minutes, as if it is as simple as that,” Sherif says.
After being Cairokee’s guitarist for nearly twelve years, Sherif has recently become more open to exploring other things as well, “I have started writing songs, I feel like I have a lot to say. I am currently writing two songs about genital mutilation, and animal rights. If I hadn’t told you, you’d never know that they tackle these specific topics unless you hear them from 10 to 20 times,” he says. “In our culture, people are used to having lyrical topics spoon-fed to them. Song writers have to be superficial and obvious so people won’t have to think about what they are trying to say. This is very limiting,” he adds.
Hawary who, in addition to his song writing and guitar-playing, also sings, vocalized the song ‘Abl ElWossol’ in Cairokee’s album ‘Nas w Nas’. “We make 10 songs on average in each album. But a musician’s output is much more than that, so it is normal if I want to expend my energy on something else.” He says, “I could do something outside of Cairokee if I have a song that represents my ideas but not necessarily the band’s. We don’t have this kind of sensitivity in the band. In fact, we tend to encourage each other’s creativity and projects, because that’s basically what family does; they push each other forward so that everyone gets to advance. Cairokee will always be my priority.”
Even the greatest bands throughout history of time have broken up at some point, what makes Cairokee different? “We don’t undergo the same struggles as other bands because we were raised together, we aren’t musicians who met up to create a band.” He says, “Amir even used to leave us his house-key outside, I’d get in and his mom would make me food. We are more than a family,” he recalls.
Sherif’s quietness has raised a lot of question marks, “I can be socially awkward, but it really depends on the fans. One time a guy came up to me and said, you are the best drummer in Egypt,” Sherif jokes. “I interact normally with fans when there is proper communication between us,” he adds.
This gifted Cairokee band member wants to be a musician without the privileges of celebrity. “I have never rejected someone’s request to take a photo with me because I am not impolite but I am not happy with it. There is a whole trend of I went to a Cairokee concert and I took a photo with them. I would hate for it to be about taking photos with celebrities rather than hearing the music. I don’t have a problem with taking photos with fans when there is a specific time for it,” he says.
On awkward situations that have happened to him, Sherif reveals, “one time, a guy pulled me aggressively into the crowd to take a photo with me, but I left anyways and so he spat on me”. “Another time I was at a restaurant with my wife and a guy came up to me and said: let’s take a photo. I had food in my mouth and he was like: now! I asked him seriously? And he was like, sorry…”
After transforming our office spirit with his beautiful melodies, Sherif tells us that Cairokee’s new album is due to come out later this year, and we certainly can’t wait!
Follow Sherif ElHawary on his Facebook Page