“We thought he was a spy!”, Amir Eid tells us the minute he walked into our studio with the author Walaa Kamal who lived with Cairokee for two years documenting their lives on and off stage… The book is a must have on every shelf as it tackles hard hitting issues such as education, identity, culture and more through the band. We talked to the brilliant writer Walaa and Cairokee’s Lead Vocalist Amir Eid to discuss this page turner.
1.Have you ever imagined reading an entire book based on your life like this? And how did you feel when it happened?
Amir: I have never imagined or even thought about it. Reading the book was a unique experience for me because it was the first time to see the band from outside. It made me see the exceptional things in our lives, and it helped me get to know the band members better. It was surprising, especially because they criticized me a lot, but also fascinating to see the deepth of the topics and the layers within. Every chapter tackles a different issue on the same pattern to the extent that I forgot it was a book about Cairokee because it really is not just about Cairokee. It took us to different aspects of music composition that no other book mentions with this detail, aside from the social aspect, the writing style and the strength of the writer.
2. Did you intervene in the content of the book, or did you leave the complete freedom to Walaa?
Walaa: I told him that the most important thing to me is to have complete freedom to write whatever I want in the end. When I finish, they will get to read it and discuss the content, but the final say has to be mine to guarantee the honesty of the experience and hence its success.
3. What did you learn from the women in Cairokee’s lives?
Walaa: Sherif’s mum told me she wanted the book to deliver a message to all the parents who have children with interests in arts to encourage them early on and not to fall in the same trap of imposing a traditional life related to getting stable jobs. This is what I learnt the most from the women who stood by their children and helped them make use of their talents. In my opinion, these are very strong women. Exactly like the wives that accept the untraditional lives of their husbands and their mentalities and unconventional circumstances. Every member of Cairokee has a mother or a wife that played a vital role in where they are now, and they admit that.
4. Do you think that portraying the struggles within the band members in the book was in your favor, especially that people usually see you as a united group?
Amir: I do not look at it as in our favor or not. Our purpose is for the people to see us as normal people. What I liked the most about this book is that we are only a part of it, not the main subject. I would not have liked to read a book about Cairokee only. When I read this book 30 years from now, I will understand the nature of the current times in Egypt, the mentality of the youth and the issues that concerned them. The people that would benefit the most from this book are the elders who want to know how to deal with their children. Cairokee depicts reality in the way that like nowadays youth, they did not have the best education, but they are open to the world and that’s the most important thing about the book.
5. You stated that you were from the simpler generations that were not really aware of feminism and pornography was their highest ambitions. Do you think that the current generation is overreacting because they are still lost and searching for their identities?
Walaa: They are the greatest audience in the world. The band knew how to reach their audience and talk to them in a different way. I attended concerts of other bands to determine how I really feel, and I felt a huge difference in the energy. You do not just admire an artist for his voice or music, these five are admired because they represent the standards that the current generations believe in and are looking for. They are loyal to Cairokee because they reflect the depressive episodes people face.
6. Three of the band members became fathers last year. Did you find any changes in their characters afterwards?
Walaa: When I was working on the book, three kids were born but their fathers only became extra kind. Each of them started referring to their daughters or their sons in their decision making process.
7. You talked about how culture and having a purpose of living gives a meaning to life. How do you think nowadays youth can do this when social media takes 90% of their time and changes their interests frequently?
Walaa: For me, culture is about reading. People have to read. One of the positive aspects of social media is that it made people read more. There was a time when people did not read or even surf the internet. People then did not do anything rather than watch movies or listen to music. Yet, social media does not replace the culture richness as it is all based on points of views and cyber fights. It is a difficult challenge that people need to get accustomed to not only reading, but making sure of the information they receive.
8. You made a strange deal with your band that when anything happens to one of the members, the rest can should take care of him and his family. Tell us more about this decision.
Amir: Bands deteriorate because they get scared of the future. I made this oath to avoid this so each of us feels secured that we’ve got each other’s backs. Our relationship is exceptional and is rarely found nowadays. It’s the thing I’m most proud of, that I am never afraid and neither are they.
In 30 years, Amir aspires to become like the Rolling Stones, old but still preserving their characters and doing what they love.