By giving birth to Wust El Balad band, Hany Adel has been considered as a true game changer and a visionary above-board, who started a constantly thriving underground music scene in Egypt which has been growing each and every day for the past decade. Fans fell in love with Wust El Balad which made the band rise gradually to add new taste to music in Egypt. Through the upcoming years, we will see the other side of Hany; which is a blooming cinematic potential that stands above the commercial rabbit hole everyone is digging into.
In a basement studio, with red walls and posters of various bands glued to the ceilings, I interviewed Hany Adel, “That’s the very own studio of Wust El Balad. It was established a few years ago. Some rising bands come to record their music in our studio, we’ve been there, we know how it is hard for new talents to find a place to record and rehearse. When we started out, we used to rehearse in public gardens and coffee houses, so we decided to give a helping hand to bands and offer very reasonable prices too”, Hany tells us.
After Wust El Balad’s rocking success, the band scene in Egypt has been getting stretched each day, and about that, Hany has a lot to say “in general, I respect anyone with an idea, but there are lots of bands who are formed as a result of finding a member who sings, a member who plays the guitar and a member who knows how to play drums, and yes that’s how to form a band, but there should be an identity, not depending on a composer making the lead vocalist learn the tunes and then they feel ready to jump on stage which is too early and very wrong. You could come out of a concert and feel the music of a certain guitarist living in your ears from the quality of his music, and other times people aren’t satisfied with what they listen to and tend to seek the commercial”.
For pioneering in underground music, Hany was chosen to be part of a committee by Al Sawy Cultural Wheel, judging new underground bands in the scene “I’ve seen real fresh talents performing for this committee, it’s really amazing. I always watch new talents via Facebook and Youtube and I rarely go and watch live stuff, but this time I was impressed. Their feelings reached my senses, I felt them, and I know how they feel. There are lots of new bands in Egypt that will emerge by time; Wust El Balad won’t be there for 200 years”.
Underground music has its very own style, beats and identity, hence, bands shouldn’t lose focus on what they should provide for their audience “synchronization is a must between all the members. Lyricists should receive same respect as vocalists or else it will be called a ‘boy band’ and not ‘underground’. The lyrics we sing are written by some of our friends, we don’t get our lyrics from professionals as the people who write for us either know how we feel or either speak out for issues they want to share. We sang a song dedicated to mothers, it was written by Ayman Bahgat Ammar, that’s the only song which was written by someone who’s working in the field as a professional lyricist.”
Hany entered the film industry many years ago with a movie by Khairy Beshara called ‘Leila fel Ammar’, and the duet also joined forces in a serial called ‘Heroub Men El Gharb’. In ‘Heliopolis’, by Ahmed Abdallah, Hany was introduced to us in a very difficult role that required intensive training and charisma, and ever since Wust El Balad, Hany has never let us down “Yeah the role was hard as the character used body language rather than speaking, which is very difficult. Hany is also behind soundtracks for some blockbusters like ‘Zay El Naharda’ and upcoming movies like ‘7, 8, 9’ by Ahmed Diab and ‘Bibo Wa Besheer’ by Mariam Ouf. He also worked on some of Amr Salama’s short movies.
‘Microphone’ is the new awaited movie that bursts with a unique plot shedding light on the voice, art, culture from underground. The movie doesn’t only talk about underground music but also about underground art in general like rap performers and graffiti painters in Alexandria. Starring Khaled Abu El Naga and directed by Ahmed Abdallah, Hany joins the cast to appear in a surprising character “my character is about a guy who doesn’t stand for underground music, who will make underground musicians suffer, I won’t tell you more but you’ll be surprised, it’s totally opposite to my real character and that’s a profound challenge”.
Hany blends persistence, talent, charisma and experiene in one jar to create a recipe for success, “I will tell you something that might make me sound stupid, but I will say it anyways: I read the whole script only once before filming, and go to the director and ask him to outline the character for me. There are roles that require studying and there are other roles that require very special physical training like the one I will play in the upcoming movie by Amr Salama”.
On the International Edge:
Not only Egyptian youth risk their lives by seeking immigration, but also bands nowadays have this pleading idea of ‘going global’ and not travelling for concerts but travelling for good “Never! We never had the idea of going global and leaving Egypt for good. We want others to know that we stopped riding camels and the Nile no longer flows reaching the Pyramids. We sometimes compose remixes similar to western ones to appeal to foreign audiences, but our voice speaks about our own issues. I’m always sure that an Egyptian musician is more successful in his country. We use the ‘Oud’, ‘Tabla’, ‘Tambourine’ in our percussions which is very oriental. We went to represent Egypt in Stuttgart in front of an audience of 20000 people, and we were supposed to perform two concerts, we gave five due to the great feedback we received. We just want foreigners to perceive our style and idea of music”. “Speaking of going global, do you know how many demos Sony Music receives daily from allover the globe? Around 3,000 demos daily! They listen to bands from allover the world and they crack the CD at the 3rd track if they don’t like it. Digla for example have a good video clip but they speak about a certain class who at the end won’t understand the language they are singing. Another thing, if we decide to do Rock music similar to American Rock, then we’re really kidding ourselves. We must sing about stuff that reflects our local problems”.
On the most important: What Women Want:
“Well, a plan! People who are in love are most likely to feel that everything between them is developing in a spontaneous track, later they feel that something happened which they can’t identify, something that changed the way they feel towards each other. Life needs surprises; a couple must keep on surprising each other with new stuff, exciting stuff. Every partner must remain exciting in the eyes of the other one by having their own goals and interests in life, so as not to be dull and eat popcorn in front of the TV without sharing a word. Egyptian women tend to feel uncomfortable sharing lots of things with their husbands, fearing to be accused of lack of ethics, but we must share everything, we expose our naked bodies in front of one another, how come we don’t expose our feelings and thoughts?”
On what’s next:
Wust El Balad is known for offering the audience what the band really likes “when we created Wust El Balad, we didn’t think that one day you’ll be interviewing me in our Wust El Balad studio, we were just focused on doing something we love, and here we are now. The new album is coming soon and it’s totally Wust El Balad, meaning our very own identity is injected within the music”.
On Hany Adel’s Playlist
Favorite underground bands in the scene:
Cairokee – 2ass w laz2 – Ashra Gharby – City Band
Psychedelic Rock or Classic Rock?
Psychedelic, classic and also modern: Pink Floyd – Audioslave – Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Metallica – Nickelback
Listened to while growing up:
Damien Rice – Michael Jackson – Norah Jones – Emily Simone
Oriental Arab musicians:
Mohamed Mounir – Fairouz – Abdel Halim – Abdel Wahab – Sayed Darwish – Dafer Youssef – Kamelya Gobran – Fathy Salama