We were all blown away by the fabulously talented Perrie El Hariri when she responded to Tameem Youness’s Salmonella with her own rendition: Shigella. And so, we had to sit down and talk to this incredible 22-year-old. Perrie is half Moroccan/Egyptian. She lived in the UK for the past four years, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Sound Engineering, Music and Performance. She worked as a Creative Producer before coming back to Egypt. Coming from an artistic family, one would think it was easy for her to tell them she wants to sing and act, yet it took some convincing. She is embarking on her artistic journey now, and we couldn’t be happier to be here for it.
Introduce yourself and tell us how you entered the music industry.
I haven’t been rapping for long. I have been singing, though, for almost a decade now. I started writing rhymes and freestyling less than a year ago. It took me less than a month after starting rapping to release my first track “Kendrick Says”. I remember producing/writing/mixing/mastering it in less than four hours. I did the cover art, then released it the next day. I caught people off guard… they didn’t know I rap. Little did I know, I’d be rapping in Arabic four months later.
What triggered you to create ‘Shigella’?
Shigella came about after watching Tameem Youness’s Salmonella. Although I am a Tameem fan, I couldn’t help but feel some frustration – which had faded after a few days. I think it took me a while to grasp that it was a character. I posted a Facebook status saying I want to respond back. A couple of days later a friend of mine contacted me saying there was a production house that’s ready to do it. In the beginning, I wasn’t too sure about it, but the more I thought about it, the more this artistic urge grew in me.
How do you see women represented in Egyptian music?
I don’t think women are being fairly represented. Women are being put on a pedestal. It is changing nowadays, but I don’t think it’s because women are owning up to who they truly are. I genuinely think it’s because labels know they would sell more with the “I’m a woman and I do what I want” stand. Women are still being used as a marketing tool either way. I want women to be themselves and be able to express what they feel.
Women are still being used as a marketing tool either way. I want women to be themselves and be able to express what they feel
Since you received your undergraduate studies from UK and spent some good time in a western environment, how do you see music being treated differently across the two different cultures?
The UK is a huge hub for international music: I got introduced to Afro music, Bashment/Dancehall, Soca, Grime and UK Hip-Hop. I feel like my best musical discoveries were made in the UK. I truly don’t know why Egypt is stuck with what’s ‘conventional’ when it has incredible music. When new music is introduced, such as Mahraganat and Tra-Shaabi (Trap and Shaabi mix), they go out of their way and do anything they can to ban it.
When new music is introduced, such as Mahraganat and Tra-Shaabi (Trap and Shaabi mix), they go out of their way and do anything they can to ban it.
With new music genres being introduced, how offensive do you think their lyrics are when they tackle women?
Yes, some songs out there are offensive to women, but I genuinely think it’s a result of their environment. Either this or they just want to joke around. Either way, I don’t think anything should be banned. You can stop listening to such songs, or to leave a bigger impact, fight art with art.
Now that anyone can create their own music and post it online and go viral, do you see this as an advantage or not?
Coming from an artist’s point of view, it’s not as easy as you make it sound. Internet, streaming platforms and third distributions parties have made it easier for us to upload our music out to the world, but it’s always uncertain whether the song will blow. When a song is a hit, it’s not always because it’s good. It’s the audience who judge if the song deserves to hit the charts or not. It’s unfair sometimes, especially if you’ve worked hard on your art, but no one said music is a fair game.
When a song is a hit, it’s not always because it’s good
If you had the ability to change one thing in the Egyptian music industry, what would it be?
More women breaking boundaries, more diverse music, more young people setting records, and less industry people fighting other people’s success.