SaLaLem – Climbing up the Ladder

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One of the outstanding young bands on the Egyptian band scene is Salalem. Salelem, named after their habit of playing music on their college stairs during gaps, is a combo of seven exquisite musicians who created their own little niche in the scene. With often sarcastic texts voicing out social critique Salelem combine witty Arabic lyrics with a unique style of music and a funky beat.

The band is comprised of Mohamed Ali "Walkman" – Guitar, Vocals, Osama Saad El Din "Ozmo" – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Amr Sayed Gioushy "Solo" – Solo Guitar, Mohammed Jamal "Jimy" – Lead Vocal, Ezz Shahwan "El General" – Bass & Lead Guitars, Samir Mansour – Piano & Keys and Sherif Nabil – Drums.

When they first began, Salalem were more mainstream with cute love songs and the like labeled “Modern Egyptian Music” like many of new coming bands. Shortly after they found their identity and trademarked a certain eclectic style of their own. This fusion took audiences by storm “People in Egypt if you don’t spoon feed them they never come”, Mohamed Gamal “Jimmy”, Lead Vocal tells us, “we thought that we must create a new image for ourselves as love is a topic that is sang about for ages and we needed something new” he adds.

“You can call it funk” Jimmy says. Half of the band is influenced by rock and others are influenced by gypsy music as the various backgrounds they came from helped in creating the diversity of the band. Their target isn’t just young people but their songs also appeal to different ages. “Success is to reach a great number of audience and play in front of a diverse crowd”, Jimmy states.

Their cover songs are different than the originals. They take the covers and play it through their own point of view. “Shoft El Helewa”, “Zouroni Kol Sana Mara” are some of their favorites whereas they always seek songs that other bands didn’t cover.

Mohamed Ali mainly writes the lyrics as they must reflect their point of view in a witty way like “Shoft El Helewa” conveys the message of stopping sexual harassment while song “Sonya”, talks about favoritism in Egypt. When they sit in a café and overhear the different stories of people, they start their brainstorming process. Two songs were written by Mohamed Fayez, a well known poet who writes for famous solo artists and they sometimes bring other people to write to renew their thoughts.

The music market in Egypt is different today as we have lots of young solo artists as well as bands. “Salalem as well other bands must go parallel to solo artists rather than competing with them”,, Jimmy tells us “Solo artists are seen on billboards and heard on the radio full time. Producers must learn how to finance young bands, when they produce bands, there is another strategy”, he adds, “a lot of people watch TV and if there is a video clip it will make a great difference for upcoming bands”. Cafés put music channels on fulltime so people watch and know, I’m not against mainstream, but I want the same propaganda for bands like us”, Jimmy proclaims that supporting new bands will make a total difference in the Egyptian music industry.


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