Soopar Lox is everything the deliberately misspelled name says and more. It is impossible to categorize their music. They just make music, no matter what genre it is. Even calling their music “house” wouldn’t be accurate. Their gigs are extremely popular. And rightfully so! Who else is going to make music that can make you dance and think at the same time? Akram Sherif, Hameed Sabry and Negm El Din Shahine were at the Cairo Jazz Club early for sound check. We sat down with them before the concert. Below is our extremely musical discussion.
Your bio says that the name comes from the different genres you mashed together. Why Soopar Lox, though?
Akram: [laughs] It started out as a joke. We have a friend who says “ya lox” all the time. So we eventually decided to name our band Soopar Lox.
The underground music scene is growing. Does this make things more exciting?
Akram: I seriously think there’s a lot of good stuff going on. I’m happy it’s happening.
Hameed: It is exciting.
You chose a popular genre, dance music, and took it to the underground. Was it difficult to do that?
Akram: I wouldn’t say that our aim is to become underground.
Negm El Din: Yeah, I don’t think we’re underground, or that house music is mainstream. I’ve been listening to house music for 20 years or something. It’s just that recently there’s been something that resembles house that’s mainstream. That’s not house music.
Was there a moment when you thought house music fans won’t let go of the mainstream version and underground fans won’t accept house music?
Negm El Din: We don’t put much thought into that side of it. We’re just making music. We combine all the different influences we have. And somehow our music ends up coming out a certain way. What we like the most about it is that it’s completely unique.
You have a song with very political lyrics. Is it difficult to write dance music with lyrics like that?
Hameed: When we choose to make political songs, it’s because we live in this society. We’re affected by the political circumstances.
Akram: And there’s a dark side to house music. It’s like any kind of music. There’s a happy side and a dark side.
What is the process of making a song? Do you write together?
Negm El Din: That depends. Usually one of us comes up with the core of a song, and then we develop it together. Any one of us will write something and it’ll be the nucleus of a song.
Can you make a living out of art in Egypt?
Akram: I think it’s very possible. You can make a good living out of it if you’re good and work hard. Negm and I have a studio. We work with producers and composters. It’s a starting business. We’re not supporting ourselves with it at the moment, but eventually we will.
Jadal’s Mahmoud Radaideh said that no Arab independent musician will ever feel like they can’t handle the fame a la Kurt Cobain or Syd Barrett. Do you think that’s true?
Akram: We don’t have that kind of thing. It’s very rare when you hear about a band like Nirvana – a bunch of 18 year olds that became superstars overnight. The way the market is structured here makes it take a while for you to become a celebrity. Sometimes it does happen, but we don’t have that American culture. I have many celebrity friends and they pretty much lead normal lives. Yeah, sometimes they are bothered, but they’re not followed by paparazzi. You know?
Negm El Din: Yes, worst case scenario they’ll stop you for a picture.
What kind of music do you like listening to?
Akram: We listen to good music.
You always do collaborations with different vocalists. If you could choose any vocalist – dead or alive – to collaborate with, who would you pick?
Negm El Din: Bob Marley, Um Kulthum, Michael Jackson.
Hameed: Mohamed Mounir.