Once upon a time there was an aspiring and passionate accordionist reaching her audience through soundcloud, and teaching them what Feel-Good Music is. While transmitting her cloud 9-vibe, she still managed to reflect on whatever was going on in Egyptian alleys. From politics to love and social tribulations, Youssra El Hawary managed to grab everyone’s attention to her music.
“Jessica is actually a true story, of course it hurt when it happened but then it became a joke!”
Youssra’s band officially released their very first publicly funded album “No’oum Nasyeen” with the support of the Arab fund for art and culture. We had a chat with this bucket-full of talent to catch the behind-the lyrics stories! “My music is very personal, usually things I have seen and stories I have lived provoke me enough to sing about them,” Youssra explains. Of course we seized the opportunity and asked about “Jessica” the song that tells a story of a girl whose partner left her one month before their wedding to run away with “Jessica”. While you would expect a revenge tune that scolds Mr. EX, Jessica is quite a happy track, where Youssra prays God to bless Jessica. “It is actually a true story, of course it hurt when it happened but then it became a joke!” Youssra says.
We could not help but notice the pattern in the female models that Youssra presents in her lyrics, the character in Jessica that introduces a new prideful culture to relationships, is also present in “Mafish Amar” song and “Akbar men el Ouda” where we visualize dreamers, passionate souls, strivers, who will stop at nothing to build themselves up. “Being an Egyptian girl preconditions a lot of difficulties, most of them start at home. I was raised in a relatively understanding family, but at a certain point in my life when I wanted to quit my job and be a full-time musician there was some criticism, especially because the lifestyle of artists is quite demanding. It took some time for everything to be normal,” she tells.
“Being an Egyptian girl preconditions a lot of difficulties, most of them start at home.”
“While travelling I met a German girl that was 21 years old and had been all over the world which built her up in so many ways. My mind automatically flash-backed to an old work colleague that was 30+ and could not even go to a party she wanted because her dad would not let her” she tells.
Not only through music, but also through her actual journey, Youssra wishes to inspire whoever possesses an idea, that it is possible to achieve, even in Cairo. “Like any other rising artists in Egypt, we as a band faced lots of struggles. To book studios, host concerts, create music, it usually takes a lot of money, energy and paperwork, but we depended on the people, and they did not fail us,” Youssra tells.
“It is both hard and inspiring to live in Cairo!”
While she has always been vocal about societal pressures in Egypt, the love Youssra has for this country is vibrant in all of her tracks. “It is both hard and inspiring to live in Cairo! I don’t like writing purposeless happy songs because it is not like we can just ignore our issues and pretend that everything is picture-perfect. We really need to go back to the issue, admit it and learn to adapt,” Youssra says.
More recommendations from the Album: Mafish Ammar, Rehet ElForaa’, Kolo Yehoon.
Feature Image: Khaled Marzouk Photography