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An interview with Ehab Sami

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In the past few months, emerged an artist that was quietly working on something. He began as a guitarist in 2006 with an old band that everyone knows, called Karma. Before the band disbanded for good, Ehab Sami had his on own YouTube channel to put some guitar covers, three videos after, the videos stopped. However, in less than a year Ehab rose again from the ashes to bring some creativity to the Egyptian music scene. A few weeks ago, he covered ‘As Loke Falls’ by Amon Amarth and everyone went crazy. Today, we gathered with him to know more about how he started and his recent videos…

You started with Karma around 2006/2007. Were they your first band? Give us a little throwback story when you started with them.

Yes, they were my first band. I got my electric guitar in 2006 during college, and I felt in love with it, like I found a treasure and had to direct all my senses to it. I got too busy practicing it and the idea of joining a band never crossed my mind. I met Mahmoud Barakat – Karma’s drummer – at university, we both studied pharmacy, he surprisingly thought what was I waiting for, and then he asked me to join Karma. That’s when I met RagiAkram, Karim Mounir and Mohamed El-haggan. After our first jam, I thought that was easy, and wanted to jump right back on for more practice. That was when I realized how important it was and a great step to join them.

 

You escalated now to be playing more than one instrument! Tell us the story behind each one?How did you choose each?

Well, my first instrument was actually keyboards when I was 5 – you know that small 1 octave piano -My big brother Dr.Ahmed was the first to notice that I can play by ear that song the car makes on reverse. My family then realized that there is a talent in the house that needs attention; they got me a bigger keyboard when I was 7 and an even bigger one when I was 10.

 

In 2002, I decided that I wanted to play guitar, it looked much cooler to me. That was when I bought my first Spanish guitar and started to implement what I learnt from keyboard onguitar, it was really hard at the beginning, as I only depended on myself and didn’t really use the Internet well back then. One year later, I started to listen to metal and it was a turning point in my life. I fantasized about playing electric guitar for 3 years, that I even practiced metal riffs on my Spanish guitar; I was so overwhelmed with it that I stopped playing keyboard.

 

After a long journey with Karma, that included live performances, contests, recording, and a lot of head banging, I moved to Saudi Arabia for work, where there’s way less metal, and more oriental songs. I decided to give other genres a chance to listen. I remembered then that I still have the oriental touch back from the keyboard days, and I wanted to wake that part of me again, but I didn’t think I could do that with guitar.

 

Then one day I thought, since music is my biggest passion and I already have good knowledge of it: What is keeping me from expanding my musical instruments? The usual answer was time and money. Regarding time, do I have deadline? Well, no. The other aspect was financially. Then I thought… screw that! I’ll break that financial barrier I put for myself. Many artists don’t get a chance to experience and expand because of money and that’s really sad. I know I got the talent. I have a dream to follow and I’m gonna do it. Period.

Sami

I started then with the king of all feelings, the Violin. In late 2013, and made my way through instruments every few months to bring a new one, I got a Keyboard again, Oud, Bass Guitar, new Spanish Guitar, and drums, and hopefully more to go.

 

Less than a year ago you started posting videos of you playing drums, violins and more. How did you get the idea?

After some good practicing on each instrument, I eventually combined them all in the same work. I have some recording skills and the needed gear. And since I do not have much musician friends in Saudi Arabia, I decided to do everything on my own.

 

The lightening, coloring and the editing seem very professional, are you getting any help?

No, I didn’t get any help, but of course it required lots of research and asked some of my friends for their advice.

 

Ramadan Gana had a huge impact and even Mazzika TV shared it! How did that happen?

That went by pure luck! After I posted it on Facebook, it got so many shares that it became viral, and I was surprised to find the official Mazzika channel contacting me and asking my permission to share it through their official YouTube and Facebook channels. They couldn’t believe one person did it. It was one of my happiest days, I felt like a celebrity already, haha. 

Music producers became very common these days on social media, in your point of view, what makes you different?

There are a lot of music producers out there, but being a multi-instrumentalist and a producer is not very commonespecially in Egypt. Moreover, most of music producers concentrate only on 2 or 3 genres that are related to each other - which is totally perfectif you prefer that -to gain the maximum experience.


In my case, as you can see there is a great difference between my genres, from classics to oriental to black and death metal! And there are still more to come.

 

Have you taken any music production courses?

Nothing official. I started in 2009; I was in touch with the recording and mixing processes through my friend’s studios like Mostafa Negm and Ramy Al-Reedy. The most important teacher was producing my band’s album Actions in Previous Existence, as well as my songs got me a great experience to start producing for other artists as well.

 

How long does it usually to record a video? Take us through the process.

Ahhh, it’s a long process, the duration differs from a video to another but the steps are fixed:

 

First, the audio steps: After selecting the song, I start deciding what style I’m gonna perform the song with, then I practice each instrument that will take part in the video. Metal is the hardest and longest in time, especially the drum lines! After that comes the recording and mixing of the whole track.

 

Then, comes the video step: setting up the lighting and the camera. Trying A LOT of camera positions and lightening, opening up the audio session and recording LIVE again while I’m shooting to capture the exact playing.

 

Finally, video editing: I spend a lot of time trying different effects, editing and paying attention to the details. It’s the most fun part of the process because you know you have finished all the hard work, and you have all the data and all you need is some tweaking here and there.

 

So yea, it takes time. The shortest was 5 days in which I produced ‘Ramadan Gana’ video and that was because my friend Mohamed Farrag helped me with the camera work.


The video that a look was the Amon Amarth video, it took me a whole week just for the editing. 

You don’t post as often, are you planning to make your videos more frequently?

Hopefully yes! I’m a perfectionist; I like to be completely satisfied with every detail in my work, that’s why it usually takes me sometime. I’m hoping in the future to make things quicker as I’m getting better in making the whole process.

 

Are you going to let other musicians join you in your work like guitarists, singers and drummers?

Yes, sure! I like collaboration videos so it will be nice to do so.

 

If a singer or a musician asked you to be in his music and record producer would you take such an experience?

I’ve already done that many times. And that’s something I’m willing to do even more; to produce music for other artists and have music hits produced under my name

 

Since now you’re playing a lot of instruments, which is closest to your heart?

Uhmmm, that’s a hard question, but at the moment let’s say violin! It’s the most touching and expressive instrument in my humble opinion. Second is drums, I’m not gonnatalk about guitar for sure, it’s like my best friend who joins in to see me practicing all of them.

 

What’s your advice for people aiming to make their own production?

Practice a lot. Never stop learning. Dedication

 

Are you thinking of music-projects-related such as film scores?

Wow, sure! If I ever had the chance, that would be amazing.

 

Who do you look up to?

The great legend, Jason Becker. After he was diagnosed with ALS, he couldn’t move any organ except for his eyes. Then a system was invented with the help of his father that helps him communicate and even compose music through his eyes. That’s true love! What’s my excuse to slack off?

 

With your videos now spreading widely, what are you planning to do?

I’m planning to continue making videos till I get known to some extent, then I’m gonna produce my own music. I’ll keep some of the plans for the sake of surprise. Stay tuned;)

 

We can’t wait to know what he has hidden for us. We wish him best of luck in future projects.


Interviewed by: NJ Bakr and Mena Ezzat

Media

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