Ally Salem is girl’s name that has been rapidly rising for the past few years within the Egyptian rock scene, especially with the huge act Andromida; She’s been widely known for her solo acts and now people just love to see her perform Pink Floyd’s tunes. Let’s shorten our introduction and start away with this fun interview we had with her…
So we can tell Ally has been busy the past few years with some projects. Update us.
I have been recently devoted to Andromida. We have included new songs and albums in our last concerts, and we have been brainstorming how to make the best out of our concerts with our limited options, hand in hand with the band teamwork. We’ve made decorations to the hall (Built a wall on stage), and I have been seriously dedicated to put on a show by giving a theme to the concert, by dressing up in costumes. Also marketing heavily for the event on social media and promotions. I have been also travelling a lot for business purposes, and involved in my business life. And yes, I am full time job employee!
How do you feel about them?
I can tell you, I feel great!
How does it feel being with the great band Andromida? How did you join it?
To be a part of this real authentic Egyptian band, authentic as in age, they’ve been there since almost 30 years, is a merit. An accolade I am proud of and what excites me more is their own happiness and their acknowledgment that with me is the highest stage of success the band ever reached; the last 3 concerts in Sawy Culture Wheel, the hall has reached its maximum capacity, tickets ran out and people were unable to get it- it saddened me that people were frustrated to hear the concert from outside, then eventually left- However, we are making this up to them by holding the event next on 4th of April 2014.
Few years ago you stated there was a solo album coming out, how’s it going?
To be totally, honest, with my morning business life, the crowded streets of Cairo, my dedication to Andromida, and my personal life, I hardly can continue my writing, I miss my teen life! Where I had nothing else except school and guitar!
So you got a new guitar! Tell us about it.
My beautiful 60’s vintage Stratocaster, custom shop. Got it from Barcelona, actually two years ago 2012. In love with every tone. And I am thinking of having a new member to the family, haven’t decided yet.
Let’s go and have a little look to the past: How did you start playing with the guitar? And when?
Ever since I was 8, I used to be in the school band, playing Keyboards that is when I realized I am not into Keyboards, I am totally into Guitar. I used to grab my sister’s classic guitar and try to play whatever comes in my head by ear.
When did you first touch a guitar?
Classical Guitar was at the age of 8, Electric Guitar at the age of 13.
Who encouraged you?
My family and friends; my family helped me saving money to buy my equipments. My friends were always there to encourage me spiritually and technically, I mean they really believed in me and helped me to find proper equipments, proper music shops, etc.
Considering your family, did they support your choice playing guitar among guys on stage?
They were a bit worried and against that fact in the beginning, but eventually they realized that I have the right to enjoy my talent, since we seldom find girls playing music, they were faced with no other option, and they were satisfied.
Who do you look up to when you play guitar? Your idol?
Every guitarist did teach me something; Gary Moore has the most special place in my heart, David Gilmour, and the crazy guy with techniques, George Lynch.
Which concert do you think introduced you to people?
Classics band at Korba Festival May 2008, Silent Echo’s Guitar Festival November 2009, and the greatest was Opening for Redeemers few years ago at January 2010.
Who do you refer your success to?
My Dad (RIP) as I have taken after his methods of knowing how to get what I want.
Being Egyptian, married and a guitarist; does that ever conflict with something?
Well, it feels different, and my schedule is always crazy but I am happy to introduce this to our narrow culture. I get opposition, never stopped me, and I want girls to have their dream, and grow it, and get married eventually, and not to make “Marriage” their dream. You know what I mean? *laughs*
As an aspiring female guitarist, how do you think you developed professionally in the past few years?
It was a challenge! Like seriously, I have deadlines I have to meet, short on time, work in the morning with no excuse, have to show dedication to any project I get involved in, different bands, I challenge myself, stubbornness, and practice. I spend 6 – 7 hours I see nothing but my amplifier in front, guitar in hand and laptop, cup of tea and a snack occasionally!
There must be an experience that changed your musical life or the way you think of music, what is it?
It was definitely “Covering Gary Moore’s”, this man made me realize that guitars are not about ultimate speed, where you can’t follow the player’s hand neither goddamn complicated musical theories. He simply projects his feelings through beautiful tunes, and when he gets to the peak of this portrayal, he shreds and bends like no other and then manages to chill you out again by getting back to his remarkable tunes.
You said earlier that you liked guitar from your sister, she didn’t take your same path, did she?
She does play, and she’s into Electric guitars as well. At first she was into classical, and then she abandoned it for quite a while, that is when I picked my electric guitar and made my move. After 5 years of my playing, she joined the scene and got heavily involved in electric guitars. We have different tastes and different approaches, we actually showed up together with The Classics band. However, she doesn’t play live much.
Each one of us has a dream band, what is your dream band?
My dream band is where I find very talented musicians, hopefully females, and make something remarkable. Where I walk by a car and find our album playing, or going into Hard Rock Cafe, and listen to one of my solos. I won’t be classic in my answer, saying that my dream band would be a bunch of foreigners that would take me to the US, get me a record deal and later find myself on MTV. I am more of a realistic person and I aim for dreams that are achievable.
Who do you want to share the stage with? Think wild!
I dreamed of Gary Moore but he very unfortunately passed away, now I’d say David Gilmour, free jam with him, see how our thoughts come together, specially that I am very inspired by him, play Pink Floyd together! Ah sweet dreams, and I want to go crazy on stage with George Lynch/Ritchie Blackmore! AND I’ve always wanted to Share the stage with METALLICA!
What is your favorite musical theme?
I am not sure if “theme” is the right word for it. So let me divide my answer into two: I love aggressive music, heavy riffs, hard bends and screaming solo. And I really love blues and groovy rhythms and solos. If we’re talking themes as in Lyrics, I always find myself indulged in lyrics related to freedom, war, anger, love-loss and betrayal.
Have you had any awkward moments on stage or rehearsing?
Yes! Both, actually! Music is fun and full of exploration! On stage: My mobile rang, and it was an alarm, it would never stop till I close it. So Amr from Andromida had to literally, in the mic ask the person with the ringing mobile to switch it off, I was like “It’s me!” everybody laughed, so I had to speak in the Mic “It is an alarm, to feed my birds, because sometimes I forget!” And everybody cracked up.
In the rehearsal, I played a serious chord, which made me seriously laugh out loud every time I play it, and it was specifically “Hey You by Pink Floyd”.
Favorite track to play?
Shine on you crazy diamond
What do you think of the Egyptian Metal Scene?
Metal is spreading wide nowadays among people. It’s going good with the help of Sawy’s Culture Wheel. I just hope we could fight the wrong beliefs that spread between younger metal fans which is wearing black all the time, changing their looks and obtaining reckless and aggressive attitude. This gives a really wrong image about true metalheads to the people surrounding. Metal is not by any mean related to drugs, alcohol or smoking.
As you can see, the music scene in Cairo is nourishing. How do you think it reflects the metal community? And what we do need to expand it?
Well, there is good awareness of the metal community nowadays and it’s growing very well. There are definitely more venues but still we need more. Younger bands need better publicity rather than Facebook, bigger companies should support these young talents not just commercialize famous bands. Any kind of support could help, but I think helping in the ads would be the most important and the most helpful.
What is your plan for the next year?
My personal plan is to develop myself musically; like get out of my comfort zones, read more of theory. With Andromida, I am aspiring of hosting our own concert, with a big presentable venue, sponsors hopefully and all the audience could get in easily with no space restrictions!
Give a little shout out to female musicians and artists in general?
Don’t listen to others, no one can belittle you, you have the same aspects that made Steve Vai and Richie Blackmore. Don’t think too much of how you look, make mistakes and laugh at them, play hard, don’t have that excuse in your mind that you are a girl so you are not capable of doing it. Spare the money you save for girl stuff and invest in good gear! And remember, “Good Music Knows No Gender”.
Interviewed by: NJ Bakr