In a short period of time, her name became widely known. We can remember her best from Silent Echo’s Guitar Festival and also Redeemer’s Opening act. She is considered to be the only female solo guitarist in Egypt.”

Maybe there aren’t many words that I could describe Ally Salem with, but you can get to know more about her by reading this very interesting interview, which I enjoyed myself…

How and when did you start playing with the guitar?
Ally: Ever since I was 8, I used to be in the school’s 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 you did first touch a guitar?
Ally: Classical Guitar at the age of 8, Electric Guitar at the age of 13.

Why do you think you liked guitar more? Not bass, not drums for example?
Ally: I am more of a melodic person, I love listening and playing melodies accompanied with harmonies. Guitar is very sentimental equipment and it just fits my character right.

Who encouraged you?
Ally: 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, were they totally with your decision playing guitar among guys on stage?
Ally: 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.

What about your influences?
Ally: I am pretty much influenced by Gary Moore mainly. I considered him the extreme turnover in my musical path. Once I started playing his music, something changed in how I see the neck, and how my fingers feel the strings. Let’s get a little bit heavier because I am an 80’s heavy metal maniac, George Lynch is my other idol, John Norum(Europe), Vinnie Moore and the two amazing female guitarists Jennifer Batten and Jan Kuehnemund.
As an Egyptian female guitarist, have you been into awkward situations? If so, Tell us about them.
Ally: I remember well, a look on everybody’s face that says” She won’t be able to play the solo properly”. I recall comments from people around me saying that I can’t possibly be playing well, and even when I have a sample of my music or playing on my iPod they accuse me of not being the one playing in the track. Something that really bothers me is that GUYS can’t admit that females can play music.
Their most favorite comment is “too good for a girl”, well NOT REALLY, guitars do not differentiate between males and females. Player leads, guitar follows, that is my rule! Good music knows no gender.

“Good Music Knows No Gender” Hope everyone can remember that!
Tell us Ally, about the problems you faced.
Ally: Thank GOD, I haven’t faced major problems, but at first it took me quite a while to get my first electric, as my communication with fellow musicians was limited when I was young, I didn’t know where to go, or which guitar to buy. After I’ve solved this, I realized that the amount of money I saved, wasn’t enough to get me a proper Electric guitar, that is when I realized that throughout the
Journey of music, you will be paying a lot, but music always pays you back.
And now I am pretty much satisfied now about my Guitar, this babe can rock!

Speaking about that what, what is your guitar brand? What do you usually use?
Ally: Jackson Dinky Dk2m proffesional series. And my multy effect is Boss Gt-8. I am usually comfortable with Maple Necks and Seymour Duncan Pickups

How do you define your sound?
Ally: My rhythms which you will hear in my solo album soon are defined by being heavy & aggressive, mixed with clean tunes, shreds and melodic solos.

Well, tell us more about your solo album.
Ally: I already have some compositions, instrumentals and with vocals. I will sing it, as I already sing; I believe no one would be able to sing my lyrics as I do… I will develop it, get it recorded and soon enough you’ll be able to hear it.

Which concert do you think introduced you to people?
Ally: Classics band at Korba Festival May 2008, Silent Echo’s Guitar Festival November 2009, and the greatest was Opening for Redeemers this year, January 2010.

Who are your favorite guitarists, worldwide and locally?
Ally: Gary Moore, George Lynch, Vinnie Moore, & Satriani internationally. As for local guitarist, I heard a couple of tracks for a guitarist called Mohammed Adel of Screwdriver, they amazed me!!
Tarek Reda of Offbeat’s music is pretty good as well.

Who do you refer your success to?
Ally: My Dad (RIP) as I have taken after his methods of knowing how to get what I want.

What are you aiming for?
Ally: I am aiming to change the image of Female guitar players in Egypt, hopefully internationally! Other than that, I am aiming to see an amazement look on the audience’s faces after my album release, hearing them singing along with my lyrics and solos.

Sweet! I am so looking forward this Ally..
Have you recorded anything like instrumental tracks?
Ally: I did, in my early stages with guitar; I didn’t have a recording program at home, with the help of one of the people that really helped my musical career “Hameed Sabry” Wyvern’s bassist. 5 years ago, he enabled me to record my first instrumental track; he enabled me to record my first instrumental track at his studio. I reckon it was the first music I ever make on guitar, after that I managed to get a recording program at home, and I have many recorded Instrumentals, some are complete, some aren’t.

There must be an experience that changed your musical life or the way you think of music, what is it?
Ally: I believe I have mentioned something like this above, “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 preformed with Redeemers as a guest in the opening act, who else do you wanna perform with?
Ally: It was great honor performing with Redeemers… What I really wanna do next is joining music festivals, likes of the S.O.S and Nokia Express Music Festival, where many great artists and musicians share one stage, different tastes and blends. This would be awesome, so I just don’t look at it as wanting to perform with band, except if it was Metallica or Dokken for instance!

Tell us about your experiment as joining Silent Echo’s guitar festival.
Ally: It was a pretty awesome experience, since I played along with Egypt’s finest musicians, and I’ve got a great feedback from the audience. It was very successful!
You said earlier that you liked guitar from your sister, she didn’t take your same path, did she?
Ally: 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, she doesn’t play live much, I am not sure what she’s planning to do, she is still with the Classics band as far as I know.

In all of your concerts you always had played solos of different tracks which I can’t say anything about them. They are marvelous. But why you never play riffs or rhythms lines?
Ally: Who said I don’t? I am a guitarist, not just a soloist… I believe you haven’t quite seen me well with the Classics Band… I played both rhythm, jumping into the solos, I performed in the Hard Rock night by The Classics’ band one of my favorite songs that has great rhythm which is “In The Still Of The Night by Whitesnake”. With Redeemers and Silent Echo, I was asked to show my skills through soloing that is why you probably think I’m not into rhythms, although I love them!

Each one of us has a dream inside us of a band, what is the description of yours?
Ally: 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.

What is your favorite musical theme?
Ally: 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 solos…and I really love blues and groovy rhythms and solos. If we’re talking themes as in Lyrics, so I always find myself indulged in lyrics related to freedom, war, anger, loveloss and betrayal.

What do you think of the Egyptian Metal Scene?
Ally: 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 & 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.

What do you think of the music scene’s future in Egypt?
Ally: There are certain things that must be changed in order to assume a bright future for music in Egypt. First Concert halls and Studios should be provided with better equipments. Second there should be more than one option for one to share his talents other than Sakkia. Last but not least, Music stores, they should be able to get better quality musical equipments. I’d expect an amazing future if any of the above factors changed, if not I assume it would stay the same!
Nowadays, the music scene in Egypt is more open, do you think it may fall again like it did in the 90s?
Ally: As I stated, there is a good awareness of the metal community nowadays, Idon’t think it would fall unless if any of the new generations of metal heads commit any unneeded acts. I didn’t like the interview on Dream TV a couple of days ago, where they were interviewing a metalhead who had a cigarette in his mouth, this is not a PROPER attitude to go LIVE with on national TV, so I hope such people would stop ruining the real essence of metal as a distinguished and respected category of music.
Tell us about the differences you have noticed in The Metal Concerts 2003 and 2004, and The Metal Concerts in 2009.
Ally: A lot of differences I’d say! I remember attending my first concert back at 2002 or 2003, I was almost the only girl in the whole concert. Metal concerts back then were treated as an outcast, organizers had to choose some really hard places in order to make a metal gig or concert. It was very connected to Satanism, unlike now, I see many girls out there, I see girls on stage as well, singing or playing. Nowadays there is a complete awareness and respect for metal concerts.
Finally, Ally, what would you like to say to young musicians generally and young female musicians specifically?
Ally: Younger musicians, I’d love to tell them always start out slow. Put in mind, that every guitarist have been into that frustration phase you might be in.. so don’t give up… Females, I’ve came up with this theory “First Results Theory”, which females incorrectly follow by taking first results, accepting it which leads to either failure, or sucking at what they do! So girls, please have some patience, give yourself a chance to GET BETTER… don’t either GIVE UP or decide you’re a rock star for playing a couple of power chords!

If you would tell someone anything right now. Who would it be and what would you say?
Ally: I’d love to tell NJ, thanks a lot for her effort in that interview… And Monk as well

Thanks Ally for such a wonderful interview!

Interviewed by: NJ and Monk