Hazem Mahani (Egypt)
HazemMahani is an experienced musician from the glorious period of the local Metal scene, but he is currently a well-skilled independent podcaster. He uses to present an interesting online Rock/Metal podcast called “I Wanna Rock”. We asked Mahani to describe the status of the music industry.
“In such times of uncertainty and total fear of the unknown, there’s nothing more soothing than going to the happy place that’ll keep you grounded and for a lot of us, there’s nothing more assuring and relieving than music. I see a lot of people seek their instruments these days, playing music out loud and what’s more beautiful, sharing it with us all through social media. Every day I watch tons of amazing videos of guitarists, drummers, bassists sharing their magic with us all via the blessing of the internet and man, it gives me a lot of strength.” he described.
Then, he continued, “We saw Alex Skolnick ‘’Testament’’ teaming up with Charlie Bennate ‘’Anthrax’’ and Ra Diaz ‘’Suicidal Tendencies’’ to cover Rush’s YYZ. We saw Baroness members jamming in total isolation and tons of live streams of past and online gigs. Regarding the Egyptian scene, it’s surprisingly flourishing. I see videos and live streams every day from people just picking their instruments and sharing their magic with us. Some bands are even releasing new stuff like Riverwood and SayedRagai’s new project Da Silverback.”
“I believe that we will get out of these dark times stronger than ever and from what I see, the metal community is taking this pretty well. Let’s all keep the positive vibes coming and seek the only thing that binds us all and heal us; MUSIC.” Mahani finalized.
Fabio Urietti (Italy)
When the talk comes around the tragic outbreak of COVID-19, Italy is mentioned as the highest nation suffering from the disease. Our Italian friends “Echo” welcomed our request to join our series, starting with the band’s frontman Fabio Urietti. “Echo” is one of the popular Doom Metal bands in the Italian Metal scene, and the band performed around whole Europe supporting the presence of the Italian Metal scene.
First off, he revealed the most musical release he listens to during the quarantine, which is “Ghosteen” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Urietti mentioned apart from one of the band’s lyrics captivated his mind currently;
“Oh the train is coming, and I’m standing there to see And it’s bringing my baby right back to me
Well, there are some things too hard to explain But my baby’s coming home now, on the 5:30 train.”
He added, “during the quarantine often sing “Carnival” by Mark Lanegan. I am obsessed with this song, I love to sing it.” He also expressed that he is diving deeper into nine Inch Nails music. Next, we asked Urietti if he is on regular contact with the band or not, he replied, “Yes. I personally did not see them for a month and a half, but we regularly contact each other by phone and several social media platforms.”
“We’re writing new material, by the time we try to figure out if there will be a chance to play live gigs this Autumn. We had to cancel a lot of them. It would be a shame to stay home as our last album was released only 6 months ago,” he continued. We liked to ask him about the idea of singing in the balcony or having a live streaming performance, “I’m a shy one. I only sing on stages. I’d rather listen to others, but there are a lot of bad performances online. Probably, I will be one of them”.
Finally, he told us his favourite live streaming performance, he answered, “I really enjoined the live-stream concerts by October Tide and Enslaved. They were so great! In addition, they performed for free!”
Omar Salem (Egypt)
Considered as one of the funniest stories we came through, the trending Riverwood keyboardist Omar Salem explained to us his experience in the quarantine. Riverwood is now one of the most listened Metal bands in Egypt. The band pushed more blood in the Alexandrian Metal scene and revived its activity among others.
We started our talk with Salem about the most albums he plays currently, “there is no specific album but we can say: Shokran’s “Supreme Truth,” and Opeth’s “Blackwater Park” beside a lot of folk and oriental stuff” he answered. While the most quotation of a song he recalls is “Look at me father as I kill, are you proud of me?” from Dimlight’s “Invoking the Hunter” also he mentioned Riverwood’s “Blood and Wine” as the most song he performs at home.
Regarding his regular contact with the band, he explained, “Of course, we are on contact, we are planning for more than you think *smiles*.” Moreover, he revealed that he is currently exploring the music of the Egyptian/German band Cairo Steps.
Next, we asked if he tried to play in his balcony, he expressed, “I post a lot of videos while playing music on my Instagram profile, but playing in my balcony? This can be a good reason for my neighbours to kill me *laughs*.” Finally, he told us about his favourite live streaming concert, “It was for Jordan Rudess, playing a whole album of Dream Theater by himself!! OMG, this guy is an alien!” he described.
Miral Nagy El-Hussieny (Egypt)
Known as “The Egyptian AleahStanbridge”, Miral Nagy El Hussieny is one of the most angelic female vocalists in the Egyptian Metal scene. She conquered the Egyptian Metalheads’ hearts through her emotional acoustic covers, comes on the top of the list of her covers “Sinking Ships.” The cover was praised by Swallow the Sun/Trees of Eternity guitarist JuhaRauvio in his interview with us 2 years ago. She is an independent artist who collaborates with other Egyptian artists. She also organized an acoustic online show during the quarantine.
“I’m more of a playlist person. I pick a genre that I think suits my mood and I pick one on Spotify or make one myself. It’s mostly acoustic songs or classical music,” she highlighted. Shortly she shared with us this quotation “The wish I whispered when it all began, did it forge a love we might never have found?” (The WolvernStorm, TheWitcher III Video Game theme). Those lines are always recalled by her mind now.
Regarding the most song she performs at home, she answered, “I mostly improvise on my piano, but if I would choose one song it will be Sarah Bareilles’ version of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” And she revealed she is working on a new cover. Then we asked her about the genre she is exploring during quarantine, “I’m always exploring music, aside from the quarantine. I am currently exploring Russian music, specifically their Rock/Metal scene.”
Then, Miral El Hussieny told us a something about the balcony acts, “I’ve always sung in my balcony before it went cool *laughs*, and I do always post videos of my home performances.” Finally, she finalized her talk with us with her favourite online concerts, “I liked Room Art Space’s live streams before they stopped,” she replied.
George Melas (Greece)
From the lands of Hera and Zeus George Melas comes. One of the oldest and most experienced Greek Metal guitarists and composers, Melas is a member of various bands like VoreasFaethon, and Aherusia. We came across Mela’s talents through his plays about re-contextualizing the myth of Prometheus and Aherusia’s album “Prometheus: Seven Principles on How to be Invisible.”
Melas started his talk with us by mentioning the most albums he is listening to during quarantine time. He mentioned many albums like Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son,” Crippled Black Phoenix’s “I, Vigilante,” Tool’s “Fear Inoculum,” and Rainbow’s “Rising.” Next, he told us a part of the most song captivated his mind currently, “I see the dark lands Unfold before me, The rain is thickening down. I see the city aflame with lights, Though all the streets Are beset with shadow.” (Crippled Black Phoenix “Hold on (So Goodbye to all of that)”.
Then, Melas told us that he is currently playing the lines of Aherusia upcoming album at home, “We are preparing our new 5thAherusia album; that will outsell the newly released “Nostos~An Answer (?)”. So pretty much I am playing this stuff,” he explained.
Also, he told us more about Aherusia’s current plans, “Well, We are communicating through the internet and cellphone every day. Everyone in our connection prepares themselves for the new album recordings and for the upcoming shows that Aherusia will take part, right after this dreadful situation with COVID-19 hiatus,” he revealed.
Next, he highlighted the most music genres he is exploring during the quarantine, “the only genre that I am exploring is Hellenic-Byzantine Traditional Music modes & rhythms of my country which will be the basis of our new album,” he said.
In fact, Melas gave us a harsh answer to our question about the balcony singing acts and live streaming acts. He initiated his answer with “Apologies for below answer!”
Then he continued, “I hate this stupid behaviour, Well I am attracted to something original, but right now, every unskilled guy, tries to enter our lives somehow with the excuse of this situation. I strongly support everything well played and imbued with originality, but the rest (which regretfully is the most) is unaccepted.” Finally, he told us that the most online show he enjoyed watching was a theatrical performance of Euripides’ “The Bacchae” directed by ArisBiniaris. And finally, he sent this message,
“I wish good health to everyone, bravery and I hope that people will start to be more self-conscious, and to rely on themselves even more. Please do not be afraid, a life under fear is not a life, for certain.”
Interviews by: Rana Atef.
Edited by: Amged Mahmoud.