High on Egyptian Groove

Ahmed Safi - PHOTO BY ALAIN ELHAJJ

BY ALIA MAKADY

What was the last song you heard? Was it by a superstar like Rihanna or Michael Jackson? When was the last time you went to a concert or bought the CD of a local singer or band? We Egyptians have an amazing wealth of local, youthful talents. We came to realize this during the revolution in particular. One of the most notable talents we have at AUC is our very own Safi. Not only is he a talented musician and currently a member of three incredibly unique bands, but he is also one of the biggest advocates for local music.

Ahmed Safi-El-Din, also known as Safi, came to absorb and plunge into the music world through a collaboration between people who cared about him. “It started when I was in elementary school; I had a wonderful principal, Mrs. Cheryl, who dabbled with singing as a hobby. She saw that I was talented and she tried to develop it. Both my brothers also played a huge role in developing my taste in music… It also helped that they were both musicians as well. My mother also supports me 100 percent in music, just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of my studies,” he said, describing how he started his path into the music world.

Each band Safi is a member of takes on a different approach to music. Meet the bands:

It took a group of friends jamming together for fun for ‘The Color Sound’ to be born. “We have a very crisp sound with jazzy undertones.” Youssef Salah is the drummer, Adam Awad is the guitarist, and Noor Ayman is the bassist. Unfortunately, they have only performed twice. However, they are trying to build a larger set list, in order to record an album and perform live more frequently.

‘El-Zabaleen’ is, hands down, one of the most popular bands on campus today. They started out during Earth Week in 2010. “The organizers asked a friend of mine to play on trash, and I was very eager to see him in rehearsals. I went and instantly fell in love with how creative my friend [Youssef] was in creating groovy rhythms out of trash. So I started writing lyrics on the spot, and that became our first song, ‘Throw Your Garbage Away.’”

It grew to become a seven-member band, composed of Aly Morad, Ahmed El Dahan, Youssef Salah, Noor Ayman, Naeyr Osama, Shahir Eskander, and Safi. They are hoping to expand their song repertoire, and are aiming to record their first album sometime in the near future.

The hilarious nature of the parody band ‘High on Bodyfat’ is apparent in their name. “I wrote a couple of parody songs such as ‘Bad Betengan’ [Bad Romance], ‘Hey Enta’ [Hey You], ‘Warta’ [Tick-tock] and I wanted the help of a comedian friend of mine, whom I met at the Arabs Gone Wild comedy auditions in 2009. Within the first couple of minutes of sitting down together, we wrote ‘Addak ‘al BBM’ [I wanna hold your hand], and I knew that we’d make more songs together.”

Currently, the band composed of Safi and AUC alumnus Marwan Imam, is moving away from parodies and focusing on originals; and there’s no reason why they cannot make it, given the huge success of their first original ‘El-eshq, El-eshq, El-eshq’. Safi commented on all three of his bands wanting to release albums in the near future: “There goes all of my savings!”

“Music provides a snapshot of a certain period of time,” Safi reminds those of us who forget the significance of songs and art on major events, especially political events.

Safi recalls that phenomenon saying, “Look at the 1952 revolution, or the songs coming out of America during Vietnam War; they all had messages behind them. A lot of people think that you can’t change the system with a song, and it’s the actual physical activism, being there in Tahrir Square, that will make the change. I agree with that statement, but what happens when the people lose faith in the cause? They need a reminder. They need something that will spur them on; this is where music comes in.”

“Nothing will ever feel better than falling in love with a song written by a fellow Egyptian; it’s that sense of familiarity that warms up our heart to it even more. So please, support local talent,” Safi concluded. Mark your calendars! On March 13, High on Bodyfat will be performing at Cairo Jazz Club.