On Friday 7 April, Cairo Jazz Club’s Friday Fever welcomes two DJs of rather different standings on the nightlife landscape. One of the country’s most established DJs, Ouzo, is set to take to the stage – but also on the line-up is one Mohammad Ashmawy.
This is not the first time Ashmawy has performed at CJC – you’ll have seen him by himself and as part of trance trio, FAM. But as a producer and DJ, Ashmawy is slowly but surely making a name for himself and crafting his own sound as a solo artist to look out for.
Ahead of what is shaping up to be an excellent night of music, we stalked Ashmawy for a few days until he agreed to sit down and talk to us.
For those that don’t know you, summarise your music in five words.
Deep, melodic, groovy and upbeat with lots of bass & some tech-y elements.
Hmm. That’s definitely more than five words, but we’ll let you get away with it. How did you get into DJing?
I’ve been into music since I was 10 years old. I was at ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) five years ago and I accidentally got on stage with the DJs – it was the first time in my life to see a crowd of 5,000 people from the DJ booth. I was stunned and amazed, and decided that this is what I want to do. I’ve been producing music and DJing ever since.
Five years is a long time in the world of music. How has the DJing changed since you started?
With all the technology now, it’s much easier to get into DJing and it’s becoming more diverse and open.
That’s a good thing of course, but do you think the local electronic music scene will ever grow enough that DJing can be a fulltime job?
Yes of course! Egypt has lots of talented DJs and producers of different genres of electronic music. Some of them have already gone international. The scene in Egypt is growing year by year, there are always lots of new, different concepts and event organisers are doing a brilliant job keeping up with international standards.
True, but surely there are still challenges, right?
I think the number of venues is limited. Plus, there are lots of underrated, talented artists, but they need some sort of ‘artist management’ or agency.
What do you do when you’re not DJing?
If I’m not DJing, I’m in the studio producing music, sampling sounds, etc. I also have a full time job as a marketer at one of the telecom companies in Egypt.
A telecoms company? Sorry to hear that. Nah, just kidding. This Friday, you’re back at CJC. How has your experience been with previous gigs there?’
I’d have to say, Cairo Jazz Club is one of my favourite spots in town. All my previous gigs there have been overwhelmingly amazing. There’s always a wonderful, energetic crowd.
You’ve also performed at ‘The Jazz’ with Mohasseb and Far as part of FAM. When you’re on stage, do you prefer flying solo or rolling with the homies?
Both are different acts. I play a different genre than what I play with FAM. When playing with FAM, it feels like a family; we get a great vibe when playing together and in the studio. I get to explore more when playing solo and it’s more flexible when it comes to the music selection
That’s a very diplomatic answer. Let’s have some fun. If you were creating a dream line-up that you were headlining, who else would you have DJing?
That a tough call. I'd probably go for Hernan Cattaneo, Einmusik, David August, Guy Gerber, Joris Vorn and Olivier Giacomotto
People often say that “all house music sounds the same” – defend your honour!
If all house music sounded the same, there wouldn't be sub-genres to every genre – and sub-genres to every other sub-genre! And I wouldn't be spending three days a week in the studio trying to find music that suits my style to play in my monthly show and at my gigs. All the sub-genres have different elements and sometimes different tempos. But I think that this statement is changing by time as people are becoming more knowledgeable and aware of music.
For more information on this Friday’s gig, click here.