Nazli Reda isn’t necessarily a name that will be familiar to all. As a fresher than fresh AUC graduate, this miniature Metallica-obsessed, multi-talented humanoid has turned many a head with her graduation project, 444 - a twelve-track album produced by her own fair hands that suggests a new musical force in Cairo is waiting to emerge from the depths of sameness.
We sat down with Ms Reda over a few beers by the pool – because we like to kick it in style – to talk about music, irrational fears, Lilo & Stitch and Pitbull – the distinctly untalented ‘rapper’, not the breed of dog. (We love all dogs).
Let’s start with an existential-crisis sort of question – who are you and how did you get here?
(In an absurdly fake British accent) Well, it all started when I was 14 and my father bought me my first guitar; I loved it and then I started getting into other things like drums and the ukulele, before taking on the piano when studying Music Tech at AUC.
I was initially at MSA studying Mass Com, and then I realised I was really, and specifically, interested in editing songs and music – but there was nothing available at MSA. I found myself on AUC’s website one day and found that they offered Music Tech and that was exactly what I wanted to do. So I went for it and started this whole Music Tech thing, and four years later, 444 happened.
Nazli is pretty short. Her struggle is so real.
I’m not really sure what’s happening with your accent, but lets move on. What is 444?
(Still in British accent) 444 is an acoustic album that I produced; it features four other artists and is 44 minutes long. It all started with me trying to figure out what I was going to do for my graduation project; I came across an article talking about how the best music is raw but polished, and I really liked the concept. Music for me started just with a guitar and singing, and that’s what I enjoyed the most, so I decided to go for it. I’m not a big fan of ‘electronic’ music.
We hear you. What were the biggest challenges you faced when recording and producing the album?
There’s a list as long as my arm. The biggest challenge was people not showing up on time, or not showing up at all, and not answering their phones. Some of it was totally out of our control – vocal infections, ear infections and slipped discs were just a few of the issues we faced. In the end, a whole group dropped out of the project, but Pulse (one of the bands featured) came in and it was really rushed, last minute sessions. I did over half of the project in the last month.
That’s Egypt for you. What’s the plan now that you’re an unemployed graduate?
I plan on being unemployed and chilling for the summer, before trying to convince someone to hire me. I don’t actually know if there’s a proper job for me, for what I do, so we’ll see where that goes.
If you were going to describe 444, and your music as a whole, in three words, what would they be?
Chill, acoustic, and collaborative. It makes me really happy. I wouldn’t call it a ‘happy album’ exactly, but when I listen to it, I feel really good.
So, you’ve moved from playing instruments and performing live, to producing music; can we expect a return of the live act?
Honestly, performing live was never my thing; I’m much more into the production aspect of it. I don’t really like the spotlight being on me – I like being in the background, editing and working on the technical side of things – hence a degree in Music Tech. That’s kind of why I picked drums as an instrument too; I like being in the back, behind the scenes, making stuff happen.
Here’s a question we’ve been dying to ask you since the first second we heard 444 – would you rather fight against 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
OK, I’ve actually thought about this question a lot. Definitely one horse-sized duck – I really don’t like horses at all. A giant duck is fine, I’ll deal with it, but please don’t bring any horses – regardless of their size – anywhere near me. I don’t care how small they are – what am I supposed to do? Step on them? No, thank you. Bring me the giant duck.
We think duck-sized horses would be really adorable. Tell us a secret nobody knows…
I used to rap and I was not very good at it. I regret absolutely nothing.
Outstanding. We hear you’ve made quite a name for yourself as the Arabic voice of Lilo (Lilo & Stitch) and Helga (Hey Arnold) – explain immediately, please.
Oh God. When I was ten years old, one of my parents’ friends worked for Disney and she asked me if if I was interested in doing voices for cartoons and, of course, like any self-respecting child, I said yes. A while later, I started getting calls for auditions; I actually froze and couldn’t say anything at the first audition. With time, I got better and more comfortable, and I’ve been doing voiceovers for almost 12 years now.
You actually look a little like Lilo with your ukulele. Anyway, if you could banish one musician for all eternity, who would it be?
Pitbull. No question. Pitbull really shouldn’t exist, I mean, I hate a lot of people or dislike their music, but Pitbull is just so unnecessarily everywhere. Rashe2 f kol 7eta.
By Noor Salama