مش سعيد ليه؟- why are you not happy?
„I think something is happening. I mean I never used to hear of that many artists and bands before, so yes, it’s definitely growing. I’m just a bit concerned that some things are starting to sound the same. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it makes me want to step back rather than blend in, at least until I determine my stance regarding sound.“ – Aya Metwalli
Being a part of the growing music scene in Cairo, 26 year old Aya Metwalli started doing music before 2011. When talking about music, she sees not herself as a musician because she respects that science and in her own words „don’t have the knowledge to consider herself a real musician“. Nevertheless her music is unique and special in the way that she combines genres and sounds to different sounds from other Cairene musicians. She acknowledges in an interview with Cairo Scene that there is an emerging music scene in Cairo or in Egypt in general but is afraid that it is becoming to homogene and that is why she wants to sound different and wants to differentiate herself from other artists. She got in contact with music since she was a child and was influenced by music from a variety of genres („from Back Street Boys to Megadeth and everything in between.“)
Her music is difficult to explain, from folk, to electronic, trip-hop and everything in between seems to be a part of her style. Basically she uses her guitar and some other sounds to make her music unique. „what gives Metwalli’s songs an emotional resonance beyond the walls of her own sonic imagination is the way they emblemize something universal about present-day life in Cairo — a feeling of still motion that emerges in an anachronistic and lawless environment. It’s found in both her music and her city.“ writes Maha ElNabawi from Mada Masr. Some may compare her with the Beirut based musician Yasmine Hamdan although she sounds different than Hamda. Metwalli tries to experiment with a lot of various sounds and combine that with the guitar. Her lyrics are mostly her own and if she is not using her own writing, she uses the writings from blogs of her friends „and somehow turns the most non-rhythmic lyrics into melodies through classical intonations and a vibrato that later blend into more abstract and contemporary vocal chimes.“ writes Maha ElNabawi. Writing mostly in Egyptian she captures the lyrics and the context of the current issues which Egyptian society is facing during these turbulent years.
Her Soundcloud page shows an amount of 22,8K followers and it is growing everyday and her facebook page shows more than 1,000 likes. She performs at local and alternative art spaces which emerged after 2011 in Cairo which deserves an own post though. As her followers are growing every day her experiences do as well as she says: “I grew as a person, I’m expanding emotionally and it’s showing up in my music.” She collaborates with other musicians as well such as the Cairo based Living too Late but goes beyond Egypt and she collaborated with Jordanian musicians as well. Songs like مش سعيد ليه؟ (Why are you not happy?) or صباحُ الخير (Good morning) are an example of combining the guitar with her own electronic personal sounds. She performs at locations such as the Cairo Jazz Club or at Room Art Space & Cafe. She becomes a part of the new emerging music scene in Cairo and an important addition. She has currently uploaded 32 songs on Soundcloud and is frequently performing on different locations in and outside of Cairo.
Below is a performance of Aya Metwalli at Sofar Cairo on October 25th, 2014