Aqsa Alwasat is the brainchild of Amr Ezz and Tuqa McAwi. Both are musicians from Alexandria. They have recently released a new EP with three demo songs on their soundcloud page and this is the story behind the band’s history.
Both musicians were actively engaged in other projects before Aqsa Alwasat which translates to The Extreme Center. The name itself has a philosophy on its own. They explain that „there is neither black or white, there are millions of colors in between, neither positive nor negative, it’s the zero standing in the middle, it is mostly a state of mind, being extremely neutral, which is somehow impossible to reach.“
Amr Ezz has played music since 2004 and is a self-taught musician. He played with many bands before the idea of Aqsa Alwasat emerged. Tuqa McAwi was a former vocalist of a symphonic metal band back in 2009 and worked with other bands too. At one point Amr and Tuqa met and decided to start a project on their own. Their first single was Shorood (Wandering). It is characterized by electronic sounds and Tuqa’s haunting voice.
Since 2013 Aqsa Alwasat have performed at various locations both in Cairo and Alexandria and they have gained a loyal fanbase. On Facebook they have currently more than 7,500 likes. In 2016 they have been featured in the Best Tracks of 2016 released by Beehype.
The music is sometimes melancholy, often layered with electronic and piano sounds. They are complex and multi-layered. The background of Tuqa’s work with metal bands are sometimes felt throughout their songs. They are both writing the songs together. While Amr was usually more in charge of writing the music, Tuqa is handling the lyrics. But most of the time they write the music together which is a result of brainstorming and the flow of ideas that emerge from it. They say that,
„We don’t follow these roles strictly though, it’s just like how we would express ourselves and communicate through music and lyrics, we don’t force it, it just happens.“
They have performed in Alexandria at locations such as the Library of Alexandria and in Cairo at venues such as Cairo Jazz Club.
For four years now they have performed at many locations and their live performances are always entertaining. They have been playing together at concerts with bands such as Finrod and Malika Zarra. Concerning the scene in which they are to be placed, they describe the current developments as “very energetic, anyone who can play good music has a really good chance of proving themselves, since people are now more interested in the hidden gems instead of the things you can easily get your hands on; before it was hard for a lot of talents to have their voices reach the people but now it’s way much easier and the people are more understanding and open to lots of different subjects.“
Aqsa Alwasat clearly establish their own sound, they don’t get repetitive. It is hard to say which genre they would belong to because their songs vary a lot, but sometimes they have a very trip-hop electronic and jazzy sound to it. In their own words the music that they are doing is
„a way of expressing how we feel, and most of the time we don’t like putting labels to our songs because one song can touch people in many different ways, so labeling them would limit the way people perceive them.“
The three songs are different and very emotional. Sometimes they are epic but minimalistic at the same time.
They will keep performing live and do what they love most, making music and engaging in different topics. They are currently working on their very first album but they are keep releasing singles on Soundcloud. Concerning the debut album they say that: „We’re using new sounds and elements, new topics, but it still has the Aqsa Alwasat spirit, we’ll see where it’ll take us, and hopefully the feed-back would be good, but we’re very excited and we have a good feeling about this one.“
Aqsa Alwasat will hopefully continue to exist for a long period. While many bands come and go, and music projects cease to exist, Aqsa Alwasat managed to stay around for four years now which is longer than some other bands have managed to stay alive. In their own words they say that: „As for Aqsa Alwasat, we’re not really your typical music band, it’s just the two of us doing our thing, without wanting to be constrained to a typical genre or image, we’re not even trying to fit in to be honest, we’ve never even tried, we’re just doing what we love and it happened that people liked it, so we kept on doing what we can do best, which is sharing our passion and experiences through music and let the people receive it however they want, hoping that they like it, because it’s not just music to us, we put our hearts and souls in it, that’s why we release lots of tracks compared to other bands, because the whole process takes lots of time and energy, but we’re always trying to do our best since now we’re bound to our listeners and fans.“