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Cairo Liberation Front Set For Birthdays Gig
Christian Eede , October 15th, 2014 18:05

Dutch duo bring Electro Chaabi DJ set to the UK for the first time

We're hugely excited to announce that next week, we'll be putting on the first UK performance of the Cairo Liberation Front, the ace Dutch Electro Chaabi DJ duo. They'll be playing at London's Birthdays on October 22, with support from Polygrains and Quietus DJs - get tickets here.

Started in 2012 by Joost Heijthuijsen, one of the founders of Incubate festival, along with DJ Yannick Verhoeven, and later joined by MC Joep Schmitz, the group make it their aim to promote Electro Chaabi, "the sonic Arabic revolution", as they call it. While Heijthuijsen, who joined tQ editor John Doran on his trip to Cairo last year to find out more about the music, has now taken a back seat from performing, he says of the group: "We grew up on rap, and just as Public Enemy main man Chuck D once said that hip-hop was the CNN of black America, we thought that chaabi must be the Al Jazeera of the Arab youth. It doesn't portray the political reality of Tahrir Square, simply the reality of everyday life in working class neighbourhoods, normally inaccessible for white middle class people like us. So we thought, via music, we can maybe connect with their reality; to show that perhaps our Arab counterparts have more in common with us than we think. We also thought that we could promote this other Arab voice in the Western world.”

On stage Verhoeven and Schmitz are sometimes joined by belly dancers and other performers, and we can vouch for how good their lives shows are. Writing about their set at this year's Incubate, tQ's Sophie Coletta said: "A crank of an abandoned air raid siren signals the beginning of the chaotic set, deliberately churned out before Yannick Verhoeven's right finger stabs down onto his handheld MIDI controller and the room erupts into a set of wall-to-wall auto-tuned Electro Chaabi anthems, brought from the Egyptian underground and into Europe via various tunnelled channels of the internet. What follows is an abundance of fun: drinks are gleefully lost, arms and legs fly in every direction."

Electro Chaabi is influenced by the Arabic folk tradition of chaabi, a form of wedding festival music among a number of Arabic populations. Also referred to as Mahraganat, Arabic for 'festivals', Electro Chaabi combines American hip-hop, electronic party music and traditional Egyptian rhythms to create a frenetic, often improvised sound, with its roots very firmly placed in the Egyptian revolutionary movement of recent years. Get a taste of what to expect from CLF with their recent mix for the Astral Plane blog below: