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INTERVIEW: Islam Chipsy
Yousif Nur , July 14th, 2016 12:19

We catch up with Islam Chipsy ahead of his appearance in London this week

With EEK featuring Islam Chipsy lined up to play this coming weekend at the Walthamstow Garden Party, we managed to get a few words from him on the phone to get his take on playing in the UK and Europe, the current state and future of Electro Shaabi, plus a sneaky peek into what’s in store with album number two

Chipsy in the last week has also uploaded a new track featuring Shaabi producer Amr Haha called 'The Bullet', which features plenty of Islam's signature rapid-fire keyboard bashing merged with traditional Egyptian standards. You can check that out below and find out more information on this weekend's show here.

Are you looking forward to playing in London this weekend? Does playing with other ‘world artists’ at this festival excite you?

Islam Chipsy: Absolutely. Even though it’s not the first time I’ve played in London, I’m very honoured to have this opportunity to play this new sound to a different culture among other artists from around the world as well as representing Egypt. England is a very important country in terms of its musical culture and it’s also important for me to play this kind of festival.

Every time I watch you perform, the live sound always differs. Is that something you work on all the time?

IC: Yes of course. It’s the intensity that drives me and every country I play at has its own mood I’ve noticed. When I arrive at a venue or a party, you scope the mood and the vibe, so you’re able to see how you can improvise. Whatever happens when I’m on stage performing, I try to capture the flow and mood of the crowd, almost as feedback.

How happy are you that Kahraba was a critically acclaimed success in the West?

IC: Generally speaking, I’m very happy with the way the album was well received, especially in Europe. But I wasn’t quite 100% happy with the final mix mastered down, that the label decided to put out, in terms of the overall character of Kahraba itself as it sounded a little over-compressed. Besides that, I’m happy with the album, as well as the promo online via clips uploaded onto YouTube that helped to spread the word.

Are there any particular places you like playing in Europe?

IC: Bristol and Marseille are my favourite places to play. I love playing to different audiences, but when I’m on tour, I make a point to play these two cities in particular. But in general, playing in Europe is always exciting because it’s a different challenge and environment. But Bristol and Marseille are cities with very welcoming vibes of which I’m really attracted to.

What is the musical environment like in Egypt at the moment

IC: The music scenes in Egypt are veering towards Shaabi music I feel, even styles, which may be seen as old or retro are playing shaabi tunes. In contrast, people who are perceived as being Chaabi artists are recording instrumental tracks. But I would say that the establishment is getting around to the idea of it being seen as accessible music; therefore it’s becoming more accepted. That was something that wasn’t the case a couple of years ago.

What direction do you want to go with your music next?

IC: I have some ideas in mind for my next album that we’re working on right now actually. There’ll be lots of variation in the beats and the grooves as well. I also want to get new ideas from lots of different producers that I work with. Yes, we’ll stick with the same band setup but we’ll also integrate new sounds to keep things fresh. We’ll always stay instrumental and Shaabi, but most importantly in a style that’s Chipsy that you’ll hear very soon.