Shabaka started off as a playful experiment. Having played live instruments for years, Yanni Giovanos and myself (Omar Kamel) started messing around with some software releases, and some loop libraries, throwing things together, recording speech samples from Egyptian television and Egyptian radio, mixing it all together, and playing live instruments on top of it all. It was fun and we had a good time doing it.
Pretty soon, we both had a few tracks each, and decided that we both liked what the other had made and that the material, although markedly different, was somehow kin, bound by our choice of media samples, by the overall Elektro-Cairo thematics, and by our mess-around-and-try-it-out mentality. We threw things around, and if it sounded good, we kept it.
At this point, we were both approached by Mika Sabet, a local musician whose father owns one of the longest standing record labels in Egypt, a record label which had been the prime innovator within the local market, it had introduced such names as Mostafa Amar, Hakim, Mohamad Mounir, and others to the Egyptian landscape - if anybody was willing to try things out - Sonar was the label to do it.
So we put together some of our tracks on a cd, went to the Sonar office and gave it a shot. Dr. Hany Sabet, the owner decided he liked what he heard, and asked us to finish off the tracks, and make an album of it. Needless to say, we were over the moon, raced back, and worked our asses off, trying to make everything perfect. The result is Shabaka, 16 tracks that some of the local magazines considered a new innovative alternative to the Egypto-Pop that dominates the Egyptian music scene. We tried to innovate in one other regard, much to Sonar's discomfort, we didn't want our faces on the cd or tape cover - something of a tradition in Egypt - and usually considered the ultimate marketing tool in a market that remains, to a large degree, illiterate.
In any case, as so happens, time wasn't so good to Sonar. The label that had launched about 75% of the countries biggest artists was to sink into oblivion months later, and the rights to the record reverted back to us. And now, well, here you go: Shabaka - A Revolution That Might Have Been and May One Day Be Again ;)
Album descriptions on Last.fm are editable by everyone. Feel free to contribute!
All user-contributed text on this page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.