Believe it or not, Egyptian duo Aly Amr Fathalah (Aly) and Fadi Wassef Naguib (Fila) aka Aly & Fila go way back. So far back that they’ve actually known each other since kindergarten. After falling in love with the music of Paul van Dyk, Steve Helstrip, and Chicane they built their first small studio and started doing electronic music and DJing from 1999. Once they established themselves in Egypt, they decided to go international signing with the German record label Euphonic Records in 2002. Their first release, “Eye of Horus”, received huge airplay from the likes of Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, and many others.
But more than just being BFFs, DJs, and producers, Aly & Fila are also hosts and owners of their very own radio show and record label called, “Future Sound of Egypt” Recordings. Their label has previously signed on other DJs such as Sean Tyas, Bjorn Akesson, and Neptune project, as well as upcoming Egyptian trance DJs such as Philippe el Sisi, Mohamed Ragab, and Brave.
This is all of course on top of playing big festivals as well as club shows around the globe! How do they do it? We didn’t know either, but we had a little time with Fadi of Aly & Fila for a quick chat while we were aboard “It’s The Ship” recently.
Here’s what went down:
Hi Fadi, how is it going? We caught your set last night!
Sorry for keeping you waiting! It’s so nice to meet you. I hope you enjoyed the set because I think I was the only act who went into that kind of musical direction.
I did! So good to have a good dosage of uplifting trance. How did you plan for your set?
Well, every set..whatever it is, even if it’s at a festival, I’m never set on just one musical direction or play the same way because it’s always a different crowd and atmosphere so it all depends. Like last night, I felt like if I played more dreamy music or something more melodic, people would be like.. (mimics falling asleep). I was like, “Okay, let’s play more banging stuff cause the people look like they want something different” and I think I was the only guy on the bill who was playing the kind of sound that I was playing. So I gave them that – to the max!
How busy has your year been and how would you describe it, looking back on 2014?
Wow, this year was incredible because it has been a really, really good year. I’ve been so, so, so, busy especially with the touring and the studio work because we’ve been really very active – we’ve had 2 studio albums 2 years in a row! So we’ve been really working hard, we’ve done compilations, we’ve built our FSOE (Future Sound of Egypt) brand, and we’ve played more than 150 shows this year. And the hard work has paid off because it’s growing now, and I can see that.
Have you seen much of “It’s The Ship”? Did you have time to go check everything out on the cruise?
Yeah, at the casino (laughs)! I love the boat and I love the whole idea because for me, I’m here to have fun more than to work. It’s really a unique experience. And being able to chat with everyone you know, with fans, with the promoters from other parties, and with you guys, it’s fun because there are no barriers. There’s no like, you finish your set, bye bye, and you leave. I still get to communicate with everyone and check out the other parties so it’s a journey, it’s fun. It’s a really cool idea and I hope next year, it’d be even better!
So the dance music spectrum changed so much in the past 10 years, from house to gold rush of trance and the coming of going of the Moombahton and dubstep, and now the big room type of sound i.e. ” the drop”. Where do you think the trend is headed next?
My opinion is, there won’t be a new sound but I think it’s go towards the more underground sounds such as deep house, which is already doing really well right now. Trance also, is doing really well right now because it’s picking up again. Um, big room isn’t house music, I’m sorry (laughs). But they call it “big room house” – it’s a good sound, a lot of people like it, but I don’t play it and I don’t think much of it. I think like every sound, eventually it will have to go and something else will have to come and take its place. It won’t be a new sound, it’ll be the other underground genres coming back to the forefront, and they’ll come back altogether, not only one of them.
And what can you tell us about Aly & Fila’s future collaborations? Any interesting projects that you can tell us about?
We’re planning a lot of stuff but nothing’s confirmed just yet so I don’t wanna say anything. All I can say that there’s one with collaboration with Paul van Dyk’s that’s done and will be released in the beginning of the year. This was one of my dreams, to be honest, to collaborate with Paul van Dyk because he’s my inspiration. And next year we’re going to do a full chill out album for a change. Some new collabs too but I can’t say because it’s not confirmed but let’s just say that they’re strange in the sense that they’re unexpected ;)
Aww..nothing with Jwaydan?
Ah, I don’t know. Because the thing is like..with Jwaydan, when we did “We Control The Sunlight”, it was very big and a very big hit. But whatever that we did after that, even if we did an amazing track after that, people would always compare it with “We Control The Sunlight”. So it’ll always be on top of the pile and that’s why I thought of trying out other vocalists, you know? I love Jwaydan, she has an amazing voice, she’s a great talent. Maybe we’ll do a track next but just for the fun of it.
Okay, we’ll look forward to that “for the fun of it” track then! And what about DJ Mag? Still relevant? Or just a popularity contest?
I have to say..there are 2 sides to it. There’s one side that’s a popularity contest and not about who’s the best, and at the same time..it does matter in a way. For business, for the brand, for everything else, let’s just say that I won’t feel bad if I’m high in the DJ Mag ranks. Most of the people who aren’t happy about the DJ Mag results, I think that if you’re high in the DJ Mag ranks, chances are you won’t be unhappy about the DJ Mag results. So..like this year, I dropped 8 places but I wasn’t angry or anything. I wasn’t like, “Oh, DJ Mag sucks!”, it’s not like that. I feel like we should respect it for what it is like for example, yes, the big room genre and artistes are high on the list because it’s more popular and that’s the fact. But it is more popular and that’s it. It doesn’t make a difference for my career or my brand because I’m still growing and I’ve had my best year so..there are 2 sides to it. It helps, of course, to be on the DJ Mag but if you’re a strong brand, you’ll stay a strong brand no matter what happens, DJ Mag or not.
If you could pick your very own top 5 DJs, who would it be?
DJs? I would say Paul van Dyk because he’s my favourite act. I’ve been watching him since 5 years ago and he’s still unbelievable. John O’Callaghan. Armin van Buuren for sure because he has helped us a lot along the way. I also really like Solarstone for the music that he plays. Hmm, there’s really a lot, it’s hard to choose! But okay there you go, 4 DJs that I like :)
Alright, that’s it! Thank you so much for speaking to us, Fadi.
Thank you! This was a great interview. I loved it.
Note: In case you were wondering why we only spoke to Fadi, it’s because only he goes on tour since Aly suffered a severe ear injury while performing and was advised to avoid loud music or risk losing the hearing in that ear altogether.