Before the term “Arab Spring” was coined, French producer Jérôme Ettinger was busy preserving and spreading the sound of Egyptian music to a global audience. He decided to combine traditional Egyptian instruments with a diverse array of electronic rhythms. Ettinger brought together world-class musicians to form Egyptian Project.
“My idea was to mix electronic, acoustic and Egyptian traditional music. I chose one stringed instrument player, one singer, a percussionist and rababa player. They are all my family now – I manage and organize everything for all of them.” – Jérôme Ettinger
Ettinger, a native of Nantes, traveled to Cairo to study the arghul, a clarinet-like double-pipe, single-reed woodwind instrument with an ancient musical history. He mentored with one of the best teachers, Mostafa Abdel Aziz, who performed on the famous Egyptian orchestral recording of Mozart’s work and also worked with Peter Gabriel. As his knowledge of Egyptian culture matured, Ettinger put together a group of renowned artists to tour with. Percussionist Ragab Sadek, rababa player/violinist Salama Metwally, oud player Ihad Radwan and singer Sayed Eman joined Ettinger on his quest to spread the terrific melodies of Egyptian music around the world.
“Each one of these musicians has learned to adapt to the music of the others. It’s not just copy and paste, it’s an intensive, collaborative work that’s on for the long run. In order to find a solid base, it was necessary to establish a relationship based on trust. And now that the trust is there, we can truly feel the sincerity and pleasure being taken on stage.” – Jérôme Ettinger
The group got together at Studio du Faune in Montauban-de-Bretagne, France to record Ya Amar on Six Degrees Records. They worked with sound engineers Jean Paul Romann (Tinariwen, Lo’Jo) and Rodolphe Gervais (Desert Rebel, Ray Charles) to capture their exciting mix of classical performance and digital music. This unique blend shines on “Ya Amar,” a song which discusses how the entire world sees the same moon at night, a fitting tribute to a nation full of diversity in a time of transition.
Sayed Emam’s voice shines all over the record, especially on “Ya Sahbi,” which expertly matches his fine vocals with electric guitar, violin and drum kit. It’s a treat to hear traditional and contemporary approaches come together organically like they do on Ya Amar. Check out a teaser trailer for Ya Amar and preview the album on soundcloud. Watch the video for “Besharis” below.