Every spring, Austin, Texas hosts some of the greatest minds and talents from independent film, music and technology at SXSW . Essentially, it’s like the Olympics of indie art, and this year Egypt has a couple of representatives flying our flag.
But this flag is tattered, graffiti-ed and the eagle’s got his middle finger up. If you ask any electronic musician on the scene (and we’ve asked a lot of them) who they admire the most here, you’ll normally get the same answer: “Zuli! Zuli’s genius.” Add to that the ethereal sound of audacious front woman Bosaina II and you have Quit Together, one of, if not the most, innovative and engaging duos to come out of the Cairo milieu in a long time. They were recognised on the international scene almost immediately after getting together, being offered a gig at the SXSW showcase. This is a pretty big deal so we caught up with them to chat about Girls Aloud, visas and being trill…
How did the SXSW gig come about?
Bosaina: We got invited based on four really raw demo tracks. Part of the selection process is based on bands having hype, releases, heavy touring schedules and fans. When we got our invitation, we literally had just those four tracks and nothing else. That’s like the biggest compliment. The SXSW committee is dope. They clearly know their shit, and till this point, they’re the only ones who’ve heard our songs so it’s kind of funny that we’re playing this massive festival and nobody’s knows us… yet.
ZULI: El7amdollah rabbena karamna, w wafa2na, w katablena enn e7na nel3ab el mazzika bta3etna f mahragaan Saws West aw 7aga zayy keda. W insha2allah hansharraf masr w nerfa3 ras-ha w nerfa3 ras koll el 3arab wel afarca, w rabbena ywaffa2.
Tell us about your frustrations in dealing with visa issues when local bands like you get the chance to perform abroad and what you think can be done to resolve this.
ZULI: We were touring Switzerland last month and I almost didn’t make it in time because my visa took so long to process. I arrived in Geneva literally 5 hours before the first show. I also still haven’t got my US visa yet and my flight is in a week… And I know it’s because I’m a dirty Arab so no, I don’t think anything could be done to resolve this.
Bosaina: It’s a mind-fuck. I could start a support group. KIK (our collective of bands) lost a bunch of gigs to immigration pains and honestly there is no resolve. Immigration makes the process from the promoters side so taxing, filing petitions for you and shit that you really gotta be worth it for them to make the effort. Then there’s the financial investment from both sides and having to make sure you’re eligible based on some ancient rubric of requirements. The only thing you can do is learn their legal manuals back-to-front, arm yourself with loopholes and clauses like a terminator and keep trying till they issue you those damn visas.
How would you describe your sound, other than ‘transcendent hiptronica’, as your Facebook page eloquently puts it? Would you compare Quit Together to anyone out there now?
ZULI: Probably Girls Aloud.
Bosaina: Naa. QT is prime, grade-A, nxt lvl shit. Kolokolokolo kol 7aga. And if you don’t know, now you know, nigga.
You’re well known for wearing some elaborate stage outfits. Can you give us a hint at what you’ve got planned for SXSW?
ZULI: Nothing too flashy; I want people to be able to focus on the music so I’ve decided to tone it down a bit for this one.
Bosaina: I’m fine doing QT in my pajamas. QT doesn’t need the theatrics. QT is the future.
This years SXSW line up is one of the biggest in recent history, with some of the most critically acclaimed artists from across the world performing. Which gig are you most looking forward to going to yourself?
ZULI: Definitely Girls Aloud.
Bosaina: I’m more interested in the A&R mentoring sessions and industry panels than the live performances; kicking back with Clive Davis and being like “Hey Clive, what you think of this nxt lvl shit? Do you like my harmonix Clive? Do you like ZULI’s betz?”
Do you see your being booked at such a huge festival as marking the beginning of a new breed of Egyptian musicians who create alternative music as opposed to Deep House, Khabt House or Deep Khabt?
ZULI: I’d be thrilled if more Egyptians made Deep Khabt, or any type of music, really, instead of playing other people’s Deep Khabt and acting like they’ve accomplished something genius. Some DJs are really good at what they do, but I can only give you so much credit for deciding to play a bunch of songs in a certain order. DJing is cool, but don’t expect me to call you an artist until you actually create something. Ya3ny, I’d like to see less DJs and more musicians.
Bosaina: KIK got together because we were all tired of being a one-band scene. Everyone in the crew is doing their own OG thing, no one’s keeping tabs on trends, a lot of the inspiration recently has been internal…KIK’s fresh as fuck. I think that’s the way forward with anyone serious about changing the scene. It’s not so much about genre as it is about linking up and bouncing ideas. But I also think people need to focus on what they want to see rather than what they don’t like. There’s no point in being alternative for the sake of being alternative… naah. If Deep ‘anything’ is true to them, then that’s where they should be hustlin’.
Anything else you’d like to add?
ZULI: Hussein El Sherbini is the trillest motherfukka alive.
Bosaina: Shout out to our trill KIK fam, Nader, $$$Tag$$$, Ismael, and Mr.Hussein, our management NXT LVL MGMT and our creative legs Discord Magazine, Awesome Magazine & Events, Blow! Creative Agency, The Fashion Studio, & Epic 101 Studios. #Gizawave #Sphinxcore. It’s a KIK takeover ni99as. Also, Quit Together’s been in bootcamp for a month now leading up to SXSW, and part of the process was taking Mr.Hussein’s production/mixing/engineering course. It’s literally taken the QT sound to the next level. I picked up production in like 4 weeks, and I’ve been mixing with ZULI since, so yeah, the course is all that and MO’! Big up to the trillest ni99a alive, Mr.Se7s!
If you’re in the US, understood these answers and like what you hear, check out QT perform on the 16th March at Speakeasy Kabaret, Austin, Texas from 8:00PM. Keep up-to-date with everything Quit Together is up to on their Facebook page here.