After an eight year hiatus, Amir Hayek is back in the city and back behind the decks. We talk to the former Latex spinner to find out what he's got in store for Cairo's party crowd...
Before a series of clubs exploded on the scene in Cairo, way back before places like Gu Bar were even conceived, there was Latex. Back in the day (2006-ish – not a different era entirely), the spot boasted the city’s hardest partiers and most talented decknicians, among them Amir Hayek, who got the crowd hooked on his funky tunes. After an eight year hiatus, the spinner is back on the scene and taking over Gu Bar’s turntables with a weekly night of beats and brilliant times. The floating Zamalek spot has seen its fair share of wild times since it flung its doors open a few months ago – a steady stream of people ready for some nocturnal antics have flowed through its doors night after night. Now, the club has tapped Hayek to make his DJing comeback behind their decks; every Monday night starting end of May, you can expect him to bring the madness. We talk to the turntable maestro about the heyday of Cairo’s partying scene, his disappearance from DJing, and what we can expect from his new gig at Gu Bar…
How did you get into DJing to begin with?
I started when I was 12 years old actually – I was good friends with Fady Wasef from Aly & Fila and I started with doing parties for my friends, at school, at birthdays… Fady was like the godfather for me, my mentor. I got my first piece of equipment a year or two after that.
Then when I first started I used to play Trance – before even Latex I was playing in Agami. I did a few parties in Gouna as well, around 2004. Then I started producing my own music; I had some music released in Germany, US, Russia and that was in 2006. And then me and Awadi started to play together at parties, back to back, until we did the Latex opening.
So back when you used to play at Latex, what was it like and what was the crowd like back then?
To me, Latex was the best club in Egypt. And what I used to really like about it is that the people who went, went purely to have fun. We used to play music that people knew but also new music that people didn’t really know – and me and Awadi were still pretty new DJs back then – but they didn’t care, they just wanted to dance and party.
So why did you stop DJing for so long?
In 2007, I went to Dubai where I work as a management consultant so it was impossible to do both at the same time. But I never stopped making my own music; I still have my Sound Cloud and Facebook pages; but now that I’m back in Egypt I’m starting to get back into playing at places.
What kind of music did you play at the time versus the kind of music that you’re playing now, or is it the same?
Back then it was mainly Funky House, Progressive House. For me my concept in DJing and music is that I like all kinds of different styles. I don’t restrict myself – if it’s a nice song, if it’s a nice track, I’ll play it. I started with Trance, at Latex I used to play Funky House and now I play more Deep House, but really, it depends on the crowd, it depends on the night.
How do you think the partying scene has changed over the past ten years or so?
I think it’s gotten much more creative now, there’s more competition; there are more DJs and more clubs. So as a DJ or as a club you need to offer something new to differentiate yourself. But overall, I think the clubbing scene is booming in Egypt when I compare it to 2006 or 2007
You mentioned that there are so many more DJs on the scene now; what do you think of the fact that virtually every other person is now a DJ?
You cannot restrict it. But they have to do it for the right reasons; because they really like it and are passionate about it and not just because it’s the trend now to be a DJ or to be popular. But I think it’s good for the industry and at the end of the day, the crowd will choose what they like.
Why did you decide to play exclusively at Gu Bar in particular?
In Cairo, Gu Bar is one of the best places from my point of view. I like the setting, the fact that there’s a good selection of people; a nice mix of different generations. The vibe itself of the place is happy! I felt like my music could be a good match for this place. I love music and I want to share that with the crowd and the people. That’s my main motivation. We’ll see how it goes!
What DJs, locally and internationally, do you personally listen to?
In terms of Trance, Aly & Fila are my favourite. With House, I’ve always liked the music Awadi plays. But I’ve also been away for eight years so there are SO many new local DJs that I haven’t listened to yet. Internationally Roger Sanchez and Noir are great.
What is the appeal of DJing to you?
DJing is great I love it, just the people reacting to the music. It’s not just about the selection, it’s also about the sequence, so when do you play which song after which song, and you see the people reacting to you. Eventually, my plan is actually to start getting back to production, I’m setting up my studio now. When you produce your music and you play it to the crowd, it’s a totally different feeling. The satisfaction when people like my music or are interacting with my music, that’s the best feeling.
Do you have a go-to track that you play that you know the crowd will go crazy for?
It depends really on the crowd and the place. I’m also a believer that some tracks are like eternal, like some tracks that I used to play in 2005 I think I’ll still play them. It doesn’t mean that I’ll be playing all old song, it’s just that some tracks are classics.
You can check out Hayek’s Soundcloud here or follow him on Instagram @amirhayek.
You can check out Gu Bar's Facebook page here.