Ahead of the final Boogie Night of the season at Cairo Jazz Club, we catch up with party-starter DJ Ramy to talk booze, babes and beats...
A talented producer, DJ and sound manager for Arabian Knightz, DJ Ramy is the quintessential crowd pleaser. Although he's been typecast as the DJ who just plays Funk, Hip Hop and Commercial tunes, we found out that the most stylish man in all of DJ-land is also a classically trained musician, playing the cello and the piano. He’s a digital media manager by day, and party-starting music maestro by night. Ahead of the final Boogie Night at Cairo Jazz Club on Wednesday 12th June, we talk to the über-confident, endlessly enthusiastic and fresh to death deck dazzler about being sober, his vast collection of sneakers/women and putting on a show, before we join DJ Ramy’s Army.
Do you want a cigarette?
No I don’t smoke. Actually, I don’t do any drugs or drink. Never have.
No way. How is that possible for a DJ?
It’s fucking fun. I’m high on other things.
How did you get started in your musical journey?
My parents are musicians. My father is a clarinet player and my mother is a piano player and a music teacher. I play the cello and the piano as a result!
How long ago did you start producing?
I’ve been doing it on and off. First time I tried production was back in 2000.
Was that before the good stuff was available?
It was more me trying out my talent, to see if I can really do it or not. That lasted until 2005, back in the days when I used to go back forth between Egypt and Holland. I lived there for about 4 years, so I did music over there. Mostly Hip Hop. Then things got complicated so I stopped producing and focused on DJing, which really took off in around 2008.
Have you always been into Hip Hop?
Not just Hip Hop. I was born in the 70s which meant my youth was in the 80s which was when music was a big mix of electronic music, Rock, Pop, House. Then in the 90s, Hip Hop took a big place in the music scene, at least in my life. But at the same time, I was still interested in other genres of music because I think if you’re interested in music you can appreciate everything. It’s like a big ocean.
We didn’t know that you played much House, but there you were the other night playing at House Session at Cairo Jazz Club..
I’m not trying to prove myself, it’s just that I don’t believe in categorising DJs by genre. At the end of the day, a DJ should be a real musician and a real musician doesn’t have a favourite kind of music. Even with Boogie Night – it’s about the experience as much as it is about the music. It can be Hip Hop, Funk, Disco or House, but it’s all in the frame of Boogie because it all came from the same place.
What’s your day job?
I’m an operations manager at a digital design house. We do online branding on websites and stuff.
Have you ever thought about making music your fulltime career?
I think I would love to. It’s very challenging, actually, to have two jobs at the same time. But I mean I enjoy both because there is creativity in my day job as well. It’s not just business.. You actually create a whole brand. You sit down with clients and talk to them and see their personality and you want to put their personality in that product and then you want to create the brand. It’s helped my DJing career too, opening up my eyes on how to create a brand and a identity through the gigs I play, such as including visuals in my set.
Of course there’s a lot of benefit of having visuals but do you think it takes away from experiencing the crowd and the music?
I think having visuals actually supports the music because, usually, when you listen to music in your room or whatever, at one point, you close your eyes and you imagine your own footage to go to the track. I think having the visuals with music is something similar. It’s like having an actual dream.
Can you pin point any of your favourite gigs so far?
Boogie Nights for the past six months have been doing really well and people actually feel the difference which is nice. Also a couple of years ago in Sahel I played at the fist Nostalgia night at Turquoise and it was great. It was the summer right after the revolution and people were ready for whatever I would give them.
Do you play abroad a lot?
Recently I played in Denmark. Last Autumn, I played in Italy and France, before that I was in Denmark again. I’ve also played in Qatar and Dubai.
How was the feedback in Qatar?
Qatar was more like the Hip Hop part of me because the scene there is really developing. I was there with the Arabian Knights.
How’s that collaboration going?
I’m their DJ, sound manager and producer. I’m not the only producer though. I’ve been working with them from 2006.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you while you were playing?
There was one gig where it was obvious that the kind ofmusic I’m playing isn’t what this person was interested in. In the middle of a packed dance floor and people jumping and having fun, this one girl came up to me like, “Mish hatel3ab 7aga 3arabi ba2a?” and I’m not a mean person…
But you said KOSSOMIK?
No! Not at all!
How did you manage to maintain your style whenever one else jumped on the Deep House bandwagon?
If you’re a writer, you won’t suddenly become a singer because it’s cool. You have to do what you’re good at. What makes a difference and why Boogie Nights are still so strong, is that I haven’t changed my style. I’ve just developed it and blended it with new sounds. It’s all about entertainment and making everyone happy at the end of the day. I told her “Ma3lesh, 3arabi magash enaharda.”
Who are the artists or musicians in Egypt that you respect ?
I liked the guy from the first Red Beats, Batawi. I really like his style and he has good potential.
Do you have any advice for any upcoming DJ that would want to make it in Egypt?
I think they should do what they like and what they believe in and not follow any kind of trend. Music at the end of day doesn’t survive out of fashion, it survives out of originality.
Would you say you are the most stylish DJ in Egypt? Because, Ramy, You are one stylish motherfucker! How many pairs of sneakers do you have?
Oh man you don’t want to go there.
HOW MANY PAIRS OF SNEAKERS DO YOU HAVE???
At my crib now, about 45 and at my mother’s house there’s the same amount.
Do you have more sneakers or women?
I treat my sneakers the same way that I treat women. I’m really good to my sneakers…
Do you tie them up?
I keep them clean…
You clean your women?
I wouldn’t mind!
Do you still play the cello?
Actually I produced on track with a rapper from Holland, called Pete Philly, and the cello was a big part of it.
When can we expect more productions from you then?
I’m actually working on a track at the moment it should be ready by next week. It’s Trip Hop. My last track was a bit commercial. I think it’s the first Grime track to be done in the Middle East.
What can we expect from you next week for Boogie Night.
It’s going to be the last Boogie night before we take a break for a moth because of Ramadan. So it should be a big one and music-wise, I’m preparing more material. It’s going be more fun, more hyped and more energetic. Up-to-date tunes with a Boogie feel.
Finish this sentence: “Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the…”
Boogie Night with DJ Ramy is on Wednesday 12th June at Cairo Jazz Club. You can book your spot using Tazkarty here.