We speak to the man making waves on the underground scene about fusing Oriental with Electronic and the state of Egyptian music.
"Louca! Louca! Louca!” a pack of hungry Experimental Electronic enthusiasts cry away at Vent, as Maurice Louca slowly fades away the last synth of an arduous and explosive set. They want more, it’s why we were there and after seeing him bring hundreds of lazing bohemians to raving status in front of the stage at 3alganoob, we wanted to see more. His live performance is a soundwave attack on your synapses, blending in crunching beats and stand-out audio samples all blanketed in this Oriental vibe that is appealing more than overwhelming. The full time musician was born and raised in Cairo coming into prominence with Bikya before branching out to explore his own sound, later releasing his first studio album, Garraya, in 2011 on the 100 Copies label. We have a chat with Louca about the influences on his distinctive style and the state of Electronic music in Egypt today...
Tell us about your music background and who were your main influences growing up?
I started out playing guitar, and shortly afterwards formed a band and a musical partnership with Mahmoud Waly, who I still play with in Bikya. I mostly played Rock and Psychedelic music, then around 2003 bought a keyboard/synthesizer and started to explore different realms.
A lot of people have tried merging that Oriental sound with heavy Electronic beats but it seems you've successfully made it cohesive, what's your secret?
Thank you for thinking I have done something right! I guess maybe it’s because I never really thought of it as mixing, it’s just the accumulation of sounds and music that I listen to that is all around me and has a huge influence on me.
Do you care if your music becomes popular outside Egypt and the Middle East?
Well I live and work here, so I naturally feel that my work in a lot of ways makes more sense here; the way it’s perceived and appreciated. But I have no nationalistic or chauvinistic view of music, I definitely care, and it makes me very happy to connect musically with anyone really. I really do believe music has no borders.
What do you use to produce and what's your live set up?
It differs from different projects, but I guess you are mostly referring to my latest solo work. Most of it was recorded with musicians in studios, I also used some out board gear like synthesizer, organ, sampler effects boxes etc… plus, at times, it goes through Ableton live for tweaking, and then I use Logic as a multitrack.
What's your take on Egypt's Electronic music scene at the moment and where do you think it could improve?
I think Cairo is a very exciting place to be these days for music, there is great momentum, and vibrancy. Not just Electronic music - there is a lot happening across the board from Folk to Electronic with a lot of other different things in between. What’s mainly missing and could improve is the platform, more venues, management, press...
What has been your biggest gig to date?
Not sure exactly what you mean by biggest but I guess in terms of scale of production and attendance, it was probably an Alif ensemble gig at a festival in London around the time of the Olympics.
How important have visuals become performing Electronic artists these days? Is it enough to just play your music or is it important to express in other mediums as well?
It should be enough to just play your music, I don't see visuals as a necessity but could be a great addition if done with the same approach and direction as the music. I worked with visual artist Tarek Hefny for the release of my debut album Garraya. We spent months preparing and weeks rehearsing, it felt like a duo and was a great experience. I would love to do something like that again but to just put random stock footage or just to have something to entertain visually is a very empty and disrespectful approach to the whole experience.
What was the last field recording you took and used in a track?
I have never really done much field recordings and the few times I used field recording in my music, it was recorded by someone else. It’s a world I haven't really ventured much into yet, but field recording can be so magical when they work in the composition. I always feel that in time I will get more into it.
What are you listening to most these days when you're not performing or producing?
That’’s always a difficult one, but at the top of my head I would say I have been listening a lot of Anette Peacock, Land of Kush, Tamer Abu Ghazala, the Beach Boys and Aaron Copland.
Do you have any upcoming projects or performances we should abe looking out for?
I have a solo show in Alexandria on the 20th of June as part of the Ufuqy festival. That's the only one scheduled in the next few weeks. But I have a few releases that should be coming out in the next few months. My new solo record, The Alif debut album, The Dwarves of East Agouza debut album, as well as Bikya's second album.