Electronica meets psych-rock on 'Overk' - the Debut Release from Cairo's Hossam Hilal / by Louis Sterling-Snell

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After several months of exchanges between Hossam and IDS, we are proud to present ´Overk´, a collection of textural works from the experimentalist that hints at styles of world music, packaged with the influences of psychedelic rock and electronica.

The journey begins with ‘Hurry up’, a collage of luscious tonal bodies and melodic electric guitar riffs, topped with a beauteous synthesis of sampled drums. As Hossam takes us into the more organic, off-kilter African percussion on tracks such as ‘Habitat’ and ‘Ma Fi Makan’, the artist begins to unveil his Egyptian roots with a more traditional, celebratory atmosphere of a city with a rich cultural history. The E.P. closes with ‘Crippled Down’, a delicately dissonant blend of metallic textures and concrete basslines.

Download Hossam Hilal - Overk here

Interview (Conduced by Jamie Moore for IDS)

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Who/what were your main influences when writing Overk?

I had lots of influences, some African artists, like “Tinariwen”, “Nabil Othmani”, “Bombino”, some electronic artists, like “ Kerala dust”, “Nicola cruz”.

Also I think it’s a mixture of influences, I really like psychedelic music, and indie, and jazz, and lots of other genres also; I think an artist collects a lot of music then interprets it in his own way in his music.

Your music combines a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds. Is there something that draws you to this approach, rather than working exclusively with one form?

I come from a totally acoustic background, I started playing piano when I was really young, then later guitar, later at university I learned Drums, but I didn’t like electronic music back then at all. Then I started getting more into  progressive music, with which I started adding electronic elements. Then through friends I got to listen to more electronic music. Sometimes I work exclusively with one form, like in the track “Ma Fi Makan”, it is completely acoustic, but mixing between them is what makes the song full in my opinion; I am not really convinced that electronic music was made to imitate acoustic sounds, it was actually made to create new sounds, sometimes inspired by acoustic instruments definitely, but I really think they complement each other, adding different textures and timbres.

How do you find the music scene in Cairo? Has it influenced your music in any way?

The music scene in Cairo is definitely getting better although it is fairly a small scene compared to the size of Cairo. There are lots of challenges though, especially the lack of venues; which also gives some limitations in terms of getting a new crowd as an artist. Also as organizers, they would have to get the musicians and the music genres that people liked the most; which definitely shaped my music, I mean when someone listens to a certain genre of music for a long time, it will inevitably affect his music, whether he likes it or not.

Do you have a favourite album or artist right now?

I can’t say I have one favorite album or artist, when I listen to music, it always depends on my mood, or what time of day it is. Just from the top of my head, I love the album “Awalin” by Steve Shehan; there is also this ambient jazz album called “the heights of the reeds” by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang; I really love the music in it.

What was your favourite record when you were young?

I’ve always had a problem in choosing one favourite record, but there are two records that I listened to a lot when I was young. Steven Wilson’s album “The raven that refused to sing”, and Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”.

Are there any specific people, musicians or otherwise, that you find especially inspiring?

Well, there are some musicians that I really love in terms of their approach to their music, where they come from and what they achieved, like Richard Bona for example, and like Nicolas Jaar, whose music has taken a really experimental turn now!! There are comedians also that I am really into, like David Hoyle, and David Mitchell. There are also movies that definitely inspired how I look at art in general!!

Is there a direction that you can see your music taking which you haven’t yet explored?

I make a totally different type of music also under the name “Hil”, it’s more psychedelic and ambient. The direction that I would like to explore is more about creating my own sound, exploring more with different textures, going more psychedelic I think.

I’m also really into weird instruments; and I always like to play new instruments, currently I just started playing Flute, still trying though!!

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