Direct from Cairo, the Future Sound of Egypt made a stop in Las Vegas at Marquee Dayclub on June 14 in the form of Aly & Fila. Garnering a top 20 nod in 2012’s DJ Mag top 100 poll, Aly Amr Fathalah and Fadi Wassef Naguib’s productions have made them the most-successful Egyptian-exports in the scene. We caught up with Fila to chat about A&F’s forthcoming album, FSOE300 and more before he delved out a refreshing poolside dose of melodic, uplifting trance.
What's in store for the next LP, Quiet Storm?
It’s been three years since the last album, Rising Sun, and we’ve been working really hard on this new album. The feedback so far has been really good and I’m so happy with the feedback. I can’t wait; the release date is on the 28th of June. It’s more mature-sounding because it’s the second album. The first album is always a trial to get the experience to manage an album—because it’s not easy to do an album; it’s not like a single where you get it out and bye-bye. An album has to have a message at the end and make it a journey and I think we managed this well on the new album. Hopefully people won’t disagree [laughs].
What track on the album are you most proud of?
From the instrumental tracks, there’s this track called “First Sun,” and from the vocal tracks, there’s “Mysteries Unfold” and I play[ed] it today [at Marquee]. I think from instrumentals versus vocals, those are the picks from each style.
There’s a lot of collaborations on Quiet Storm, such as with Giuseppe Ottaviani and John O’Callaghan. What’s your favorite?
The collab we did with Solarstone, “Fireisland,” is my favorite. It’s a really good track; we did the club versions and released that last year. For the album, we did a chill-out mix of it and I think it’s beautiful.
With your first album Rising Sun, what was the thought process in including a slower song like “Paradise,” and is there something along those lines on Quiet Storm?
Actually, there’s a couple of ones like that on Quiet Storm. There is a lot of chill-out tracks. I don’t want to have an album that is the whole same sound. I want to try and show some other sides of Aly & Fila because we like a lot of other styles, but our favorite is still the uplifting sound, that banging sound is still our signature sound and we always keep it there. Also for an album, we always can try new stuff; it’s more fun for us producing an album.
What was your musical background before teaming up with Aly?
I didn’t have much musical background. I started with some piano lessons, but never went into it too deep. But then when I was around 15 years old, I started studying music theory and continued at the university with music theory. Then afterwards I got an audio engineering diploma.
What’s the dynamic like in the studio between you two?
We both play the instruments. Sometimes Aly writes the melody or I write the melody and then we work on it. We both have our own studios so normally we work alone and then we meet up in a third studio where it’s a studio we work only together in it. It’s 50/50 in everything: Programming, melody-wise and composition.
When on the road, you spin solo now, correct?
Live I do it alone because Aly can’t travel anymore and can’t be exposed to very loud music because he’s had a problem with his ears for six years now because of a show actually. So recently I’ve been doing all the shows alone.
Do you miss having him there to spin with you?
Yeah, for sure. It’s always fun to be playing with someone—for example a back-to-back set with John O’Callaghan. I love it when I get to play with someone, it’s really cool.
If people are newcomers to your music, what is important for them to know?
I would say to be open-minded to the music. That’s it. Just be open-minded, try to enjoy it and try to understand it because I think with trance music, it’s a beautiful sound with a lot of melodies, really nice grooves. I think it should become bigger now.
What’s the dance music scene like in Egypt?
It’s really growing really fast in Egypt now. We have really nice clubs opening, a lot of underground nights happening. I think in two or three years it will be so big in Egypt.
How often do you get to play there?
I play every three months. I do my own show, a Future Sounds of Egypt night at Club Space in Sharm El Sheikh, and it’s been growing every time and really getting big.
The Future Sounds of Egypt radio show is doing well and about to hit 300 episodes. With the assortment of radio shows and podcasts, why should people check out yours?
I would say we have a weekly show which is one-hour, and it’s one hour of pure, melodic and uplifting banging trance. So for people who like this sound, I think they should check it out—and maybe for other people who didn’t even listen to it before, give it a try, you’ll like it [laughs]!
With all the dance music out there, what song do you love that you wish you’d created?
Paul van Dyk, “For an Angel.” That track got me in this scene. I remember I was a clubber and I was in Berlin listening to Paul van Dyk and he played the track and I was like, “Oh my God.” Goosebumps. I will never forget that moment. —Deanna Rilling