The Egyptian-Canadian metal band Massive Scar Era will be singing at the same concert. Having started playing music in Alexandria, the band’s main members Cherine Amr and Nancy Mounir have collaborated with many international artists. In 2010, Mascara’s hit single, Aba’ad Makan (‘The Furthest Place’), became the main theme for the award-winning Egyptian independent film, Microphone. D-CAF’s press team interviewed band member Cherine Amr, for an update about what the band has been through since becoming established in Canada.
Q: How do you feel about your first comeback concert at D-CAF in Egypt?
A bit anxious but also excited. We already became established as a band in Egypt several years ago. When we arrived in Canada, we found a new audience with a smaller market. Having gained an international name, we are now returning after having toured all over Canada.
Q: Having relocated to Canada, what do you consider the differences between being a band in Egypt and Vancouver?
In both countries there are advantages and disadvantages. In Egypt, for instance, there have generally been problems relating to technical aspects or the availability of venues. In Canada on the other hand, while there are struggles, they are much easier and it can even get quite exciting, when touring and having to sleep in motels, for instance.
In Canada, we have received two grants so far, the first of which allowed us to tour nationally. The second grant allowed us to produce our music video ‘unfollow’. Canadians are curious and impressed to see how diverse we are as band members: I’m an Egyptian Muslim, Nancy Mounir is a Christian living in Egypt and Dealen is a Canadian from the indigenous community.
Q: As a majority-female band, how do you see the evolution of Egyptian female artists and do you believe that they are not yet on the same ground as their male colleagues?
Inequality in artistic representation is a worldwide phenomenon. Nevertheless, we can say that in Egypt there has been a larger variety and an increase in the number of female artists in recent years. Female artists in Egypt are demonstrating their artistic presence and talent despite social pressures.
It is thanks to our first band manager that my mum has accepted I continue to perform in the band.
Q: In Fairest of all you have taken cues from Al-Mutanabbi, the controversial Arabic poet. Do you think an artist should simply submit to following the mainstream, or should he/she strive to manifest an individual artistic style?
I have never considered rebellion as my aim. For me, music is a form of self-expression in itself, it isn’t methodical. You just feel that you need to express, you need to share your art, your talent and your moods with public. If it’s not genuine, the audience would feel it.
Q: In 2010, you released Ab3a’d Makan for the multi-award-winning independent film, Microphone, why haven’t you collaborated in any other film projects since then?
That is because we had never intended for our song to be included in a feature film. It just happened that Ahmad Abdallah, Microphone‘s director, attended one of our concerts and liked the song. Moreover, we are not that good at networking and the mainstream arts industry requires good connections and networks.
Q: In your opinion, how can the stigma around the metal genre be fought in Egypt? How can we motivate producers to support this genre?
The metal genre faces stigma all around the world. The question of accepting it in Egypt is particular in that most people tend to associate metal bands — as they do with any other young music bands for that matter — with deviation from morality or religion. This is not true at all. We need to reach a more tolerant stance towards metal. The problem lies in the way the branding for metal is handled.