In this issue of the Victor Magazine, we would love to shed some light on a very important sector of the Egyptian community … the Nubians. The Nubian community in southern Egypt is a very warm and special community full of love and art. Black Theama is a music band whose members come from that beautiful part of Egypt. The band’s musical genre covers a wide range of styles from Nubian rhythms, reggae, hip-hop, and R&B, to music with other African influences. Through their music, they sing to “celebrate the black experience in Egypt”. In this interview, we take you closer to Black Theama who have opened their hearts to us and told us their amazing story.
1. How and when did Black Theama started as a band and how did you agree about it?
We met in the year 2003. Amir and Abdo were already a band together that was called Charisma and Bahr was singing independently. We met in a concert and once the subject of the band was discussed among us, we immediately agreed and started working together. Every one of us had their original work (not covers) so we were able to start on the spot.
2.We see that most of your work relates to an important sector of the Egyptian community; black Egyptians – can you please clarify that?
Black Egyptians whether from Nouba or Aswan relate more to our music because we are actually from there and we sing their music. This community is very special and particular about their art, however, although they relate more to Nubian artists, they do like all other sorts of music whether local or international. We consider ourselves lucky to have this audience supporting us but we are also committed to diversity and we appeal to different types of audience because we also sign different styles.
3. Although you have been involved in commercials production and movies’ soundtracks, Black Theama is still considered as an underground band – do you agree with that? And why?
Yes, that’s right. We produce our art on our own like the album “Ghawy Bany Admeen” and our concerts. Sometimes, things go to the commercial side like the albums “Ba7ar” and “Loon Elkakaw” or when we do movie or series soundtracks. Generally, we are a professional band and we generate enough income to cover for our songs and concerts.
4. Have you ever visited Dubai?
No. None of us has visited yet but we would love to come. There have been some proposals to do concerts there but unfortunately nothing materialized so far.
5. From inside the Black Theama band, what are your individual roles and how do you work as a team?
Bahr composes, Amir writes and composes, Abdo also writes and composes. We put the general scheme of the music arrangement when it comes to live performances together with the musicians who play with us among which are very well-known track composers who work also for other artists and bands. Of course, we sit and discuss all such things together and share each other’s opinion. It has been like that since we started.
6. In your opinion, what are the challenges that face the music industry in the Arab world? What do you think your role is in facing these challenges?
The biggest challenge in our opinion (and many others too) is the production. Production companies are not any more interested in producing high quality music content and they are after fast money-making content. This slows us down a bit as we have to produce for ourselves instead of having an experienced production company working with us.
There are a lot of “waves” nowadays that make big money faster when compared to other artists and bands – producers go to these artists for that reason. However, we have never stopped and never will … as long as we are able to produce on our own, we will keep doing it.
7. What is your favorite place in Cairo?
Our favorite places in Cairo are downtown, Zamalek and the Opera district. These are the places where we meet our close friends, and we feel comfortable there.
8. How do you choose your lyrics and how do you compose them?
With regards to lyrics, we have friends who are poets and many of them approach us when they write something they think fits us. If we like a piece, we go ahead and compose it.
With regards to composing, it either happens when we gather with our fellow musicians or individually if any of us gets a nice melody. For music arrangement, we choose the right track composer for the melody in question to do it.
9. What are the weirdest situations that happened with you during live performances?
Weird situations mostly happen because of overcrowding. Once we had a concert and the crowd kept increasing until they started climbing over the steel setup above the stage. We had to pause for a while and asked those guys to climb down as it was so unsafe.
Another unfortunate situation happened when Bahr spotted a couple from the crowd being harassed during one of the live performances. He stopped singing and pointed at the harasser and asked them to stop so that the concert could go on.
10. What do you like to say to the readers of Victor Magazine?
We are so delighted that we have given this interview to Victor Magazine for the first time. We would love to reach its readership and get them to know us and listen to our music. We would so much love to come to Dubai and sing there. Dubai is an international city with a lot of nationalities, and we trust that our music will relate well to Dubai’s crowd.