On Thursday, after weeks of anticipation, Cairene fans finally got the chance to attend the first event kicking off the D-CAF season. The opening of this year’s festival was a rocking concert by young Egyptian talent Dina El-Wedidi, along with Moroccan rock singer Khansaa’ Batma. For two hours, El-Wedidi and Batma delighted their audience with a medley of their songs.
In an exclusive interview, El-Wedidi spoke to Daily News Egypt about her music, the message she aims to deliver, and her vision of the musical scene on both the local and international levels.
Why did you decide to participate in the Downtown Contemporary Art Festival (D-CAF) this year?
This is the second time I am participating in D-CAF. The first time was in 2012, when I also performed in the festival’s opening concert alongside a famous Tunisian singer called Emel Methlouthi.
What I love about D-CAF is that they give singers a chance to perform on new stages facing a large audience, and this is a good opportunity for me. It also gave me the chance to sing with international singers like Khansa Batma, who is a very talented rock star in Morocco, and singing next to her is definitely a unique experience.
Unlike many Egyptian singers, you take a long time between releasing each album. Why is that?
The idea of releasing a new album is not difficult; I can release a new album every week. However, to produce satisfying, reputable content is quite a complicated task. Choosing lyrics that reflect your beliefs with music that makes them special requires time and effort. This is why it takes me approximately two years to release a new album.
Your songs are usually different from mainstream genres. Do you always seek to address a certain cause while choosing them?
I usually pick the lyrics that I love and I feel are easy to reach the soul. I love focusing on cultural issues.
Recently, however, I started moving towards songs that were written based upon personal experiences, like problems I have dealt with in my own life. This makes it easier for me to deliver the meaning of these songs to people and allows them to experience the same conditions through my voice.
Your songs seem to encourage women’s empowerment, is this intentional?
I believe it is mostly coincidental. I just decide to sing the songs that I feel represent me. But this does not mean I do not support the rights women should have in the Arab world generally, and in Egypt specifically. As a woman, I am aware of the importance of spotlighting the problems Arab women face in their lives.
In my songs, I talk about the way society deals with women overall, and the cultural aspect is included.
You have performed much fewer concerts in Egypt in recent times. Why is that?
I was not performing many concerts in Egypt because I was busy with international concerts. I had a tour that lasted for four months, in which I held concerts in United States and Europe. I am also preparing for my next album, which is consuming a lot of my time and effort.
Have you ever been banned from singing any of your songs inside Egypt or abroad?
Yes, I was in Sudan and I was supposed to perform a concert at the opening of Sudan Independent Film Festival.
Before the start of the concert, the administration asked us not to sing certain songs, which they believed had a political facet. While performing, we were surprised to find the audience asking us to sing these songs particularly.
Your music cannot be categorised in a specific genre; it’s a bit of rock, jazz and progressive rock. Do you plan on ever narrowing the range into a specific genre?
I want to explore all music types and genres before I decide to sing in a certain genre. I wanted to take my time at singing all types before deciding to create my own identity. In my new album, I am singing in the new-folk genre, which is different from anything I have done before.
So, until I reach my certain final identity, I will sing in fusion.