Party life has slowly dwindled into the quiet afterhours at Orange County's infamous Club Sutra, and we're on our way to the red room for an exclusive Aly & Fila interview with Fadi, AKA "The turntable Shaman" of the Egyptian Trance duo. I'm still left in complete awe from the magical two hour experience that just took place before me. The energy from the night was so vibrant, it was almost tangible. The music itself blended with raw emotion, incredible spirit and Fadi's ability to push his energy onto the decks and through the speakers, transcending the crowd from the physical performance of music into a much deeper, more complex state of mind. This was not simply another night at the club with tequila shots and one night stands. This was a journey, a path paved by uplifting melodies and carved by steady synths. Harmonious. Glorious. Beautiful.
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Here we are, relaxed as ever in the red room chatting like old friends instead of the fresh acquaintances we truly were. We connect immediately and I sense a rare comfort in Fadi. He is humbled. This life is not his servant, and it owes nothing to him. He carries a warm disposition and through his thick Arabic accent lies the kindest undertone. Here before me is an artist, a passionate human being. Not a robot, not a celebrity. His career has not defined who he is, it is merley the tool by which he communicates his love, his mission to the world. Here is the present & future of Egyptian powerhouse Trance duo, Aly & Fila.
What's the story behind your solo performances? Is there separation between the studio and the decks when it comes to you & Aly?
Well, Aly is actually back at home. He suffered a massive injury at a performance in Mexico, the monitors were really loud and we couldn't control it from the mixer. Yeah, so even wearing earplugs didn't do much. So he's in Egypt right now, he has a big studio and we produce music there, and work with a lot of companies in Egypt doing advertising and stuff like that. You know, we have a normal job. So when I get back we're always working on stuff like that together.
Tell me something about the upcoming Ministry of Sound "Trance Nation" compilation coming up. How does it feel to be heading such a massive compilation? What was your focus diving into it?
I can't wait for Trance Nation! I've always seen the older compilations, and when we were contacted to do the new Trance Nation compilation, I was like "Wow, this is a dream come true." You know, I had been a big fan a long time ago, like when Ferry Corsten (1999) mixed the CD I was a huge fan. Now, we get to mix it ourselves and it's just... Wow. An honor. When we took it on, we decided that we were going to do it a little bit different than the last couple of years. We are going to do it the way we want. We went into it knowing we didn't need any heavily commercialized tracks, we wanted to keep it how we've kept our music over the last 8 years, and Ministry of Sound loved the idea. They said 'Do it, Do what you want.' They gave us the green light on everything.
After 'Trance Nation,' what's next? Any sold near-future plans?
Well, we have a new single coming out in June. Getting the clip ready for it! And we also have a new artist album coming out in September. We're working really hard! No Sleep! We're also on a huge tour for our Future Sound of Egypt 350 celebration... and a big, big stop for that in New York. We expect that to sell out very quickly.
You guys are pumping out the albums like crazy! Your dedication in the studio is clear! Also, congratulations on your FSOE (Future Sound of Egypt) 350 tour. What's next for the label?
Actually, I have some really big news about the label. You're the first to know! We are having a new side label for FSOE, and it's going to be run by two amazing talents- one new artist you've never heard of out of Egypt, Hazem Beltagui & the talented Bjorn Akesson. It's going to be much more than our uplifting, 140 style sound. It's going to be centered around doing whatever we want. We're going to do what counts.
Wow! That's huge. We definitely can't wait to hear the productions that come off that label! These last 12 months have been massive for you guy. First the album release of "Quiet Storm," then came the ASOT Horizon tour, and you topped it off with Ultra. Now you're here doing more shows. When did the marriage between dreams and hard work payoff into this level of success- and what was your defining career moment that catapulted you to now?
Let me tell you something. Honestly, this is how Aly & I were in the beginning, and how we've always been. We don't care about the trends. People will say "Oh, well we think you could change to this big-room house," or "You could do really well with this, you could make some money out of it," or whatever. But I'm just like, Sorry Man. That's not the way we work. We are artists, we do what we believe in. We don't do it for easy money. This is our roots! We learned our style of music through Paul van Dyk. He's a genius. And we want to keep it that way, we refuse to divide. We keep our style big, we keep it alive.
I can appreciate that. In regards to the both of you coming together as Artists, what is the challenge, if any to keep your duo strong? It seems like groups & duos are continuously parting ways and going in their own individual directions. What's your take?
Well... They're either breaking up or throwing cakes. I'll tell you what, Aly and I are 100%. We have been in each other's ears since kindergarten, we go back years and years. We are very good friends, and I know that sometimes friends don't mix well with business and money, but Aly & I just work. We understand each other.
What's tour life like?
It's the same as everyone, no fancy shit. No throwing cakes, no limousines, nothing like that. We live a normal life. I have a kid now and I'm enjoying my life. I'm making music, spending time with my family and my friends back home. I do the same thing as everyone else, it's a normal job. With all of the added extravagances, you loose sight of your focus, and lose track of what you're doing. Sorry to disappoint you!
No apology necessary! It's honestly nice to hear the humbling and grounding of a normal life. A normal life makes your career tangible and essentially easy to relate to. We like that! What is the most valuable piece of advice you've been given, and in turn what you can give to advise aspiring artists?
To be honest, growing up I didn't get any advice. We weren't that lucky. We were in Egypt and there wasn't internet or YouTube. We couldn't get online and look up "How to Make a Trance Track" there was nothing at the time. We started from the bottom, creating our tracks from sequencers and everything in between. We learned the hard way, and my advice for anyone is to always do your best, and only do what you believe in. Don't do what's best for everyone else, and don't do what's popular. It's really the only advice I can give. When you make it big, you will be more proud of yourself.
What is life like when you come off your tour? Does anything change back home? Here, you have fans ready to take their shirts off and spend all their evenings partying to your soundtrack, there's gotta be some change in that lifestyle to the home life.
As an artist, we don't change. For me, I admire the tours. You can tell when people truly appreciate what you do. They listen and they feel it, they don't just say "Ok Bye" when it's over and done. For me, it's really important that our fans love our music and we have to continuously show them that everything we do is for them. Like, I saw this tattoo of 'Aly & Fila' on someone's arm and I'm like "Ouch! What if I disappoint you?" So yeah, I always have to make sure that no matter what we do on tour or at home, it's always for our people.
What draws you into Trance in the first place? What captivates you?
Trance is my entire life. It's always been about Paul van Dyk. The first time I saw him was in Germany, and I was just a kid. I was one of those ones ready to take my shirt off and party with him. It was a groupie moment, and now look at us here, we're friends! He is a good friend of ours and it's just really cool now.
How was the ASOT Horizon Tour? And how are you enjoying the back to back project with John O'Callaghan?
It was absolutely perfect. What else can I say? Honestly, playing with Armin, wherever it is- it's always perfect. He has been doing a lot for Trance music, without him I don't think I would be here. With John O'Callaghan, I love it, I love it! I'll tell you something. Playing alone is definitely cool. But playing with someone who shares the same visions as you, it's perfect. It comes together and it's perfect.
What is the difference in performing at shows like ASOT, FSOE or massive festivals in comparison to your club settings?
I'll be honest with you, I prefer this. It's closer than big festivals. It's intimate and you can really feel the reaction from the crowd. Playing in the club is different, because it's much closer.
If you weren't part of the Aly & Fila brand, what would you be doing?
The Aly and Fila brand will never fade. We won't change ourselves or our sound. This is us, we're not going anywhere and we're here to create a sound for our fans. It won't change. If the time ever comes where we feel the need to change our sound, I won't bullshit myself about it. But if I wasn't here, I would be a chef. Cooking!