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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Trance act Aly & Fila: ‘To leave your sound, have your following and be playing at the big festivals all over the world – it’s very hard’

This weekend sees mammoth dance music festival Sensation return to the UAE – and for Egyptian trance duo Aly & Fila, it's far more than just another date in the calendar.
Fadi Wassef Naguib, left, and Aly Amr Fathalah of Aly & Fila. Courtesy Envie Events
Fadi Wassef Naguib, left, and Aly Amr Fathalah of Aly & Fila. Courtesy Envie Events

Mammoth dance-music festival Sensation returns, shifting to a new location, in the Dubai desert at Bab Al Shams.

While the 30,000-capacity party might be just another date on the performance calendar to most of the headliners, it is special to Aly & Fila, the Egyptian trance duo who have offered hope and inspiration to producers across the Middle East since breaking into the western-dominated musical mainstream.

“Aly and me are role models for a lot of people in the region,” says Fadi Wassef Naguib, or Fila, the 34-year-old co-founder who has toured the duo’s brand solo since bandmate Aly Amr Fathalah was ordered off the road seven years ago because of tinnitus.

“It wasn’t that easy for us to make a mark in the international scene. To leave your sound, have your following and be playing at the big festivals all over the world – it’s very hard. A lot of people look up to us.”

This will be your biggest show in the UAE – bigger even than Creamfields Abu Dhabi four years ago.

That was an amazing show. What I loved was the amount of people from all over the Arab world – Lebanese, Egyptians, Emiratis, even Syrians back then when people were able to travel easily – it was a big gathering of people from all over the region and a really good party. I really enjoyed it.

How did you discover dance music growing up in Egypt?

When dance was big in Europe in the 1990s, it was also big in Cairo. We had a huge scene, which not many people know about right now, because the new generation didn’t live at that time. I started clubbing at parties in Berlin and London. It started with house, then trance was really big – Paul van Dyk, Sasha – I just loved this sound, and this is the sound we continued to follow. We are just putting our own touch on it and marking a new version for 2016.

Electronic music returned with a vengeance a few years ago.

Let’s try to say something. Normal people who want to go to a party, you can’t judge their taste – they don’t care about music that much, they want to go, have a good time and leave. That’s the general audience you have, and that’s the problem with EDM – you don’t present any taste, it’s just bangers being played. You don’t try to say anything. It has no message, and no soul.

Tell us about your radio show, Future Sound of Egypt.

This year we reached 450 episodes. We’re being broadcast on more than 70 FM stations worldwide. It is very important to us, the most important thing in our brand – it shows you can really teach people, show them what’s happening. That’s what I loved about music all along: you go to a party and you don’t expect a DJ to play any track, you go to get inspired, to be surprised – now that doesn’t happen that much. You go to a festival and the DJ on the main stage is like a jukebox, and then another jukebox comes on.

You have a new album on the way next year – what will it sound like?

Like Aly & Fila, with some new inspiration, because every year we hear new stuff. This year, I went to a lot of techno parties, which I was so inspired by, so there will be a lot of influence from techno and deep house, but more melodic. That’s what we want to bring to the scene – more melody.

Sensation Dubai is at Bab Al Shams Event Arena on Friday from 6pm. Tickets from Dh500. For more details, visit www.sensation.com

rgarratt@thenational.ae