Jazzablanca 2019: Electronic artist Bosaina says Egyptian club scene is imploding

The pioneering producer and DJ is also making her mark across Africa

Bosaina performs at Jazzablanca Festival in Casablanca, Morocco on July 3, 2019. Courtesy of Jazzablanca Festival
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When The National last spoke to pioneering Egyptian music producer and DJ Bosaina in 2015, the country's thriving electronic music scene offered a challenging and contemporary option to Cairo club goers.

Unfortunately, four years later, Bosaina says the scene is in trouble. Speaking to us  before her July 3 set at the Jazzablanca Festival in Morocco, she laments how the vibrancy of past years has all but tuned down.

So what is the state of the Egyptian electronic music at the moment?

I don’t play much there anymore. It is currently imploding. There are only two or three festivals that are doing a great job but they don’t happen all the time. In terms of live music venues, there is basically none, except for the Cairo Jazz Club, perhaps. It is because there are certain politics at play now that dictates how venues can operate. As a result, I feel like it is no longer enticing.

You are viewed as one of handful of pioneers in the Egyptian electronic scene. How tough were those early gigs in Cairo when you were dropping these avant-garde club sounds to an unsuspecting public?

I have always been diverse when it comes to my DJ sets. But when I was younger, I was more insistent in what I wanted to do. It was a certain moment in my life where I wanted to make a very strong statement in a region that didn’t understand that music. It was a punk attitude in a way. In return, the audience weren’t that receptive. Some even booed. Now I am more diplomatic and more empathetic of the crowd. But at the same time, I want to bridge that understanding between what they think is weird and what I can provide from a genre they recognise, but done in a progressive way.

And now you are spreading that message across Africa. You are playing in Morocco tonight and before that you were in Ivory Coast. How’s the vibe like in this part of the world?

I am having a great time. I was in the Ivory Coast a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of musicians playing and it was an amazing adventure. I am planning to do gigs now in Ghana and Nigeria and build this pan African circuit. The crowds there a celebratory and not snobby and pretend to be cool like in Europe.

How do you plan your set lists?

Well, here for the festival, I will be dropping some crazy Moroccan trap beats mixed with some stuff from this cool Portuguese dance music label called Principe. This is what I do. My music is always an attempt at sourcing and presenting the most diverse selection of music possible in one or two hours.

Is there a message you want to present through the music?

I would say that the music follows a sonic theme. I do preselect a playlist before the show so I already have a mood that I am for, but I am not exactly sure of it until the show itself, because that ultimately depends on the interaction with crowd.