Neobyrd spreads his wings a little farther

The Egyptian electronica producer talks about the nation's burgeoning scene, ahead of his imminent second album.

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Wael Alaa, also known as Neobyrd, is Egypt's hottest electronica producer. He has just released his first music video on YouTube and is about to release his second album The King is Dead this month.

Nine years ago, Alaa's single Mad Jack was in rotation on UK and German radio stations. His 2011 album, Transbyrd - a versatile sampler of electronic genres - was embraced by Egyptian music critics, while his upbeat synth melodies and chimerical stage presence have made him a favourite in Cairo's nascent electronica scene.

Electronica has been around for ages, so why does it seem to be gathering a lot of fans in the Middle East only recently?

Electronica only properly entered Egypt four or five years ago, and even now it's still a small scene. There are a lot of house artists, but only two or three other electronica artists in Egypt. I think it's expanding and developing an audience.

How would you describe your music?

I like the concept of collages as an art form in general and I consider my work to be a sort of musical collage. It's basic elements combined to create something dense and complicated. My work has an old style, but new sound.

How is the new album a departure from Transbyrd?

It's very different. It's called The King is Dead and is mostly classic piano. Transbyrd was fun and lively, but The King is Dead is a lot more introspective. I would consider it neoclassical electronica. There's stuff that could easily fit in the past and some material that is boldly and obviously from 2012.

With little promotional support, why release an album at all?

Transbyrd introduced electronica, in all its forms, to Egypt. I think it encouraged others to show the music they were producing and make albums themselves. You have to try to push artists to be intrepid. As the scene grows, it translates to a larger audience when I come out to play, which in turn encourages producers to take notice.

You perform wearing a chicken head. Uh, why?

People always found my music really weird and I thought it would make the whole thing a lot more approachable. I love costumes and since my stage name is Neobyrd, I thought it expressed the fantasy of my music in general. I don't want to pose as this serious performer. I'm an entertainer and it makes my live performances more fun for both me and my audience.

For a preview of The King is Dead and to watch for its release date, visit