As hot as the Sahara and standing every bit as tall as pyramids, they’re the single most successful group to have emerged from the spiritual lands of Egypt. From the Med to the Red and from up high in Cairo, to down deep in the Sinai, they’ve built an immense, ultra-loyal in-country following, From that foothold turntable Shamans, Aly Amr Fathalah and Fadi Wassef Naguib went global. With their career-launching Egyptrance releases (inc. ‘Eye of Horus’ and ‘Spirit of Ka’) through to latter-day master-blasters like ‘We Control The Sunlight’, their production credentials are only now matched by their spinning ones. Ranked as one of the 20 biggest DJ acts in EDM (source: DJ Magazine Top 100 DJs 2012), they delight crowds now numbered annually in the millions, bringing their inimitable sound to the world’s most prestigious clubs and festivals. No mirage, no illusion – this is Aly & Fila.
With you growing up in Egypt, how do you think that influenced your musical styling?
We are very proud Egyptians. The country is full of such history and culture. You can tell in our earlier productions from 2003 that there are elements, sounds that can be related to where we are from.
Tell us a bit about your inspirations growing up? Who did you listen to? Any guilty pleasures?
Family and friends were key inspirations for us, then when we started to discover dance music in the 1990s, we knew we wanted to try this. We have both been friends since kindergarten and we work really well together. Haha, guilty pleasures – remain secret.
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.
Who are your DJ heroes?
Paul van Dyk, The Thrillseekers, Chicane. They were our main influences when we were starting.
Do you think nowadays with so much crossing of genres DJ’s are experiencing a better sense of freedom in their work? And allowing them the opportunity to try new things?
We are seeing each day genres becoming sectioned. DJs and producers are trying new things. But we will always stick to what we love and believe in, which is the sound that’s become associated with Aly & Fila.
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 advice aspiring artist?
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?
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 would you say your biggest fear is as a DJ?
People not enjoying our sets or music anymore.
If you weren’t doing the job you do now, what would you be doing?
FILA: Possibly working with my father in his business…
ALY: Hmmm, maybe making music for movies.