Without a doubt, we’ve seen Egypt’s cultural landscape regain some its past glory in recent years. The nation might just make its return as a regional hub for creativity. This time around, it’s all about music. From the electronic mahraganat movement to the chaabi-influenced hip-hop beaming everywhere on radios and in taxis, Egypt’s musical scene is going on another lap of success following in the path that age-old figures like Abd El Halim Hafez and Um Kulthum carved back in the mid-20th century.
At the center of today’s stage stands Lella Fadda, a 22-year-old creative who, despite her young age, has already had a rich experience in the world of entertainment. The singer, songwriter and composer continued on to solidify her status amongst some of her native country’s main names after playing alongside Mohammed Ramadan in the popular TV series El Brins.
But she’s now set her sights on the world music, the part-Italian artist is making a pit stop to satisfy her musical cravings and fuel her ambition to become one of the region’s musical ambassadors. The crooner recently worked hand in hand with one of Egypt’s rap icons, Abyusif, to deliver a three-minute love-drenched song harping some of the crushing realisations of relationships and enamourous encounters on a slow-tempo track.
Like we always love doing, we kept our ears to the ground for the hottest up and coming artists from the region and sat down with Lella Fadda to chat about her career, inspirations and Egypt’s music scene.
How did you get started in the world of music?
I started writing my own music when I was 18 when I met Abyusif. He was the one pushing me to write my own songs, stop making covers and find my sound. To be performing with him five years later feels amazing.
How did your track with him come to life?
We worked on this song together back in August 2021. We were just sat with a bunch of people and got it written and recorded. It was initially supposed to feature in his album before he changed his mind. He just chose that it’ll be part of the EP and was actually released without me knowing. I was super apprehensive and anxious about the audience’s response. It’s one of my friends who went to check how the track was received and that told me that the comment section loved it.
What serves as inspiration for you when making music?
My experiences inspire me, my pain inspires me, listening to other music from other artists too – more than you would think actually. And so do colors and just nature in general too.
A big source of inspiration is Kurt Cobain. I’ve been obsessed with him, his writing and riffs since my teenage years. I actually like writing my music based on riffs because of him.
What are your thoughts on the development of the Egyptian scene and Arab scene? Where do you see yourself fit into all of this?
I’m super happy about the scene’s expansion. It makes me feel like there are more challenges although I don’t like competing. I don’t think I make music to prove a point but rather to document my life through my songs and appearances. I believe in history and want to be part of it. I still don’t know how I fit into this whole scene just yet, but I don’t think there’s a reference to I what I do here with Arabic, it’s experimental in terms of genre yes, but not there’s no exact label to what I actually do overall, especially that I dabble into acting too. In all honesty, I just think that at this point I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me.
Could you tell us more about your adventures in the world of acting?
Acting is one string on my bow. I’m still on a journey of learning new skills as I still take part in workshops and work hard to get more opportunities. I really enjoy acting and I believe that I still have a lot to offer. I really like impersonating others and embodying their different lives, ones that I’m probably not going to be living any time soon. I’m excited to see what will come my way, what offers will be laid out on the table as well as to see opportunities that suit my thoughts and beliefs will come too.
The roles I have played so far were mainly offered for me to get more experience in the field and concluded in a business sense. I want to do actual art. I don’t believe in doing and then choosing. I like choosing because it’s my career at the end of the day that we’re talking about. I’m taking time and a step back from acting to first be able to improve myself as well as my skills in acting to be able to pick roles that will be a better fit to my persona.
As an artist and creative, what do you find difficult in trying to stay relevant?
I find it quite difficult as social media is the main driving force in this force but it freaks me out. Anything you post has 20, 30, 40 thousand people following interacting with you when you don’t really know who all these people are. I get huge anxiety from posting. I’m comfortable with creating but not pressing the post button.
What can we expect from you for the rest of this year?
To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few months. I’m just working and finding the tracks that fit together. Everything I’m going to release are things that I’ve done recently, which is unusual because my older tracks are things I’ve been working on for a long time – if you haven’t noticed, I’m quite picky. Everything is going to be more of me, rather than my previous tracks.
Make up: Farah Ammar @thefarahammar