Helen Giles chats to the trance icons about touring lifestyle, the skills needed to create a great dance track, and their thoughts on their upcoming appearance at Digital Society’s 10th Birthday celebrations in June.
Last updated: 25th May 2017. Originally published: 22nd May 2017
For over two decades, Egyptian duo Aly Amr Fathalah (Aly) and Fadi Wassef Naguib (Fila) have dedicated their time to capturing the hearts, minds and imaginations of trance lovers everywhere through their uplifting productions and exciting performances as Aly & Fila.
Influenced by the likes of Paul Van Dyk, The Thrillseekers and Chicane, the pair took the plunge into the music industry back in 1999 by building their first small studio where their DJing skills and collaborative ideas began to develop. Their first single release ‘Eye of Horus’ received a huge amount of airplay from many highly regarded artists in the trance scene, including Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren, and since this pivotal moment they have grown to become one of the most successful international duos.
As well as an array of single productions and studio albums, with debut album Rising Sun’ encapsulating the soul-lifting sounds of euphoric trance, Aly and Fila are the innovators beyond the Future Sounds of Egypt brand, established in 2006. This multi-purpose concept, including a record label, radio show and touring events, has helped lead the way in bringing trance to the forefront of the dance music industry, promoting the incredibly talented work of artists and producers across the world, as well as offering aspiring DJs a platform to kick start their careers.
With this, and an impressive back-catalogue of live performances that has taken them to every inch of the globe, including appearances at some of the biggest festivals in the world and regular shows across Ibiza over the summer seasons, it was no surprise that they were named as one of DJ Mag's 20 biggest DJ acts in Electronic Dance Music in 2013, and even since this point they continue to make their mark.
Managing the label ‘FSOE’ whilst trotting all over the globe and producing your signature sound of euphoric trance must keep you very busy. Where do you find the time to unwind with friends and family?
Time is few and far between, it's all about balance. We always try to take a weekend off here and there to spend time with family and friends, and during the week in between shows. The job takes a lot of dedication, a lot of travel and time away from home, but we are very proud and privileged to do the job we do and thankful for the support we receive.
You recently visited Amsterdam, where you played an open to close set at the club Panama. Do you prefer to play longer sets rather than shorter performances?
We like to do both, but longer sets are certainly something we are doing more of since 2016, to build the set up over a longer period of time which also shows a diversity in the set. For the last 11 years we have mainly been known as artists who play one or two hour sets but over last year and a half we have developed a side to us where we really also enjoy playing extended sets, say for four to seven hours where we can build it up. You can hear some of those sets on our Soundcloud page.
What skills do you think developing and established artists can learn from producing remixes of classic anthems? There must be a lot of pressure on you to create a remix that the original composer would be happy with…
A classic is a classic, it's not something we do often. We like to work on our new music to showcase to the world, but clubbers also like to hear a new version of a classic so we are not against it at all, it's cool to hear and there are some good ones around now also. We once did a rework of 'Galaxia' by Ferry Corsten and we played it for a long time in our sets, it always had a good reaction.
2014 was the last time you released a studio album, with The Other Shore receiving great praise. Do you have any plans to release another studio album in the future?
Yes! We are almost finished our new studio album which will be released in 2017. We are very excited for the world to hear our new music. We always feel its important to have artist albums, we have had Rising Sun, Quiet Storm, The Other Shore and now... it's a collective effort of a long period of time in the studio learning and growing together as producers and artists, we have some great vocalists also on the new album and collabs, keep your eyes open for details.
Your Future Sounds of Egypt concept is a really important part part of the trance music movement, including its own label to offer support to trance artists, the dedicated radio show, the release of many incredible compilation albums and touring events. Why did you decide to set up FSOE and did you ever think it would be as successful as it is?
The radio show was born in 2006 and the record label in 2009, was started so we can showcase many talents also worldwide in the world of trance music and today along with our own music. It can also be said that Future Sound of Egypt is diverse with it sounds within the genre. There's four record labels: FSOE for uplifting, FSOE Excelsior for more progressive, FSOE Clandestine for dark and techy sound and FSOE Fables with its pure emotional uplifting sound.
We are very proud of how the brand has grown, it's a lot of hard work from all within our team, and also the artists we have on our labels and on our DJ Agency. We are excited for FSOE 500 celebration this year where we have announced already that we will be back at The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, it's such a magical landmark to host an event.
We are so proud as Egyptians that we can host our celebrations at iconic landmarks in our country, we also did something at the Karnak Temple in Luxor last year, as we are proud to host in any country we do for our celebrations. Also this year we are hosting our own stage at Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium, we are extremely proud and very happy with the line up we have on the stage.
What advice would you give to artists looking to set up their own label and brand?
It's a lot of work, but really worth it. You need to have a team around you that are hard working and dedicated to the brand.
You are back in the UK to headline the iconic ‘Digital Society’ 10th birthday celebrations in Leeds. What can the audience expect to hear and see from you? Is there anyone on the line up you are looking forward to see yourself at the event?
DS was one of the first UK brands that really got behind us back in 2007 when we were playing ‘My House’, credit to the guys the way they have built up the events to where it is today - happy birthday DS. It's hard to say as we see many of the line up often on our touring schedule , we are looking forward to the party for sure.