woensdag 1 september 2021

Interview met MAGENTA

De synthwave scène in Egypte is jong en in volle bloei. Eén van de muzikanten die zijn eigen weg daarin beloopt en met minimale middelen aan nieuwe muziek werkt is Muhammad Ibrahim (met als artiestennaam Seniorpopx), lead vocalist van het synthwave duo MAGENTA. Voor mij is dit een heel bijzonder interview en ik heb ontzettend veel respect voor het enthousiasme, de creativiteit en doorzettingsvermogen van muzikanten als Muhammad die als echte pioniers helpen het synthwave geluid op hun continent groter te maken.

The synthwave scene in Egypt is young and in full bloom. One of the musicians who goes his own way and works on new music with minimal resources is Muhammad Ibrahim (also known as Seniorpopx), lead vocalist of the synthwave duo MAGENTA. For me this is a very special interview and I have a lot of respect for the enthusiasm, creativity and perseverance of musicians like Muhammad who, as true pioneers, help to make the synthwave sound bigger on their continent.


Muhammad, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Muhammed Ibrahim. I’m a singer/songwriter and the lead vocalist of the musical duo MAGENTA, from Egypt. I worked with dozens of underground bands/dj´s and producers mainly on online music collaboration websites like Kompoz and Procollabs for 6 years now. I’ve been writing songs since I was 13. I came up with my stage name Seniorpopx when I saw Lady Gaga for the first time and I knew I had to come up with a good stage name that reflects my personality. Something artistic yet so strong, and I think Seniorpopx represents me very well.

How did you discover synthwave?
I’ve been following retro inspired music since early days, because I’ve been very fond of the 80´s music scene. I’ve been introduced to 80´s icons like Madonna and Michael Jackson at a very young age because my family loved pop music. So I took it from there and I started digging, but honestly I hadn’t fully discovered synthwave until I saw the name on one of the Spotify playlists, somewhere in 2018, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a big world and I’m so happy to be a part of this big big scene. It’s so inspiring and it has a lot of insane energy that keeps me going. It’s so retro yet so modern and futuristic at the same time. And that’s what I love about synthwave.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing your songs?
Honestly from everything, like movies, songs, tv shows, places, life experiences, chatting with friends, discovering new genres and new artists. But the reason that synthwave standouts is that you don’t have to be so serious, like you can sit in your room for weeks with nothing going on in your life and you can write thousands of good synthwave hits, only if you can play with your imagination and put some good 80´s references,then you’re good to go. I like to let my mind go wild during the writing process, but that doesn’t make me hate the reality or less exciting cause I like to stay in my room. There are a lot of good synthwave songs out there that helped me to get to know myself better. I think synthwave works for me cause I’m kind of an imaginative guy...I like to conjure images inside my head and keep them as frames.

What equipment do you use in your studio?
Since I’m working from home, particularly in my room, I don’t have a lot of equipment to talk about. There's minimal equipment which is my phone to record vocal takes, sound monitor on the Voloco app, DAW´s like mixcraft for mastering, Bandlab or Soundtrap for mixing and doing vocals filtration and putting vocal effects. That´s mostly handled by my musical partner Badring. While the beats are usually free type beats from YouTube. So it’s very DIY quality.

Can you share some of your plans for the (near) future?
Build my home studio and put out new materials with a better quality obviously. Collaborate with musicians from the synthwave music scene...I’m also working on my musical side project which is very very different from MAGENTA. It’s very dark and has a lot of coldwave and post-punk influences. I put the first song on my YouTube channel last month and it’s called Summer Blues. I’m aiming to pay a visit to Italy just to witness the synthwave music scene with my own eyes. I think it’s a dream yet needs to come true and absolutely it’s not that kind of a plan that I’m going to achieve in near future, but who knows...

In my interviews I always ask the artist/producer if they can describe the synthwave scene in their country or city. So for you ;-), what are your thoughts on the synthwave scene in Egypt?
Synthwave is very underrated here in Egypt. I think it's because of cultural differences. We have a very unique music style that I think it’s not for everyone outside the region, but we’re still open for different genres. Here bigger artists begin to adopt elements from trap and house music scene for their music in a more appealing approach to the younger audience who took the shaby or as we call it شعبي and underground music as their mainstream music. In the last few years, I noticed a shift in direction inside the Egyptian underground music scene, especially after the release of one of my favorite releases last year: After Hours by The Weeknd. He has a big fan base here in Egypt since his debut and when he introduced synthwave music to the general public, we saw few releases that I consider very inspired by synthwave like Egypt-based duo Wolf Fang Midi, machine.condition, Alexis Reel, Hesh Gohar and Badring which is very cool. The community is growing here and each day, a new fan or even a musician joins us. I think it’s the start of something big.

What are your musical influences?
There are so many influences that I think I won’t be able to mention them all right now, but inside the synthwave music scene there’s Jessie Frye, The Midnight and Trevor Something, I also enjoy listening to Thought Beings. From the 80´s era, there’s Madonna which is one of my biggest influences ever followed by Kim Wilde, The Cure, Modern Talking, Sandra, Alphaville and Kylie Minogue. bI think my biggest influence comes from Marina and the Diamonds and Lady Gaga which is a weird flex, but I did learn how to write songs reading their songs and listening to their albums night and day which is heavily inspired by 80s music btw. So I can craft my own art and be a pop star like them, and sonically I’m very influenced by charli xcx. I like what she does with her vision and her sound. It’s mind blowing, and the way she balances the melancholy and dancy beats gives me goosebumps. I think she has a lot in common with us synthwave musicians. Also, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kim Petras, Osvaldo Supino, Dorian Electra, Shura, Lana Del Rey and the 1975 are some of my current influences.

When you are not working on music, what other passions do you have?
Watching movies/TV shows, working on my debut script. Reading books, listening to music and when I’m out I like taking photos. It’s like my new hobby now.

Talking about movies from the 80´s. What are your favorites?
When it comes to 80´s movies, slasher movies are the best. Like I'm so obsessed with the Giallo movie scene such as Inferno, Opera and the list goes on. Also mystery-thriller Possession 1981 , Summer School and the Chucky movies are some of my faves.

People listen to music on radio, television, vinyl, cassettes, CDs and now mostly via streaming platforms. How do you think we will ¨consume¨ our music in the next twenty years?
I think people are leaning towards streaming platforms cause it’s easy to use and you can access to millions of music libraries with one click. Personally when I want to discover new music, I go to Spotify immediately and start digging. I think without spotify, I’d have missed a lot of great artists and new genres that we don’t get to hear on radio, cause it’s not radio friendly or not appealing to the generic public, so I think streaming platforms are not going anywhere for a long time. I also think vinyl are trendy these days which is good to see, so maybe we’ll see a cassette revival in the next few years.

Thank you very much for this interview! Do you have any last words to the synthwave community?
Thanks for having me. I’ve had a great time talking to you. It’s such an honor to be a part of something so big that feels like home, and synthwave has been a very sweet loving home for two years now. Can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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