Back in 2015, Cairokee surprised their audience with their wild card, Abdelrahman Roshdy, in the SoundClash event. Shaky hands, and scattered thoughts were all Abdelrahman Roshdy, 25, could think of as Adam El Alfy of Cairokee introduced him. Roshdy has been ever-present in the music scene since then, that’s why his success story could not have remained unshared. He studied Marketing at BUE, and works in his family’s water treatment company. In addition, he’s a partner in a media production company and used to work as a part-timer in an HR company. Now, where did the musical side come from? We’ll take you on an inspiring walk through Roshdy’s life ever since he discovered his talent. So, buckle up!
How did you meet Cairokee?
After the revolution, I fell in love with Cairokee and their music, I was obsessed with them, and with Zap Tharwat. I wrote their names in a notebook of mine, and said that one day, I’ll meet them and do a song with them. I didn’t know them by that time, but I used to see Amir walking in the street, and I’d stop him to tell him that I write songs, and that I want to get to know him, and he would ignore me *laughs*.
Time passed by, and I never sang except in my room. I did a song in 2012 for a friend’s project – which was a music video - and it turned out really good, then I didn’t do anything. But still, I always had the thought of meeting Cairokee in mind.
In July 2014, I became friends with someone from Maadi, and he used to hear me sing. By total coincidence, I discovered that this guy is Amir Eid’s friend. I told him that he had to introduce me to them. Months passed and I never met them. I almost lost hope, and I decided that I should seriously start singing, try it out on my own, and see how it goes.
On a random day, Amir’s friend was playing some of my songs in his car, and Hawary, a member of Cairokee, was standing at a kiosk near the car. They greeted each other, then Hawary asked who was singing these songs. Amir’s friend told him about me, and about how I’ve been wanting to meet them. Hawary bought a pen from the kiosk and wrote my name on his hand, and told him to call me! So he did, and he asked me to come over!
I went and finally met up with Amir! He heard me sing, and said, “look, we’re working on an album, and we’ll let you do a song with us.” Following that day, I kept calling them over and over, but they would not respond. After I released Ghofranak, I sent it to Amir, and he didn’t reply.
Then I found Amir’s friend calling me saying, “Cairokee will be shooting an episode of Microphone with Yusra El Lozy, and they told me to tell you to go with them.” Me? Shoot? I did not process the phone call, until I actually went. Keep in mind that I had never been on stage before that day, neither had I attended a shoot in my life!
As soon as I walked in, Amir introduced me, and Adam was like, “is he the sound engineer?” and to his surprise, I was the one performing with them that day. Days would pass, and I discovered that the program got postponed to the following year!
On February 2, 2015, I found Amir replying to that message I sent to him about Ghofranak, and he even shared it on his page, and on Cairokee’s page. I was on cloud nine! I still have the screenshot. It was one of the best days of my life!
After a while, I met Cairokee in Maadi, and they said, “we have a SoundClash, we’ll get you a ticket.” Then I found Hady, Cairokee’s manager, calling me to ask if I have a Sufi musician’s number. I said no, and that was when he told me that they wanted him as a wild card in the SoundClash. I hung up and prayed to god, “If it was for my benefit, I want to be the one performing in this SoundClash.” I kept it as a prayer, and never told them about it.
I didn’t know how to write songs back then, but a friend of my dad, who’s a Sufist, introduced me to his son who I only met once. He told me, “choose a topic, and start talking about it using your own words.” I came back home, and the first thing I wrote was “Ya Rouh” (oh, soul), I wrote the song, and never saw this man again.
Months later, Hady, Cairokee’s manager, called me, and told me to go to their studio right away! I entered the studio, and found Hady displaying photos from SoundClash, and he was like, “do you see these people?” and he started explaining what a SoundClash is, and I had no idea why he was doing that. He said, “Abdelrahman, you’ll be the one performing with us!” I told him that I had never done a concert in my life, and had no idea what it feels like. I’d never even went as an attendee. I was terrified! I even thought of saying no, but I held it together, and went for it!
I started rehearsing songs, and they wouldn’t like them. At some point I was like, “I have this song called Ya Rouh, but it’s very complicated and nobody would get it.” They heard me sing it, and were like, “this is it!” We proceeded with this song, and we rehearsed almost every day. I spent so much time with Cairokee, and saw them in their best and worst – which is something I never thought would happen! I also met Zap, and we clicked on the spot. Nobody knew me at the time.
The BIG day was there. I had told nobody about me performing. My friends were at the SoundClash, and they asked me to join, but I said that I was busy. I wanted people to be as surprised as I was. Before the concert, Amir sat with me and told me some of the most encouraging words ever! He told me to stay alone backstage, eating and relaxing. But of course, as soon as they walked on the stage, I followed them, and kept watching the audience – who were thousands! I told myself, “look Abdelrahman, this is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime, use it. Everything you wished for is here, it’s your turn now!”
“Abdelrahman Roshdy!” Adam said, and people were only clapping because they had to. I just said “Ya Rouh,” and the crowd went crazy! I kept my eyes shut, imagined that that I’m in my room like Amir told me. My world has been completely shifted ever since then!
The next day I woke up to find several magazines and newspapers writing about me. Reem El Waziry, Cairokee’s manager at the time, kept sending me everything, and it was unbelievable! People started recognizing me in the streets, stopping me and taking photos. It was then that I started getting known in the music scene.
What happened after you got that exposure?
After the SoundClash, Zap sent me a picture of him with Mostafa Hosny, saying that he has heard my song, and wanted to work with me! He told me about his show for Ramadan 2015, and that he wanted me to do a song every episode, and I was like, let’s go!
Nobody knew as well that I was working with Mostafa Hosny, except my family. I kept it a secret until I posted a photo with him.
In mid Ramadan, Nesma El Shazly, Hisham Kharma’s manager, called and said that Kharma wants to meet me. Kharma had attended the SoundClash as well. He’s one of the best artists in Egypt, in my opinion. He introduced me to a lot of people in the media field, and has given me an incredible push.
We met, talked about his music, and suggested a collaboration in upcoming concerts. After a while, we worked on Sahla w Baseeta.
What were the highlights of your 2016?
I decided I should do a song “Kol El Qoloob” I also appeared in several Kharma concerts, Cairokee’s anniversary, and Amr Adib’s show.
How has 2017 been so far?
This year, I did a project with Kharma called Fel Malaqot. I’m also trying to work on an album now. It talks about a variety of topics including love. But the kind of love that is so precious, so deep and soulful. It’s about life’s cycle, without anything religion-related, yet the listener would relate what’s being said to God. There’s also a surprise on the first of May!
Why did you choose Sufi music?
I have a problem with religious speech in Egypt; the way individuals talk about religion. I was a normal teenager who used to hang out next to a kiosk, and never liked how people stereotype those who choose not to drink or so. I used to love the type of music that’s played in clubs, but I did not like the atmosphere. So, I thought, how can I take this type of music and make them listen to it using other words, so they would not feel like drinking or dancing? I decided I wanted to take the genre of music I love, and add lyrics about God, so that it would reach every person in their own way. I wanted to reach each person using their mindset, not mine. I’m not a sheikh, nor am I a religious figure, but people stereotype me because of the genre I am into.
What’s your dream?
My dream is to produce songs where I’m not the singer nor the sheikh. I want my songs to reach a person’s soul. I hope one day I will be able to speak about God in an indirect manner, but people would understand that God is there in the song.
What do you want to tell people?
I strongly believe, that if you believe in your goals, you will accomplish them. There are three things that I believe in: God, my dreams, and myself.