Nadah El Shazly is an experimental Egyptian singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Her work both radically reinvents the popular music of her homeland from the early 20th century and explores new sonic and harmonic frontiers.
As a pre-schooler, El Shazly began taking piano lessons and studying music at the insistence of her mother — a non-musician. In addition, she also undertook soprano vocal training. At 17, she fronted the group Sick Gdrch, a punk band who specialized in covers by the Misfits. In 2009, refusing to be bound by a single genre, El Shazly pursued — and landed — a gig as a singer in jazz covers band at a Cairo hotel. Before long, however, she made her first concentrated efforts at electronica with Shorba, a short-lived but beloved cult band. She took part in many projects on Egypt’s tight-knit but endlessly creative indie scene, where its musicians, regardless of genre, influenced one another. El Shazly began making a name for herself with her electronic productions. In late 2015, she began working on her debut album. She produced the date herself and enlisted keyboardist/guitarist Maurice Louca (of indie music supergroup Lekhfa) and Sam Shalabi, two-thirds of the Dwarfs of East Agouza (third member Alan Bishop did not appear on the LP). Recorded in Egypt and Montreal (with engineer Thierry Amar of Godspeed You! Black Emperor), the album was comprised of five originals and a radically re-envisioned cover of Sayyid Darwish’s 1940s pop standard “Ana ‘Ishiqt (I Once Loved)”; the set was completed with a large cast of reed, woodwind, string, and percussion players. It was self-released as Ahwar in November of 2017, and received universal acclaim from the press; it also made numerous year-end best-of lists.