In a room in Cairo's newly opened Garden City art space, 'Room
', independent Palestinian, Egypt-based musician, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh tells a small audience of artists and members of the press the story of Eka3 and the launch of its new baby Al-Moharek (The Mover).
Founded in 2007 as a reaction to the growing movement of independent Arab music in the region, Eka3 aimed to fill the market void of independent music. The company – which was founded by Abu Ghazaleh – was meant to support artists to establish themselves in the market as well as sustain themselves financially through their art by taking on marketing responsibilities and booking shows.
Currently Al-Moharek – a booking agency specialised for independent artists – includes under its umbrella acts such as Like Jelly, Darwasha, Maryam Saleh's solo project, Duo Maryam Saleh and Zeid Hemdan, Duo Maii Waleed and Zeid Hemdan, Jawhar, Kamilya Jubran, Sarah Murcia, Telepoetic, Saleh and Minyawy and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh.
Previously Eka3 has worked with artists and projects such as Kareim Abo Reida, Bikya, The Choir Project and Jadal. Eka3 was in charge of booking live acts for Bassem Youssef’s popular television satire show by El-Bernameg. The company has also partnered with a number of festivals and platforms to feature the artists.
Abu Ghazaleh believes that one day the music we dub as “independent” could be just as accessible to the public as the so called “mainstream” music which many view as over-produced and industrialised. However, this cannot happen by only having talented musicians on the scene, but an entire market and industry will have to exist around them to help them reach a wider audience.
Ahram Online interviewed Abu Ghazaleh to find out more regarding Eka3's plan for Al-Moharek and the independent music scene.
Ahram Online (AO): What kind of independent music environment existed in 2007 that pushed you to establish Eka3?
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (TA): For many years back and to date, there has been and is still a huge gap between what the Arabic music culture has to say, and what the Arabic music market and governmental institutions are doing to answer to that. Eka3 was founded to be an active part of the many organizations, projects, and initiatives that are needed to fill such a gap. Our vision is that quality music shall become a major part of the Arabic mainstream sooner or later. Our mission is to be part of making this happen sooner, rather than later.
AO: How do you think Eka3 contributed to developing the music scene until now?
TA: Since 2007, we have been searching for missing market needs, and trying to fulfill such needs by different models of work; including production, distribution, event production and management, artist booking and touring, and licensing/publishing, working on a regional level and starting off with teams in each of Cairo, Beirut, and Amman.
AO: What kind of events or concerts has Eka3 managed to secure for the assigned artists? Could you provide examples?
TA: We are proud - and very lucky - to have worked with many great artists in the region. Some examples of our previous bookings include Aziz Maraka's premiere shows in Madrid and Barcelona; Jadal's premiere in Cairo and Alexandria; Kamilya Jubran's premiere in Beirut; Maryam Saleh's premieres in Ramallah, Nablus, and Carthage; Khyam Allami's premieres in Oslo, Stockholm, Malmo, and Copenhagen; Mashrou3 Leila's premiere show in Amman, among other bookings.
AO: What pushed the idea of creating four separate branches of Eka3?
TA: Given that we work on building different working models in the music business, and that we are aiming to build more models whenever we find a crucial gap in the market; and given that each model of work relates to different artists and different partners, we came to realize that Eka3 is not a company with one purpose, in reality; it is a platform and an incubator of ideas and models that all serve one vision. Therefore, separating each of our models under a dedicated name helps clarify that model's role, and more importantly, helps Eka3 as a platform in finding more needs in the market and trying to answer to them, whether solely or in partnership with entrepreneurs.
AO: What criteria exists for an artist to be part of Al-Moharek?
TA: The ideal criteria are original vocal music with genuine Arabic sound, strong performance, serious management, and a culture of goodwill and transparency.
AO: What are the coming plans for Al-Moharek and the launch of the coming parts of Eka3?
TA: At Al-Moharek we are currently expanding our reach to be able to book our represented artists at wider geographies, including North Africa, the Arab Gulf, and more European cities. In attempt to make this happen on a wide scale, we have initiated an agent program where trusted individuals and companies that work in the events and touring fields in different cities of the world are able to officially represent our artists and help us spread their works in each of their countries' markets; therefore creating a network of agents across the world empowering our artist roster's opportunities.
Regarding the rest of Eka3's properties, we have launched Ma3azef.com back in December 2012 in partnership with Ahmed Zaatari and Maan AbuTaleb. Ma3azef.com is a specialized music critique e-magazine; created in belief that critique is something that must exist in a healthy eco-system, and one that was – thus far – lacking.
In the coming months we will be announcing more news related to other properties, namely Awyav, the agency for content makers; and Mostakell, the music label.