Creativity in times of COVID-19: Egypt’s Platform opens call to Arab musicians to join a music album

Ati Metwaly , Tuesday 5 May 2020

Supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and spearheaded by Platform, the album 'Music from Here - Special edition' will showcase the creativity of Arab musicians during lockdown


Egypt’s website Nowhere Online Music Platform, simply known as Platform, has announced a call to all Arab musicians – whether residents of an Arab country or beyond the region – to participate in 'Music from Here - Special edition: Time out' music album.

One of the many interesting projects managed by the Platform since its launch in 2014, the new music album aims at showcasing work created by the artists who stay at home while continuing to make music.

According to the announcement, the Platform hopes to “discover musical works produced by Arab musicians and their partners around the world, using different production techniques inside their homes and with different production possibilities. We do not aim to provide musical works that talk directly about the ban or infections or even Covid-19 around the world.”

The aim is to collect productions that see creative technical contribution prompted by the unique time we are going through. Platform adds that the chosen works will be archived for future reference.

“The unusual circumstances we are going through those days directed the musicians to thinking outside the box. They add new layers of creative ideas to their compositions,” founder and manager of Platform, Emad Mabrouk, comments to Ahram Online on the practices pursued by the musicians from their homes or home studios.

“For instance, we see a lot of interesting cooperation: musicians join hands online, defying spatial and even geographical borders, and performing together. There is a lot of creative experimentation going on, on both the musical and technical levels,” Mabrouk notes.

He goes on to point to a variety of tools used by the musicians, most of them being low budget, and allowing them to compose, arrange, record, broadcast or live-stream their work.

The creativity is in fact two-fold, as it applies to music production, as well as creating the visuals should the musician choose a video format. When the latter component is in use, the visuals reach even more creative technical solutions, not only by embellishing the musical representation but also through finding novel visual ways of connecting the performers through the internet. 

As Mabrouk explains, “since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the musicians – and all artists – turned to technology available on hand, inside their homes. While exploring its possibilities they began operating with tools and effects which they might not have even considered prior to the general lockdown.”

Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention.

As is mentioned in the Platform’s call, “This situation called for opening up a greater horizon for artists around the world to test new tools that allow the continuation of the artistic experience through the only safe medium available now, the internet.”

Mabrouk agrees that despite the economic hardships experienced by the whole art scene, “it is a very creative time. In fact, I notice that this unique creativity began appearing as early as the beginning of 2020 and was only emphasised during the lockdown.”

Not only is the ‘Music from Here - Special edition’ album a project that aims to collect interesting musical products created during these times, but it is also an opportunity to document our streams of thought on a creative level, one that was triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

All Arab bands and solo musicians representing all music genres are welcome to apply to be part of the new album.

The applicants can submit their works between 5 May and 5 June through this application form

To read more about the call and how to apply, visit Platform's Facebook Page.

Good quality works will be uploaded on the Platform’s website for everyone to listen to them. In the first selection, 30 tracks chosen based on the highest interaction of the listeners will be announced on 15 June. Final selection will be done by a committee of music specialists, who will choose 10 tracks that will make it to the ‘Music from Here’ album. 

"I'm very happy with the large response we have already received. Even prior to providing links to applications, our announcement was viewed in the tens of thousands and shared abundantly by the musicians and music lovers," Mabrouk concludes with a high dose of optimism, adding that he looks forward to many interesting music works coming from the field.

The 'Music from Here' album project is supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, a body which has already cooperated with Platform in some of their previous musical endeavours.

Founded in 2014 by Emad Mabrouk, the Nowhere Online Music Platform aims to create a central point for all the young and aspiring musical talents. Among their reservoir, we find bands such as Almena, Hawas, and Hageen among other bands which came to light in the past few years.

Platform also collaborates with many well-established musicians. Among other unique activities held by the Platform were online concerts which took place a few years ago, featuring artists such as Shereen Abdo and Nour Ashour, among others.

The initiative was revived by the end of 2019, featuring artists like Adham El-Habashy, Mizology, Ahmed Hamady, and Huda Asfour. As Mabrouk states, the coronavirus lockdown and online concerts came just at the time when the Platform was returning to this practice.

Platform cooperated with Massar Egbari in their live-streamed concert which took place on 24 March. It was the first such performance by an Egyptian band held right after the general lockdown was put in place.

The last few months proved extremely dynamic for Platform and its founder Mabrouk, the fruits of which we are already noticing on the Platform's website.

Originally a filmmaker and film researcher, Mabrouk's portfolio includes working at the Jesuit Cultural Centre in Alexandria and at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina's film department, and he is now focusing on Platform's new projects and the music.

For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture

Short link: