Montreal-based Egyptian musician Cherine Amr searches for identity in 'Estena'

Ati Metwaly , Saturday 14 Aug 2021

Estena is released in collaboration with Quebec producer Game Genie Sokolov


Canada-based Egyptian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Cherine Amr — known as Cheen — has released a new track titled Estana (Wait For Me).

With lyrics in French and a chorus in Arabic, the song is Cheen's "reflection toward immigration," she said, adding "[It is] the continuous battle between celebrating personal identities and letting go of the past by assimilating into a new culture."

This "battle of identities" is one of the main themes explored by Cheen over the past several years, which has been driven by her relocation to Canada in 2015 following a thriving career in Egypt, especially with her all-girl metal band Massive Scar Era (founded with Nancy Mounir), also known as Mascara.

Searching for self was evident in Cheen's song Esmi, released in May 2020. In Esmi (My Name), the singer searches for her place, for her own name; in the video she is shown walking across an Egyptian farm.

Commenting on the new release, Cheen says: "How can I blossom in a new environment that doesn't really appreciate my roots, yet I keep seeking safety within its borders? The many layers of safety vs the multiple layers of passive-aggressiveness embedded in the Canadian society. I see the children of the Egyptian diaspora, and I am amazed by their comfort with the intersectional identity and feel conflicted about it at the same time because I'm nowhere close. Welcome to the journey!"

It is this search for identity that has become Cheen's creative motor, one that is not only expressed through lyrics, but which is also evident in her never-ending meander across many musical genres.

The new song Estena is a typical pop composition, resonating with the 1980s, and topped with electronic sounds: from the retrowave to more contemporary musical lexis. For a musician who started in metal and moved through a different musical genres (always including electronic component into them), classical pop adds yet another unique feel to her two-decade-long repertoire.

Estena is available on digital streaming platforms such as: Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Deezer.

Cheen has been active as a musician since 2004, when she had already been writing her own songs. She was the first female musician to form a metal band in Egypt, Massive Scar Era (Mascara).

Then came Ahmad Abdalla’s multi award-winning film Microphone (2010) starring Khaled Abu El-Naga, Menna Shalaby, and Youssra El-Lozi, in which the director featured one of Cheen’s solo pop-rock songs titled ‘Abaad Makan’ (The Furthest Place).

In 2012, Mascara released an EP titled ‘Comes Around You’, and their well-known single ‘My Ground’ came out a year later. Her other projects include forming a solo band (Cheen) and releasing an album titled ‘Alam Tany’ (Another World).

In 2015, Cheen moved to Canada, where she started gaining a new audience while continuing to perform in Egypt occasionally. Among her most recent appearances was at the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in April 2019, where Massive Scar Era took the stage of the Greek Campus in a concert showcasing female musicians.

She also paid a short visit to Egypt in March 2020 and worked on a music video for her single ‘Esmi’, the first track in a series of five released in April of the same year by Universal Music MENA record label.

In March this year, she released 'Kol Shi' (Everything) in collaboration with Canadian producer La Machine à Mixer

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