INTERVIEW: Five songs, five colours - Dina El-Wedidi on new album Khamas Fosoul

Lamiaa Alsadaty, Wednesday 21 Jun 2023

Egyptian renowned singer and songwriter discusses her latest EP, Khamas Fosoul (Five Seasons), available on music streaming platforms.

Dina El Wedidi


On April 27, 2023, El-Wedidi released an EP titled Khamas Fossoul (Five Seasons) after a five-year hiatus. The album features a blend of acoustic instruments and electronic sounds, with five new songs showcasing a variety of rhythms and El-Wedidi's soft vocals.

“I started preparing this album during the coronavirus crisis. I was inspired by the different emotions I had experienced, and I tried to convey them through the lyrics and the melodies,” El-Wedidi revealed to Al-Ahram Hebdo. 

“These emotions vary between bewilderment, abandonment, hope and gratitude. Each song carries the personification of a very special feeling and situation, as if it were a chapter of life, hence the choice of the title Five Seasons.”

Five songs, five styles


The composer, songwriter and producer explore five different styles in their new EP.

Tab Eh? (And then?) is a song with lyrics by Nabeel Abdel Hameed, music by El-Wedidi and arrangement by Kareem Hossam. The swing in the song is reminiscent of the Jump bands of the 1940s.

Using only a keyboard, guitar and synthesizer, the composition blends binary and ternary rhythms to evoke the theme of separation and the unjustified departure of a loved one.

El-Wedidi alternates between strength and weakness in the song, highlighted by the lyrics while moving between rhythmic formulas.

The song Balaleen (Balloons), with lyrics by Ahmed Abdel Khaliq and music arranged by Rami Attallah, relies on polyrhythm.

The song Balaleen also goes beyond percussion, with various instruments creating interesting accents through superimposed rhythms. El-Wedidi's perplexity in the lyrics is highlighted by the piano's solo prelude and vocals. The introduction of other instruments, like the oud (oriental lute), bass guitar, and synthesizer, creates a shift towards a new rhythm.

Washwesh Elwadaa (Whisper to the Shell) is a mono-rhythmic composition with lyrics by Amr Nour and El-Wedidi, composed by the latter and arranged by Maher Elmallakh, who also plays the guitar on the track. It blends phrases from the Coptic spiritual repertoire with slow rock tunes.

In El-Magd (Glory), El-Wedidi employs the Rast maqam (Arabic scale) to avoid being entirely jazzy. The song features intensive use of the qanun, oud, and percussion, along with a keyboard, synthesizer, and guitar for a joyful and dynamic feel. El-Wedidi wrote the music, while Nada Elshabrawy penned the lyrics.

The fifth song on the EP, Metgharbeen (Alienated), is a blend of Nubian and Shaabi musical styles with lyrics by Elshabrawy, music by El-Wedidi, and arrangement by Wael Elsayed. The use of the pentatonic scale in the song adds a fresh dimension to the album.

“I like rhythmic melodic schools in music, and this is made clear in particular by the three songs: El-Magd, Metgharbeen and Balaleen. I mainly chose sounds that I like and I want to highlight,” the singer, songwriter explains.

Going against the tide



El-Wedidi's unique singing style sets her apart from mainstream pop and appeals to a specific audience.

“I have always tried to interpret different genres. Indeed, the public has continued to increase over time, and to express its support. It must be said, moreover, that today the listeners have become more open than the artists themselves. With the development of the digital music industry, every day, people hear different genres. With my music, I want to reach as many listeners as possible, and I think that's every artist's dream,” El-Wedidi adds.

Undoubtedly, Khamas Fossoul is a new musical adventure for Egypt's independent musician, who has made a significant impact over the past two decades.

The EP reflects El-Wedidi's emotions from the past two years, which she expresses with great conviction. Her rich career experiences have led her to a new, exciting stage of creativity.

“Each album has a soul and represents a phase in my career. Besides, I always find that it's the stories behind each album that turn out to be more interesting than the album itself. I present different stories and I expose new feelings. I think it's the most emotional album I've made, both in its preparatory phase and in its execution." El-Wedidi draws on Egyptian folk music, inspired by her early collaborations with the theatrical troupe El-Warsha and the musical group Habayebna, as she explains.

El-Wedidi blends folklore with experimentation to create music that is both familiar and relevant to Egyptians while expressing her own artistic views and leaving a personal imprint.


The many adventures



El-Wedidi unlocked the full potential of her voice by participating in workshops with independent musicians in Egypt and abroad, including Egyptian composer Fathy Salama and Palestinian singer-songwriter Kamilya Jubran.

El-Wedidi began her professional career in Egypt's independent music scene with the release of her first album, Manam (Sleep), an intriguing electronic experimental experience, in 2011.

Being both a composer and songwriter sets El-Wedidi apart from other singers in the music scene. She acknowledges that choosing the right team can be tricky.

“In Khamas Fossoul, I had the chance to work with a very special team. Everyone has his unique talent and personality. I worked with five distributors (Rami Attallah, Kareem Hossam, Maher Elmallakh, Wael Elsayed, Fadi Badr) and with four poets/lyricists (Nada Elshabrawy, Amr Nour, Ahmed Abdel Khaliq and Nabeel Abdel Hameed). And as a lyricist, I collaborated with Amr Nour and Ahmed Abdel Khaliq. Each of them gave something of themselves, through lyrics and arrangements,” she reveals. 

“I think that working as a producer was my biggest challenge in this album. I had to bring together the whole team with members not knowing each other beforehand, and make sure that the album has a uniform soul, even if each song represents a different style in its melodies and lyrics. It was not an easy task. But, fortunately, the songs were well received by the listeners, a fact that comforted me a lot,” she concludes.

Khamas Fosoul boasts renowned Egyptian instrumentalists, including Rami Attallah on piano and synth, Ousso Lotfy and Mohamed Adel on guitar, Wael ElSayed on accordion, Sherif Alaa on electric guitar, Seka on bass guitar, Huda Asfour and Mohamed Abo Zekry on oud, Fady Badr on qanun, keyboard, and synth, Kareem Hossam on bass guitar and synth, Abdelazeem Barhoma on percussion, and Mostafa ElKerdany on drums.


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