Their average age is 17, and they’re set to be another chapter in the history books of the Manchester music scene. The NME have been lauding them since the dawn of 2010, most recently noting recent single ‘Wild Human Child’ as “a calling card for a whole generation of indie kids that didn’t how much they needed EHH.” High praise indeed, and with this new single out, their debut tour taking place over this week and their college studies coming to a climax, it looks like it’s full steam ahead.
Wait until the summer, just wait, because at every festival the Egyptian Hip-Hop big hair/tie-dye t-shirts combination will be the style of choice for the same people who invested in an MGMT-inspired headband circa 2008. Their individual, almost comic-book look makes them the perfect ying to 2009’s black Mac brigade’s yang. Described as ‘genre-less’ they are in fact indebted to the pioneers of indie pop; early Cure, Talking Heads and ‘Low’-era Bowie . Although this is far from bad, we’ve needed a British band to make weird again the commercialised ‘pop’ genre of recent years. Confident and creative, aspiring and self-aware, EHH seem to be the perfect concoction for a new band.
We talked to front man/singer (in their live shows at least) Alex Hewett about the band, their image and what the future holds for four kids still getting through their A-levels…
Your music has been described as ‘genre-less’, but how do you go about writing ‘genre-less’ music?
The way we tend to go about it is that anything goes pretty much when we’re writing songs. I think some people limit themselves or are afraid to try something different when writing a new song, other bands are afraid to take risks and are afraid of experimenting but with us it’s all about experimenting and trying out new stuff. It just comes naturally, you know?
You’ve been portrayed with a ‘slacker’ image by the press, is this a realistic portrayal of how you are as people?
Not really, we’re not that bad, just like a lot of teenagers I suppose. All we really do is this and college – but we don’t even get that much time to slack around to be honest it’s quite demanding at the moment.
You’re young compared to many people in the music industry, is that playing to your advantage or are you ‘feeling’ being quite young?
It’s really quite weird like I don’t know anyone else our age really doing anything right now. I know a lot of people our age are creative but nobody seems to have the urge like we do I guess. It’s weird because our peers, musically, are all at least twenty years old. We’re at the same stage as some bands quite a few years older than us so it’s quite strange.
You’ve been recording with Sam Dust (Late of the Pier) on production duties and he’s relatively young too in the music industry. Do you like keeping your music being made within your age group?
Not really, we don’t really know anyone that age to be honest… if a producer is good we’ll want to work with him, we don’t discriminate.
It felt like a natural connection between the band and him?
Yeah it really worked out, like he understood a lot of what we thought. Being young and being in a band he knows the way other bands think. I think a lot of other producers forget but Sam definitely had a link, yeah. Similar taste and vision.
You’re heading out on tour tomorrow with Is Tropical [under the Hit Club label name], is this the first time you’ve been out on such an intense tour?
No no, I think the most amount of shows we’ve done is three in a row and they were in London I think. It’ll be interested to try five then, should be fun I think, we won’t let the road get us down or anything.
What are you expecting from going out on tour?
A lot of service stations, I imagine! It’ll be interesting, I’m hoping we get some stories to gain from it, we all know Is Tropical quite well and they’re a funny lot.
On MySpace you only ever really have two tracks up at a time, do you like holding things back a bit?
Well we’re kind of very indecisive with our recordings at the moment, like which songs we like and which songs we don’t. Apart from the new single which is really good I don’t think we’ve done many recordings which justify the actual songs yet. So we can only put up two songs at a time I guess.
Band members switch around with instruments a lot, is band convention something you try and go against?
Yeah, like when we’re playing live Alex will usually drum for every single song because he’s basically the best drummer. We all suck a bit at drums apart from him but when we’re recording he won’t really play the drums because he’s really good at all the instruments we’re good at too. We all just play keys, guitar, anything we’ve got around us really and I don’t think we need strict rules when it comes to writing. Performing is always based on who wrote which part or who is best at playing which part.
How are you taking the attention you’ve received at a national level?
I think it’s really nice that people are enjoying it and that’s brilliant but it’s kind of scary because I know bands that have come and have their time. I don’t really like them but I remember Black Kids and they were much hyped, I think this was 2007 or 2008? I can’t remember but like, where are they now? I just don’t want something like that to happen. I definitely believe our songs our good in some way, well we believe that anyway, and I think we might just be able to back up the hype when there’s more to hear.
You’ve seemed to have popped out of nowhere and released these really bizarre tracks, where can Egyptian Hip-Hop go, how do you think you can evolve?
Well we use quite broken equipment and we just kind of make do with what we find. If we managed to get good instruments and recordings done then we can definitely do much more interesting things. In terms of style and genre I can’t really tell where we’re going to go, like I always just look for a sound that appeals to me, but then a month later I’ll find something new but will keep the old sound underneath it. It’s like a pile of inspirations that just keeps getting bigger and bigger… in a few years we might end up as a really awful band with too many ideas or might keep on getting it right. I don’t know how the others feel about it but we do have quite eclectic tastes…
Do you think you’re a band of your time?
Yeah I guess so, I mean it’s like the start of a new decade, like I can’t even remember what music was like back in 2000, I would’ve been eight I think. I guess at the beginning of this new decade we’re one of the first bands where in our future everything’s going to be digital pretty much.
And off they go, into the sunset on a whirl-wind week. The future’s tie dye bright. The future’s Egyptian Hip-Hop.
Listen to ‘Heavenly’ by Egyptian Hip-Hop here…
Words by Nicholas Burman, Same Teens
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Egyptian Hip-Hop’s debut single is out now featuring the tracks Heavenly and Hazel Groove. They’re also playing gigs around the country, stopping off at Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and are supporting Delphic at a NME Awards Gig in London at the end of February.
Egyptian Hip-Hop: Hot or Not?