Interview with Nader Sadek
When did you first move to America from Egypt?
It was 2000, I moved to Minneapolis to attend college. After I graduated I moved to NYC, I stayed there for about 10 years.
Where do you live now and is it possible for you to make a full-time living creating your art? If not, would you share what your other career is?
I live in Cairo again, I wouldn’t be able to make a living off my art had I continued to live in NYC, when I was there I had some side jobs, doing graphic design and Prop fabrication for everything from movies to store-front props. So always art-related work. Now that I’m Cairo, and the currency is so much weaker here, I’m far more comfortable, mostly focusing on my artwork and selling it abroad.
Tell us about your work as tireless champion and promoter of Metal around the world!
Thanks for your kind words. I don’t see myself as that, but I feel that as a passionate artist, it is not just my right but also my duty to spread all arts. Metals characteristics embody this rebellious and powerful message, especially in the more underground sub genre of this style. There is no limit in what can be done with the music. Which is why I felt that it was appropriate to start this project. It’s not a band; it’s more like an art-producing organism, constantly morphing, changing, but always producing. For this reason its very important that I bring talented musicians form all over the world, people from different backgrounds and cultures to converge and collaborate. This has many benefits, what I believe is one of the biggest benefits is that you get a highly “potent” and cultured metal output. You bring a black metal guitarist form Norway to collaborate with a tech-death bassist from Montreal and an American drummer from one of the heaviest bands around, and you can already imagine that it can be something amazing. However, there is an art in that too, because it can quickly become a nightmare if they don’t respect/agree with each other, and I have to kind of find the balancing point, to make it happen. Luckily it’s never come to that musically. Personally though I wish I could say the same. You deal with characters as well, some with tempers, some with money management issues and so on. So its not as glamorous as it seems, there is alot going on behind the scenes that most people wouldn’t dare imagine. The project started with Alex Skolnick from Testament, who at the time was deep into his Jazz trio, Steve Tucker was out of Morbid Angel at the time, and I was able to get Trym from Emperor and Ralph Santolla, then Deicide guitarist into the fold. In the meantime I had been introduced to Attila form Mayhem, who quickly commissioned me to make him some masks. It was a very exciting time for me. I’m proud to say that since then, I’ve been working with some of my favorite musicians whom I grew up listening to.
It’s important giving the opportunity to more unknown artists such the amazing genius Jim Ross, of Bandwhore and Richie Brown who was in an early incarnation of Trivium, but has an amazing band called Mindscar.
Additionally, I organize shows, direct music videos and make masks/costumes. The thing about all this though, is that I don’t see it, as a single process. For me its all art, and that is what I like to occupy my time with.
You are very well known on the international Metal scene. How have you gathered so much talent for your projects?
I’m always surprised to hear that, thanks again. Most artists I’ve approached are quite intrigued by the project, It actually started out in an art gallery, it was not a metal band, it was a project about perception of the peripheral, and eventually a museum in New York picked up on it and funded me, and asked me to make a performance- I think many people and the artists I chose sense the rigor of it, and that’s its a fresh idea and as a curator, combining different artists together they’re offered a window into making a mark in something special and unique. This is not to take away from their own projects, which are all great, and is the reason
I chose them to begin with. But this is different, in that it’s not a typical ‘band’; in fact it’s not a band at all. One of the good things is that there are “no members” nobody is in or out. Each show, tour, festival appearance record or even sometimes a song on the same album will have a different line up.
Tell us about your connections with Mayhem. Will you be touring North America with them for their 2017 De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas tour?
Attila and I have been friends since we partied together sometime in 2006 I believe, I told him I could make a mold of his face, something I had been doing for years, which is making a mold, and then making face cast out of it. He loved the idea and told me that he’s wanted to wear masks, so we decided ill make him a mask. I made it, and sent it to him.
When he received it he sent me an email telling me to make him 10 more. He used the masks with Sunn O))) first, then Mayhem. Eventually, he got me to do full stage design for Mayhems 2009 US tour, the first US tour they made with him, and it was a mind blowing honor of course. My very first tour, and I get to stay in a really nice tour bus with my favorite black metal band.
I made a lot of new friends, but honestly if they asked me to do it now, I’d have to think about it. It’s safe to say that really weird things happen around them, like some kind of curse. Everyday there was some kind of issue; their next US tour was cancelled a few weeks before it was scheduled, and the tour after that, I was told had even bigger problems then the one I was on. They’ve tour the US twice since then; I don’t know how well they went, but I’d think twice, because, man, it was insane to see the kind of BS they had to deal with on a daily basis and despite having a ton of fun, and the overall experience was amazing. I think it’s the kind of thing you only want to do once to keep the memories nice and clean.
I understand you are still a leader in the Egyptian Metal scene. I understand it is very complicated politically, and socially but could you give us a brief over-view of the type of scene and climate for Metal in Egypt?
Thank you, that’s quite flattering to be given that moniker. Its safe to say that I’ve networked and made connections with the industry more than anyone else probably in all of the middle east and Africa, I’m proud to have done things that others have tried and failed at. If it wasn’t for the jealousy of others Egyptians would be an established “market” and bands would be coming to Egypt on a monthly basis. I’m sorry to all Egyptians who will never be able to leave the country, that due to insecurity and infantile behavior of others, it wont be possible.
I personally don’t blame the government, I know for a fact that problems where instigated by a few simpleminded cowards in the metal scene. And all it takes is one asshole to ruin everything. I’ve been lucky enough to survive the idiocy of several of those assholes.
The scene is unfortunately quite polarized; you have people from all walks of life attending the shows. I’d say metal shows is probably the only place where there’s a true amalgamation of all social classes but they’re in a problem is presented. The fans don’t like each other. I get requests to do shows at nicer venues than this one venue whose owner is a Muslim Brotherhood member (a terrorist sympathizing organization). When I had done these two first shows, I had no idea about the owner, but when I found out, I immediately donated all my income from the show to an orphanage, it was my way of finding a balance. I also looked elsewhere to do the shows, a bar that allows alcohol and smoking cigarettes, and where people of opposite sex can hold hands, none of these things are Illegal, but somehow combine that with metal, and people will think your making an evil ritual. Go figure.
But the scene is also again a reflection of the society, conditioned, confused and self-destructive. Education is scarce and people’s insecurity gets the better of them. No one thinks about the greater whole, just thinking small scale, selfish and what would benefit him or her. So if they see someone rise, they don’t understand that they will rise too, they don’t have that kind of foresight.
I believe the current regime in Egypt is not tolerant of Heavy Metal. Do you ever fear for your life or safety, or for those of your friends?
Oh its tolerant, the problem is not the government (other than that its run by ignorant people) but in general they don’t actually care, here are definitely huge issues the government needs to fix, the problem is the previously mentioned infantile “competition” I have here. Another issue is ignorance, which runs rampant, So one of those musicians called the musicians Syndicate , who is another corrupt figure in Egypt, went and turned the whole thing political. And let me Quote home land security here form what they’ve said: “Metal is not the problem its the extreme Muslim media that’s the problem, and they put pressure on us.” This massive backward pop star and head of musicians syndicate, Said that he cancelled my show, which was attended by devil worshippers wearing the Star of David (?), that there was a DJ from Qatar present ( lol ) and that rituals were performed. He wanted to make this political, using keywords, like Qatar and Star of David; those are things, which Egyptians have political issues with. Of course the tabloid and non intellectual media had their day with it, but surprisingly the intellectual media defended the show, and the pressure was so high on that pop star/head of syndicate guy, that he announced that he would “submit his resignation”. Of course it was just he doing that so he can get all his buddies to protest his resignation. Like I said everything is a scam and everything is corrupted.
Is it true that you were in some ways involved with the aborted Sepultura concert in Cairo this June? The press release blamed you but I would like to hear your side of the story! As Metalheads we can suspect that formal statements that come from the government may not be complete true. Is it true you were arrested and interrogated?
The show was my idea, my connections with Andreas of Sepultura (he plays solos on my record Malefic Chapter 3) was how I was able to get them, they were impressed with the fact that I had brought bands like Aborted etc to Egypt. The guy who wrote this press release is a government lackey as you suspected. They said I had no permits, which is a massive lie. For starters, the permits were made and paid for, mostly by me. A few weeks before the show, I officially handed over the organization of the show to an event-organizing agency. When the police showed up, the organizers had not even made it to the show yet, because it was earlier in the day. Which is actually illegal of them, even if we had no permits they can only cancel the show if it’s in progress. The problem was that pathetic pop star I mentioned, was upset because, like I said, the intellectual media made sure that his name was dragged through the mud. And he had a worse reputation than he had already. We are talking about the head of the musicians syndicate here, even he has mental and confidence issues, which again describes the state the country is in. If you’re that rich and famous and have been given a prestigious title and are still insecure, well that’s just as sad as it is pathetic.
Anyway I was taken and put in a cell for three nights, one policeman burned a cigarette on my foot. I would have been ok with it to a certain degree had the show continued on. But it was cancelled, and it became a global issue. It made Egypt look really bad, and it deserves it.
If you had one piece of advice for the metal community in Egypt, what would it be?
I can’t find any advice to give. Like I said the populace is highly confused. They don’t know a good thing when they get it. Of course there are a few exceptions, but as a whole I find it hopeless.
On happier topics, it’s been a couple of years since your last EP, The Malefic. What are you currently working on? Will you have any special guests assisting you?
Yes! I love collaborating with people, not just in music too, to me it’s the perfect balance, of unleashing creativity then refining. I just got done with recording Malefic 2,its actually mixed now, but I’ve already started working on malefic 1, there are huge talents contributing to the record such as Derek Roddy from hate eternal and Nile fame, his own solo stuff is Called Serpent Rise and is quite amazing. Others include Christian Muenzner former guitarist of Necrophagist and Obscura, Jonas Renkse of Katatonia and Bloodbath and many more. I’ve also started working on about 8 other songs for future records, theres a ton of anger in them. I cant wait to get recording!
What is your next plan for global domination?
Making more art, in all its media. For me its never been something I’m interested to focus on one thing, I love to design things, I love to draw, I love to get on stage and perform, make sculptures etc. 2017 is looking great as I’m confirmed to play several fests, and of course making more drawings. One of the things I’m really excited about is a story I wrote for Malefic. Eventually it will become a graphic novel, going along with the record. I’m working with a very talented artist, and things have been coming out great!
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