It's a Phiasco

Jonathan Spollen
4 Min Read

New production company plans to invigorate local independent music scene, and more

Tim El Abd, one of the four creators of ‘Phiasco Productions,’ exudes the confidence of a man who knows he is onto a winner. Having been part of London’s vibrant clubbing circuit for six years, he understands what it takes to make a good party; and in Egypt’s budding scene, he and his team believe they have found a captive market waiting to be tapped.

The evidence so far suggests they are right. Phiasco’s last two parties both drew crowds pushing 500, and they were just the warm-up for something bigger. The piece de resistance, ‘Beat Bazaar,’ which takes place this evening at Saqqara Country Club, expects a crowd approaching 4,000.

In a country with a population greater than that of Britain, Germany or France, there is no shortage of clubbers craving the parties of London, Berlin and Paris. In its efforts to recreate that in Egypt, Phiasco jets in DJs of international repute, while nurturing the country’s home-grown talent. Alongside acts from the UK, Czech Republic and Greece, three Egyptians will play their sets at Beat Bazaar.

One, Amir Sharara, has played at clubs all over Europe, and performed at Phiasco’s first three events. These, he says, helped establish a fan base, and promote the company’s name in Egypt.

Sharara plays a wide variety of progressive music, ranging from electronic house and funk, to drum and bass, and hip-hop. “It all depends on the mood of the crowd, he says.

This artistic freedom is one of the founding principles of Phiasco Productions, says El Abd. He and his team, fed up with the commercial tat dominating radio waves and television screens, adopt a laissez-faire approach to content when signing on new acts.

He emphasizes that Phiasco aims to “promote independent creativity, not stifle it, and hopes to develop a market separate from the one dominated by “mainstream record labels. And that extends to more than music. There are plans to branch out into film, literature, graphic design and any “independent productions of quality.

“People are getting tired of cheesy commercial productions, says El Abd. “Everywhere, there is a general shift away from the mainstream. It is just as easy these days to find good music, as it is to find ‘popular’ music.

In this way, the internet has proved invaluable. Digital downloads make hitherto ‘word-of-mouth’ music accessible to audiences the world over, and the web is ideal for advertising events and promoting artists. Phiasco achieved much publicity online with advertising campaigns on Facebook, MySpace and email circulation. They also launched a website recently, though it is still under construction.

On top of that, they advertised on popular websites, like Otlob and Yallabina, as well as satellite television, and launched a flyer campaign in Cairo and Alexandria. Their professionalism, organization, and, perhaps, the gorgeous graphics on their ads and flyers, have attracted major corporate sponsors. Companies like Microsoft, Heineken, and Power Horse, are among those sponsoring Beat Bazaar.

Even the government is beginning to realize the potential of the market Phiasco is promoting. The Ministry of Tourism, says El Abd, is now making it easier to hold major parties, particularly in popular Red Sea locations. Indeed, on Tuesday June 26, Phiasco will throw another party, ‘Underground Sessions,’ in Sharm El-Sheikh.

“The scene here is growing fast, he says. “There are now more promoters, players and venues than ever before. But realistically, it is still only in its infancy.

If Beat Bazaar delivers the success that it promises, Phiasco may just take the first step toward adolescence.

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