Music, singing and dancing has become part of Egypt’s heritage and has been in the lives of its residents since ancient times, playing a significant role in human civilization.
Egypt has been known for producing many great poets, composers and singers who later became masters of art, not only in the Arab World, but internationally as well. This inspired other nationalities to come and visit Egypt to make their contributions to the art.
Binti Band is composed of six singing sisters who were born and raised in Belgium to an Egyptian father and Belgian mother. Their success lies in the unique polyphonic music they introduced, which was picked up by the Intercultural Center De Centrale when they decided to organize a festival for them to perform a few months ago.
Community Times spoke with the band who were in Belgium at the time, where they are based, to find out more about how they started and what their future plans are.
Tell us a little about your family.
Our father is an Egyptologist who owns a travel agency that takes Belgian tourists to Egypt, where he organizes the trips and accompanies them for guidance. Our mother, on the other hand, is educated to be a sports teacher, but chose not to work to focus on raising us.
Did any of you study music, or was it a passion on the side of your education?
We all went to a conservatory, a music school, when we were young, however, none of us did higher studies in music. Only two of us took singing classes and the others were taught how to play instruments and learned singing on their own.
Who writes the songs and composes the music for the band?
One of us comes up with the lyrics or melody, and then we compose the music together around the basic idea. We usually go away somewhere together for three to five days, once or twice a week, which we call “Binti-week”, that helps us produce music and rehearse together.
We also plan everything ourselves, including concerts and album distribution, as we do not have a business manager.
How did you come up with the band name?
It means “my daughter” in Arabic and it reflects our roots. It is one of the few Arabic words we learned from our father, so we decided upon this title together.
How did the idea of creating a band come to you, and when did you start?
We used to play music and sing separately, so we all had our own bands, until one day somebody asked us to sing something together for a concert in the woods and that is how we decided to join together.
We started performing in 2010 by singing covers of songs accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and occasionally a flute as we were more into close harmony with old jazz and reggae at that time. We began by playing in the streets of a large city, where we started receiving positive feedback from the crowd and some of the people watching were keen on hiring us to perform at weddings and receptions. That is how we started booking concerts and our audience expanded from there.
What was your first successful concert?
It was one of our early days when we were busking on the shore of Knokke, a beach city in Belgium, with only a guitar and the six of us. Many people stopped and listened until the crowd grew and grew to form a huge circle around us. That is the best thing about playing in the streets; we are 100% sure that people stop to listen out of their own interest and enjoyment. After that, we started recording an album with our own songs.
When did you first perform in Egypt and are you planning on visiting other Arab countries in the future?
Our first concert in Egypt was in 2013 at 100 Copies near Talaat Harb, which we were invited to by the Belgian Embassy that wanted to book us because they knew our nationalities and decided it would be a nice combination for a band playing in Egypt.
We would definitely like to expand our audience to include other Arab countries, and hope to visit Beirut soon.
What influences your music style, and are your Arab roots portrayed through your music? Do you aim to convey a certain message?
We play soulful music with the accent of multi harmony and vocals. Until now, we have not played Middle Eastern music, as it is not really in our plan. Our daily lives naturally influence our music, so it is possible that some Arab elements are included, yet it is something that has to grow organically and is not always evident.
We do not really aim to convey a specific message to our audiences, yet we just want to transmit positive energy and the feeling of enjoying music with loved ones.
What are your future plans?
We are currently working on filming a video clip that will probably include some shots from our gigs in Egypt.
Also, we would like to record a new album, but there is no specific date yet for that. Next year, we would like to go for another tour, first in Belgium and then abroad.