A year and a half ago, I went to independent record label Subspace’s studio for an interview with the founders and met Malak El-Husseiny by coincidence. Founders Ahmed Mehessen (aka Teknyk) and Aly Samaha explained Malak was one of their most promising artists. At the time, I thought she seemed charming, polite and shy. “They develop you mentally; it is a very emotional process,” she said of the newly-created record label. Today, I understand why Subspace put so much into developing El-Husseiny.
Malak, who is juggling her budding performance career with a full course load at the American University in Cairo, was a finalist in the Sing Egyptian Women competition and has played in nightclubs all over Cairo. Her EP launched at Virgin Megastore on 3 May.
The timing, she said, feels right.
When Malak was touring Cairo’s club scene, she mostly belted out covers of other people’s songs, but, she said, “I wanted to produce my own music.”
At Subspace, she said Teknyk pushed her through the grueling process of writing a song every day for a few months, substantially raising the quality of her songwriting.
“I can now write a song in under 10 minutes if I have to,” she said. “Subspace helped me reach my full potential as an artist and gave me the freedom to be the artist I want to be.”
She didn’t want to make “the acoustic type music that you hear being performed here a lot,” she said.
“I knew that my voice would be better suited to a different kind of sound and once I discovered it, I started to write my own music and have fun.”
To achieve that sound, she said, “it was necessary for me to undergo a production process. There had to be a producer.”
Malak explores this newfound sound on her new EP.
In good humour, she kept dodging our questions about musical influences, but finally conceded that Janis Joplin had a major influence on her style.
“In general, I am very influenced by 60s pop culture and icons like Eve Sedgwick,” she said. “This album is an exploration of that; I played music off of who I am.”
The team at Subspace is pursuing an ambitious online campaign; the EP is available on Amazon and iTunes, with Spotify to follow. A new music video of her single “Alters” music video hit Youtube last week.
Malak’s next performance will be at the Sawy Culture Wheel on 30 May, with Islam Chipsy, Hussein El Sherbini, and Subspace’s NeoByrd. Her EP is available online and in all branches of Virgin megastore.