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Bern, Switzerland

Credit - Yoshiko Kusano





Almwaya is a musical project consisting of the duo - of Maya Aghniadis, a music producer and multi-instrumentalist from Lebanon, and Wael Sami Elkholy a Cairo-raised singer and actor After moving to Switzerland, Wael Sami Elkholy released two albums. I decided to review their latest project #RidingACamelInTheMiddleOfTheSea and get the duo in for a TJPL NEWS interview. So, let's get into this album first! The beginning of this album is highly meditative - #DucksandDrakes combines the sounds of nature with acoustic strings to lift the listener into the early stages of the project. The windpipe instrumentation along with the Mediterranean-infused strings take you into a land of wonder. The second half of this piece finds us listening to the gorgeous Arabian-inspired vocals of both artists. This is beautiful. #Ethammili is a gorgeous piece - This song infuses the calmness of nature with tribal percussion and the sounds of Arabia - Being half Arab myself I really appreciated the diversity in this piece - I can hear the traditional influences that remain and the impact that modern sounds have had on the piece. I think that this piece is revolutionary to the sound of the modern Arab World. #JeVeuxJePeux is an intriguing production indeed. The opening bassline sounds a lot like modern bass but is rooted in traditional Arabian strings - the guitar compositions remind me of elements of traditional Yemeni music with a modern twist. Love this one! The vocals are heartfelt and traditionally Arabian, and the production is too but with that clear cinematic and atmospheric twist of experimental electro with a few high-pitched screams thrown in for a rock and roll effect. This is a very bold and daring piece that has worked! #TahunatAlma is a stripped-back piece that holds an intimate feel. The track holds very few instruments which allow for the soulful vocals to really shine through. #Bea - Radio Edit is another interestingly experimental piece that infuses the worlds of the Middle East and the west. Meditteranean strings merge with Arabian strings to create a body for the vocals to rest on and the bass is highly catchy. #YenteGyae infuses acoustic guitar with percussion shakers and almost chanting vocals in a track that feels very tribal and mindful. I love this one! This is a piece that grows as it develops - it keeps the authentic sounds of traditional Arabian influence and merges them into a cinematic experience. This is my favorite piece! The track then moves into a Greek-sounding production. I LOVE THIS TRACK SO MUCH! #PurpleCloud is another favorite of mine. Infusing Arabian strings once more with hints of Greek influence. I love this piece the minute I heard it and so I googled it. I found an acoustic version and fell even more in love with the soulful nature of this duo. #MoonlightBay closes the project under the stars and places the listener back with the sounds of nature, birds singing along with the artists' and the strings slow down to entice you further into their world. This duo merges the world in one smooth sweep through their unique and diverse artistic direction making a distant world feel less vast. It's been a real honor to have had their sound placed in front of me.




Credit - Yoshiko Kusano

When creating the track/tracks, who were your biggest artistic influences?


WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - It's an inspirational source. Of course, there is the music background and listening accumulations through our music journey, but at the moment of creation, we melt in a magical spiral muse. Then we react, express and improvise.

What motivates you to create?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - The relief that is felt when a certain emotion/idea is expressed through musical creation.

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - It could be anything and everything: nature, sounds, pictures, smells, situations, memories and feelings. And indeed, the joy of creation.

How do you develop your artistic skills?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - By practicing instruments, discovering new sound textures and sometimes going outside of my musical comfort zone to meet a new note or harmony.

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - Keep listening and understanding how the sounds work, especially in nature. Many frequencies and waves around us need to be explored and discovered. All we need is to listen and let our senses react and perform these sounds with our musical language. That requires practice and courage to achieve virtuosity and express freely.

What are your ultimate career goals?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - My goal is to keep on creating music as long as it makes me happy :)

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - To communicate and reach souls and hearts.

How do you collaborate with other artists?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - Most of my best collaborations were the spontaneous ones. For instance, when Wael and I started composing together we barely knew each other. And the best part was meeting him through the notes he played and the harmonies he sang.

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - Every collaboration has its process and story. I follow the story and accept what we receive from each other on a human and musical level, and then I let the music speak :)

How would you define your sound?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - A message that concerns us all on many different levels. Something that translates the endless loop of emotions we can feel throughout a day, a month, a year, or a lifetime.

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - Borderless, inspired, genuine and improvisational.

What are your future plans? What can we look forward to for the rest of 2022?

MAYA AGHNIADIS - More creations, collaborations, performances :) Stay tuned !

WAEL SAMI ELKHOLY - Keep performing, producing, meeting people and communicating. There are many fresh ideas to work on. We don't quit :)



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