Writing this from DC where I begin touring with Ramy Essam and his band along the American East Coast. Which sounds a lot more extensive than the four cities it entails (DC, Philly, Pittsburgh, and New York). Here's the poster I designed for it:
I only arrived just last night in time for the first of Ramy's performances, and I've already been asked more than once what my involvement with the tour will be, and well... I'm not quite sure, nor is Ramy quite frankly. But prior to the tour, we had been talking about a lot of visual stuff. Tour posters and merch aside, we've been discussing album art for some of his upcoming releases as well as potential approaches for the making of music videos, and even a bit of fashion. This was all over the phone; What's App calls keeping us connected across continents, me in the States and Ramy in Sweden. He figured his being stateside for tour was probably a good opportunity for us to hang on a day-to-day basis and have the opportunity to discuss and brainstorm things in detail, and I had to agree. On top of that, I'd actually never seen Ramy perform before, not even during the tumultuous times of Tahrir Square some nine years ago—where Ramy first started performing. We were both aware of one another's activities but our paths only ever crossed several years later in New York City, after having both been forced into exile.
I'm not sure enough people—“Western observers” especially—realize the tremendous role played by Ramy, not just back then and not just in Egypt, but even today and from a significant distance no less. Here's one of his songs effectively utilized as a “weapon” on the rebellious front lines of Beirut just last night.
All this to say, it's kind of a no-brainer that Ramy and I would collab. Aside from my tagging along giving us the opportunity to talk lots of shop, I'm also utilizing it to draw inspiration for some of the visual stuff. I'm not sure how that will transpire exactly, but for now I'm enjoying getting a first hand look not just at the performances themselves, but all the lead-up stuff backstage as well as the wind-down that follows.
I'm also enjoying taking the occasional photograph.
It should be noted that last night's concert took place at the Kennedy Center, which is practically the United States most official performance venue in existence. To have Ramy and his band rock out at the Kennedy Center's foyer (non-ticketed, unavoidable to anyone walking to and from any other performance taking place in the building), shaking the walls and columns with Arabic rebel music is pretty fucking badass. Love that they opened with “Age of the Pimp.”
Seated with Ramy in that last picture is TIMEP's very awesome Mai El-Sadany, who is clearly peering right through the man.