Lara Scandar is many things – a pop princess, a social media sensation and a fashion icon. While it might’ve taken the singer some time to find her forte, it seems that now more than ever, Scandar is comfortable in her own skin with her star shining brightly. Breathing life into a genre that had been on bed rest for decades and proving that this style of music hasn’t flat-lined after all, the star is paving her own path while simultaneously following in the footsteps of some of the most iconic musicians of the last century. Scandar’s latest single, El Tabour (The Queue), is the perfect example of the direction she’s taking, radiating a magical vintage vibe that honours Dalida’s 1957 song, Bambino, while bringing a whole new twist to it, with original lyrics that tell a gripping story. eniGma’s Mohamed Hesham sat down with the down to earth and fabulous performer, to hear about her career, her dreams and the special feat of continuing her upward trajectory after 10 years in the industry.
Talk to me about El Tabour, the idea behind it and how it came about.
El Tabour is primarily a revamp of Dalida’s Bambino from 1957. We wanted to bring it back to Egypt and reintroduce people to the iconic melody, but with new words. It was very important to me to not write random, basic romantic lyrics that don’t tell a specific story. I wanted to tell an actual story with this song, which was impeccably written by Menna Adli El Kiey. The song was produced and arranged by Jean-Marie Riachi and was recorded, mixed and mastered by Xavier Escabasse at JMR Studios.
The music video is just as impressive and catchy as the song. How did that come about, and how did you decide on the retro theme?
I felt like the lyrics tell a story on their own in a very natural sense, so there was no need to act them out; it would’ve been too literal. I wanted to leave it to the viewers to draw this story in their own heads with their imagination. We opted instead for the 1950s and 60s vibe to pay homage to Dalida. I brought my team from Lebanon for the music video and everyone did an extraordinary job with hair, makeup and wardrobe. It was such an amazing creative process. It was my first music video to be shot and produced entirely in Egypt, and Neviene Ragab did a fantastic job in directing it.
It has been 10 years since your career kicked off on Star Academy. How do you feel about what you’ve achieved since then and where you are now? Do you feel like you’re in a different place than you thought you’d be?
I remember always getting asked where I would see myself 10 years from then, and I always replied that I just wanted a happy and stable life, to settle down, while still having a successful career, of course. And I’m actually really happy with where I am now, I feel that I’ve matured and grown, which is reflected in my work.
Do you feel like your approach to music and your career choices are different now that you’re married?
Before I got married, I was taking it slow for about a year and a half, but after marriage, I feel like my career actually picked up again and I was adamant to work harder. I don’t feel that it really affected my choices or direction; all it did was have a positive impact on my career and encourage me to work harder.
You have managed to revamp the genre of multilingual music that hadn’t been very popular, perhaps since the days of Dalida. What do you believe was the driving force behind that?
I’m so glad you said that! These were the kind of songs I would listen to as a kid and as I grew up. That was actually my main goal, to give a new, fresh look to some of the old classics that will always remain favourites among the older generations. I wanted to introduce these classics to the Arab world’s newer generations. Ta’alo Ghano M’aya (Come Sing with me) and El Tabour, were both inspired by old melodies of famous classics, but reimagined in my own way of delivering Arabic music. My issue used to be people telling me that I cannot sing in Arabic, but I can, as long as I do it my own way. You can always pave your own path. I think it took me some time to figure out how I wanted to do it, but here I am, 10 years later, doing it in my way.
You are also a social media sensation, with your posts gaining a lot of traction among fans and followers. Do you feel like your identity on social media represents who you are in your daily life?
I actually consider myself really bad at social media! I always say, ‘I wish I was comfortable sharing more, but I’m just not.’ There’s always this step back that I take because I don’t feel comfortable sharing too much about my personal life. However, I’m so glad people like my posts and the things I share, which are an accurate representation of who I really am.
On top of all that, you are known for your impeccable style and fashion sense – Do you feel that fashion is another way to express yourself?
Yes, of course. Everything I do is a way of expressing myself, and I love exploring fashion and trying new things all the time.
What’s next for you?
El Tabour is the first in a collection of singles that I will be releasing throughout the year, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them! There will be some very nice surprises within the upcoming tracks; some are very different from anything that I’ve done previously. My aim is to keep introducing new things to the region.
Would you ever want to try singing in more languages or explore different genres of music?
I’ve already sung in Arabic and English, as well as French and Italian (with my dad) in unofficial songs. Maybe Mandarin?! (laughs). But yes, I would definitely love to try any new genres that come my way!
Would you ever consider acting, since, with your music videos and your commercials, it seems to be something you are quite good at?
I get asked this question a lot, but I don’t know. Maybe, I would consider exploring acting, but I would have to take classes and get proper professional training beforehand, as it is not something that comes as naturally to me as singing.
Now that you’ve been in this industry for 10 years, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Oh my God! I don’t know if I want to think about that (laughs). Asking an 18 year-old where she sees herself in 10 years is very different from asking a 28 year-old. I mean, it’s not the same vision that I once had for myself. I just want to make music, be happy and live life day by day, like I have been doing for the past 10 years!