Since joining forces six years ago, Moustafa Sheta and Omar Hafez, two fun-loving 25-year-olds with an affinity for spinning discs, have become one of the biggest DJ acts in town. In fact, Misty & Hafez were recently handpicked by the Discovery Channel for a documentary that focused on Egypt’s burgeoning nightlife.The dynamic duo discussed the project and their fascinating journey with eniGma’s Mahmoud Al Badry.
How did Misty & Hafez come together?
Hafez: I’ve always had a love for DJing. I had always viewed it as a hobby, though, not as something that needed to be taken seriously. That all changed when I played with Misty for the first time at a high school party. At the time, we were mere acquaintances. Music is really what helped us bond and become the close friends that we are today. We started meeting up and jamming together regularly, and before we knew it, we were frequently performing in front of 200 or 300 people and at prestigious locations such as the Cairo Jazz Club.
Given that the industry is mostly comprised of solo acts, did it ever feel strange that you were two men putting on a show?
Hafez: We never really put that much thought into it. When we first started off, I didn’t really have that much experience, whereas Misty had so much more knowledge about the industry. He was my guide at the beginning, showing me the ropes and familiarizing me with the business. I never really thought that it would turn into something that I would do with such fervour, or that I would be performing in front of so many people. Performing together really had more appeal than being a solo act.
What has your experience been like?
Hafez: The beauty of this business is that you meet so many different people from all the industries and backgrounds that you could think of. We got to learn so much because of that, especially since in our field, people usually let loose and show their true personalities. We really get to meet people from all walks of life and learn different things every day.
How has the nightlife scene in Egypt changed since you first started?
Hafez: The changes have really been drastic. Back when we first started, people weren’t very acceptant of the type of music that we used to play; techno and house, for instance, sounded very strange to most people. Now, however, people are much more open to new genres.
Misty: Nightlife has really been transformed tremendously by a wave of deep house that became very popular in 2010. Since then, people have become a lot more open-minded, and a lot more money started to be pumped into the industry at a very fast rate.
Do you feel that you’ve had to change your style to keep up with all of these changes?
Misty: Most definitely. I always feel that my style is constantly changing as I listen to new subgenres of music. I mean, you also have to bear in mind that the music that we used to play when we first started was directly influenced by what we used to listen to at the time. Back then, there wasn’t a large base of support for the type of music that we played. We not only played the music that we liked and were inspired by, but also had to cater to the type of music that people wanted to listen to. The key, to me, was all about reaching that compromise and delivering a message through our music, helping it progress tremendously to get it to where it is today.
Hafez: As a musician, you really have an obligation to adapt to new music, even the biggest names in the world try to be influenced by specific trends. The entire point of all of it has to be to convey a message to people and to get them to enjoy the music that you play. It takes years of mixing and matching.
How would you characterize the Misty & Hafez experience?
Hafez: The whole thing about being a DJ or an artist is really about constant learning. You have to continuously develop your sound and music. Fortunately, I feel that we’ve done a pretty good job at that.
Misty: We’ve seen a lot, but we’re still learning. There’s always something new happening and so much creativity that’s involved in the entire process. I would best describe the Misty & Hafez experience as being very diverse. We experimented a lot until we got to this point where our music could best be described as happy, funky music. When we’re playing solo, we have very different sounds.
How do you ensure that you’re always in the scene and that people know about you?
Misty: As much as any other thing in life, being a successful DJ revolves around marketing yourself properly. You have to know the right people, but you also have to work on your music, develop your social media accounts, and generally ensure that you’re doing the best you can. If your music is good, you’re eventually going to be picked up.
Hafez: We try to always be nice to people. That’s really the best marketing ploy that anyone could have.
What was it like to promote Egyptian nightlife in your project with the Discovery Channel?
Hafez: It was very strange at first, really. I got an email from someone working in a production house in London telling me that they’re making a documentary about nightlife in Egypt, with our profile meeting their exact needs. In the beginning, I really thought that it was a prank. I didn’t fully understand what that meant or what it implied. It honestly came out of the blue. The ensuing three-day shoot was extremely fun for us, though.
Misty: As it turned out, it was a project started off by the Egyptian tourism industry. They wanted to shift people’s perceptions away from the stereotypical views of the country, which revolves around camels and the pyramids. One of the subjects covered was the booming nightlife in Egypt. Looking back, it was kind of an unconventional approach to promoting tourism. We thought that the project was wonderful because it really showcased how well rounded Egypt truly is. We’re very used to routine, but really, there’s so much that can be done inside the country. There are new places and new platforms opening up on a daily basis.
What does the future hold for Misty & Hafez?
Hafez: It’s been a difficult path to get to where we are today. The music that we play doesn’t really mesh well with our societal norms. Things are much better than they were, but many people, even young ones, still aren’t very acceptant of the kind of music that we play. You never really know what the future will hold for you. Nevertheless, I don’t think that I’ll ever get to a stage where music isn’t a big factor in my life. I think I’ll always have DJing as a hobby of mine and that, worst case scenario, I won’t get to practice it as frequently as I do today.
Misty: We never really viewed DJing as a job. This is our hobby at the end of the day. If the business side of it picks up, great; if it doesn’t, then that’s fine, too. Most DJs, here in Egypt, are focused on making it here, but in reality, you could make it anywhere. It’s high time that people start looking at the bigger picture and try to put Egypt on the global map.