The spectacular musical duo, Egyptian brothers Shady and Fady Wanas, rocked at eniGma’s 9th Celebration of Arab Glamour & Success. Raised in Egypt and living in the Unitesd States for the past 12 years, Fady is a saxophonist and Shady is a drummer. The incredibly passionate duo have spent the past few years performing between Egypt and the U.S. eniGma’s Rawya Lamei chatted with them over Zoom about their musical trajectory, which is nothing short of remarkable.
The Wanas brothers grew up in Egypt, where they studied classical Western music at Egypt’s prestigious Conservatoire. While Fady had dreamt of playing the saxophone, it was not offered at the Conservatoire, so he chose the closest instrument to it, which was the clarinet. Shady on the other hand, found himself forced to play the violin, even though he had no desire to do so. Eventually, they both got to play their dream instruments on their own, Fady the saxophone and Shady the drums.
When Fady was in his last years of high school, he finally got a saxophone and joined the Boghdady Jazz Band, one of the top bands in Egypt at the time. On the other hand, Shady’s grandmother, knowing his passion for the drums, would get him a tabla (drum) every Tuesday on her way back from the market, and he would play until it broke. A few years later, Shady decided to take up percussion at the conservatory. At around the same time, their family learnt that they had won the U.S. Green Card lottery. While neither of the brothers had any desire to leave Egypt, it had always been their father’s dream to live in the U.S. So, they packed their bags and moved after three months of getting their letter, in 2010.
After moving to the States, everything changed for the Wanas brothers. It became very difficult for them to continue their studies in music. Fady got caught up at work, and completely forgot about music for a few years. After graduating from high school, Shady found himself studying something he had no interest in at university.
Then in 2014, Fady got a call from an old acquaintance from Egypt, the conductor Adel Iskander, telling him that he had moved to the States as well and asked him to join his band as a saxophonist. Fady did not hesitate to accept. “I really missed music. I had been thinking about the many years I had spent studying music, and how it brought me so much joy, so I started to gradually get back into music. By 2018, I had taken it up full time,” says Fady. Shady on the other hand, got back into music when his friend posted a video of him playing the drums on social media. The video got over a hundred thousand views, so he decided to take the step back into music by performing regularly at a restaurant with live music. He later studied Music Production at the Los Angeles Film School.
When it comes to their style, Fady adores Oriental music. “During family gatherings, my uncle would always tell me to play some Um Kalthoum and Abdelhalim Hafez. It’s what is closest to my heart,” says Fady. In fact, Oriental music is what gives him an edge and makes him special in California, even though he also performs Jazz at times.
Shady, who is also extremely attached to his Egyptian roots, says, “With percussion, everything I perform is the type of music that gets you dancing. Personally, I love Shaaby music. It’s just the type of music I prefer. But in general, I love to drum to just about anything.”
Fady and Shady couldn’t help but mention how much they miss Egypt. They miss the energy, the people, and everything that comes with it. “When we go home to Egypt, we don’t want to leave,” says Shady. Fady says that this has also affected his music. Initially, he couldn’t perform music that was on the more upbeat side, because on the inside, he missed his home. He would find himself playing very sad songs. Funnily enough, however, those would be his best performances because they showed incredible emotion.
“Shady is the complete opposite though, constantly making people laugh and dance,” he says. “To the point that our friends would tell me to learn from him, instead of depressing everyone,” he adds jokingly.