It’s safe to say, Tamer Hosny has defined a generation with countless hit songs, record -breaking albums and massive blockbuster films. Chances are that at one time or another, either you’ve been humming Hosny’s songs to yourself, or you were lining up at the cinemas to catch his films on the big screen. Hosny’s impact on Arab pop culture is undeniable, and his longevity is exceptional. He has managed to do what only very few artists could, namely dominate the scene for more than two decades. This year alone, he has released a catchy hit with fellow superstar Mahmoud El Esseily, worked on an exciting new film and joined ZED for a special campaign. It’s clear that not even a pandemic can slow Tamer Hosny down. eniGma’s Founder & Editor-in-Chief Yasmine Shihata had an in-depth conversation over Zoom with Hosny to catch up on both his recent professional successes as well as his upcoming collaboration with his gorgeous wife.
In the period when everyone was taking a break due to the pandemic, you were working hard on a new movie, a new song and new ads. Tell us more about your new work.
I’ve been spending some time preparing new projects in all directions. It’s the norm for me. I don’t rest, and I take really good care of my work. I’ve been preparing for many new projects. They may take a long time and I may disappear for a while, but I return in the optimal time, thanks to God. What matters is timing.
What were you focusing on most? The movie or the song?
I can’t tell you that I focus on one thing more than the other. I give all my work the same attention and the same level of dedication. For every project I do, it feels like how it was the first time; therefore, I give it the utmost dedication all the way through. Maybe, if I were to decide which was the hardest, I would say the movie, Mesh Ana (Not Me). It’s a really hard movie. When you see it, you will know what I mean. It was pretty difficult in terms of acting. It required a lot of preparation, reading and studying. As for the song Ekhtera’ (Invention), honestly it was really special, to create a song with another star. I definitely salute my good friend and life companion, Mahmoud El Esseily, and I congratulate him on the great success God has granted us. I thought of the idea of the song and I invited Mahmoud to join me. I had a vision and he believed in it. When you bring two stars together, and try to bring out the best in each of them, it’s hard. It basically requires a vision to be able to meet in a good way.
I know you don’t want to mention the details, but give us a hint about your upcoming movie. I think we’ll be seeing you in a different light this time, is that right?
This time, the story is kind of different. In fact, I wrote the story, and the film is directed by Sara Wafiq. It’s her first big movie. Sara is very creative, and she surprised us all with her amazing directing. The montage was done by Amr Akef, who truly is on a level of his own in montage and graphics. He is an international talent, living in the heart of Egypt. I respect him a lot and all his patience. Unfortunately, I can’t give any details about the movie. But I can’t wait for you to see it.
When will the movie be out? Is there a confirmed date?
It all depends on the current circumstances. I’m currently preparing for my album and the movie. But as you can see, circumstances remain difficult. Everyone around the world is having a hard time. We’re trying to decide on the perfect time to release the movie in the coming period. God willing, it will be released at the proper time. I don’t want to release it online and am waiting for the cinemas. I have hope that life will get back to normal soon and cinemas will be back.
You’ve been in the field for about 20 years, or maybe even more. You’ve reached heights people dream of reaching. How do you view your journey when you look back?
It’s truly quite a journey. It started in 2002, specifically when Tamer started to become Tamer Hosny, and was able to do projects alone. After 2002, many milestones came my way. When I reflect on the journey and the efforts I put in, I never rest. I try all the time to look for new ideas and keep up with the existing ideas in the best way possible. This definitely needs much reflection and careful study, especially when you are a person with a huge fanbase, not only in Egypt, but in the Middle East and in some other parts of the world as well. You need to do a lot of thinking to be able to keep up and you need to take great risks in every big step. All of this involves great effort.
If you got the chance, would you do anything differently?
There may be things that I am not fully satisfied with; but these things motivated me to work harder to accomplish bigger things, and I grew as a result. This is really what got me where I am today. When people make mistakes, or when they make decisions and are not happy with the result, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t choose to do the same thing if they went back in time. I don’t want to go back in time and undo anything, because the mistakes I did taught me a lot. They made me who I am now. And who I am now, is the product of hard work, effort and enlightenment in his field.
You’re known to be very down to earth, especially with your fans. How do you find the time to balance your work and meet your fans? And how come you didn’t change after you became famous?
I made an agreement with myself from the very beginning to never change. I was a simple Egyptian man who had a dream. I prayed to God to achieve my dream, and my view of fame and popularity has always been the same. I wanted to succeed just so that I could express how people feel. I want to experience people and be around them. The more I do that, the more I understand how they feel. I love talking to my fans and connecting with them and I want to help everyone as much as I can. I never want to become a selfish star. That’s not how my mother raised me. We’re all going to pass one day, so we need to be nice and respectful to each other when we still can. I was this way before I was successful.
Can you talk a little bit about your wife, Bassma, and her new fashion line, and your collaboration together?
Bassma is the closest person to me. She had this idea and decided to work on it. I believe in her and I think she’s doing great things and will go a long way. I’m really proud that she’s venturing out on her own and making a name for herself, by herself. That’s what I learned when I was first breaking out, and I think this is what’s best for her. She’s extremely hard working and she’s going to do great things.
You and Bassma are always private and keep your life away from the public eye. You’re a husband, a father and a star; how do you balance all these responsibilities?
When I got married and had children, I changed the way I work. My studio is at home now. I work on my music at home, so I can spend more time with my children instead of away from them. I know how each of them feels, literally, by just looking at them. I even take their opinions on my work into account. I love staying at home actually, so that’s not a problem for me at all. I’m also obsessed with respecting time. I don’t indulge in gossip or such things; I have bigger things to worry about. Time is running, and we need to use every minute well. I stay home, care for my family and focus on my work. I don’t want my family to ever feel neglected.
What do you think makes a successful marriage?
There is no marriage on earth without problems. Each two people need time to get used to each other. They need to communicate how they feel to understand each other, that’s how they get through things. If there’s no communication, that’s a huge problem.
Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with ZED on their ‘Spark Happiness’ campaign?
I sat with Mr. Naguib Sawiris and he was very kind and delightful. The commercial is great and what makes it so special is that it appeals to everyone. The location itself is beautiful. I had to see the location before I agreed to work with them, and I found it so beautiful that it really convinced me. As for the song, itself, the composer Mohamed Rahim, had come to me with it a while before and I really loved it and I worked on it even though I didn’t have a commercial for it yet. But I loved it so much as if it was my own single. When ZED came along, I played them the song and they really loved it. This was very rewarding after a lot of hard work.
What advice would you give to young people, especially ones who want to make it big, or even just want to be successful in life generally?
The behaviour of this generation needs to be studied. I have no problem with people becoming famous, even by achieving something very small. There are a lot of influencers who are very funny and they fool around a lot, but they have a message and they’re doing well; I respect them. However, I am against people who become famous as a result of bad behaviour. I think that’s the issue right now; people are clinging to the wrong things and the wrong people, and that can be damaging. My advice to young people is that fame without impact, credibility and morals is pointless. They also need to think twice about what they share. Don’t let anyone fool you. I was once young and naïve; I followed blindly. Now, I’m aware of my platform, and I’m very careful of what I should and shouldn’t post.
You’ve achieved a lot; are there still some big dreams you want to achieve?
My dream is to go down in history as someone who showcased how Egyptians felt, whether it’s their sadness, their light or their love. I want to feel what they feel and express it in my music. That also applies to all Arabs. I hope I left some sort of impact on them. I really hope I connected, and continue to connect with them. I want my message to reach the entire world. When I worked with Snoop Dogg, or did other international music, it wasn’t for fame or money; it was to expand my message. When I worked with Snoop Dogg, Jason Derulo and Akon, they all sang or tried to speak in Arabic. We’ve always been influenced by others, it’s time for us to influence others and to expose them to our culture and language. I hope the new generation keeps going with this. There’s racism in the west against us, and I want to counter that. Also, I’m really thrilled and excited about my upcoming film, Mesh Ana. I really want this movie to be nominated for an Oscar. I like showcasing my country in a positive light. I did that with my music especially when I directed my last music video. It turned out really well and it showed how beautiful Egypt is. I learned a lot from the directors that I worked with over the years.
Can you tell us more about directing your own video?
Ever since I was young, I loved all kinds of art. I love learning everything and dabbling in everything. I helped many directors over the years and gave them their first push, so I thought to myself, “why not direct this video on my own?” I really loved the responsibility. Esseily, who sang with me in the video, is a very close friend since we were very young. Working with him was amazing. Working with him was very easy, simply because we both understand and respect each other. Honestly, the entire crew worked very hard. It wasn’t a solo effort. I’m very happy with the outcome and proud of it. I don’t care about the numbers; I care about how people feel. Soon, I’ll be collaborating with more artists, especially young ones. I’m very privileged right now and I think I can use that to shine the spotlight on the next generation of artists.