Charls Ava is a border-dweller of the highest order--her music art lives where continents meet and cultures transact. Born and raised in the USA to Egyptian immigrant parents, she had a long run in New York City working as a session singer, mainly singing big commercials. She had some moments: singing backup for M.I.A. and once performing for French first lady Carla Bruni. Ultimately, she began to feel a scream within, to move on and create her own record. She left and moved to Cairo to live and make music. Cairo, a crowded city, is ancient and modern, with a million people going their own way on any given street. A place fusing noise, improvisation and an underground creativity. It was the right place for the journey ahead.
Ava met producer Mohamed Ragab (aka Machine Eat Man), a pioneer in Egypt’s alternative music scene for over a decade. A performer and synth-whiz, Ragab’s electronic rock sound, dubbed Egyptronica, for his use of traditional Egyptian percussions within heavy rock/electronic music (influenced by Depeche Mode, Tool, NIN), provided the perfect production. The result was a dynamic 12 song electronic rock record exploring psychological and identity struggles, political issues and displacement. Titled The Immigrant, it was created between Ragab’s home studio, Radio Acid, and Egypt’s first ever project studio, Ganoub Studio where Egypt’s alternative music movement originated in the 1990’s. Ganoub’s founder Amr Hefny mixed and mastered the album.
Bold rhythms and layers of synths drive the record, carrying the listener from danceable to wired and nervy. Vocally it’s edgy, dark, and even poppy. Once in a while, one discovers a wordless lament spreading into an Eastern scale while hidden tabla beats expose themselves. Melodies and lyrics composed by Ava express her experiences of two cultures. The song Black Night describes a politically tense Cairo. Skeleton Dance follows a protagonist on a quest to reach the border wall only to find a fight awaits. Angel is a desperate prayer to an angel when it seems god himself won’t listen. City With No Name expresses the struggle of personal emptiness while one grapples with identity.
Instead of creating conventional fusion music, Ava proves that one can use all the pieces of who they are to make a coherent personal expression. It helps having the perspective of coming from two worlds, always a bit of an outsider (or immigrant) in both, or, living at the border.
Coming in 2019. (Real photo taken by the USA customs and border control.)
PREVIOUS releases (singles)
Genre: Electronic Rock
City: Cairo, Egypt and New York, NY