We sat down with one of the most talented musicians in Egypt and the Arab World, the promising drummer Samo Eltaweal. Samo is an Egyptian musician, drummer, and composer. He’s also a session/touring drummer, which means he plays for different bands and singers.
He has performed with names of the likes of Massar Egbari, Abu, MTM, Maryam Saleh, Cairo Big Band Society, Yuri Markadi, Youssra El Hawari, Crash Boom Bang, Charles Ava (USA), Generik Vapeur (France), and many more.
Samo is skilled in a huge spectrum of genres including Jazz, Funk, Rock, Hip-Hop, Electronic, and Fusion. Alongside his work as a touring drummer, his main project is an Electronica Trio called Telepoetic.
Where did you learn to play drums?
I started in my hometown, Alexandria. Learning drums was an enjoyable yet challenging journey, as I didn’t have any resources in the beginning. I couldn’t even afford to pay for drum learning classes that I signed up for with a friend.
However, I met with him after every lesson so he can teach me what he learned. And I was practicing by myself every day for hours until my hands got swollen. When I made progress, I reached out to every good drummer I knew. From friends to older musicians to help me learn more, participated in advanced workshops, and studied by myself the drumming books of Trinity College.
How many years on average do you think someone needs to play drums?
I believe that learning a musical instrument is an ongoing process that never ends. Any musician will have and must keep learning. The moment you stop learning, you fail.
Who inspired you to begin your drumming career?
Starting a career as a musician could seem like an impossible dream. And this is how I felt at the beginning. But I was always inspired by my older brother, Bahaa Eltaweal. He built a successful career in journalism, received a masters degree from Harvard University, and recently he became a policy manager at Google in San Fransico. His success makes me believe that if I work hard like him, nothing is impossible.
Who’s your favorite drummer in the Arab world and internationally?
The Arab world is full of talented drummers. But the Algerian drummer, Karim Ziad is my favorite. And internationally, the American drummer Nate Smith.
In your opinion, which music genre is the most underrated in Egypt?
I think Metal. We have many good metal bands, but they are not getting the opportunity to present their music to a large audience. Because most production companies and venues are under the assumption that Egyptians are not into Metal. Which I think is not accurate. These bands deserve a chance and more exposure.
If you’d play another instrument, what would it be?
I think it would be bass guitar. It’s one of my favorite instruments. However, nothing satisfies me more than playing the drums.
What is the achievement that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of the fact that I now perform with some of my favorite bands and artists, whom I used to be a fan of. Now, I am their colleague, and I share the stage with them.
What’s the mistake that most beginner musicians fall in?
Not being patient. Starting a career as an artist is very challenging and demanding, and it requires a lot of passion, hard work, and understanding that it might take years to harvest the fruits of this hard work. And by that, I mean both reaching a large audience, and making a good income.
Beginner musicians might think that being good at playing their instrument will suffice to make it. However, there are many more factors that play into becoming a successful musician. Being punctual to rehearsals, soundchecks, and gigs are some of the most important things, as it sets a strong rapport with everyone involved around you in the scene.
Moreover, being a “good hang” and maintaining a positive attitude is necessary to always push the ship forward. Only then, you can make a genuine network of musician and fans. So that’s why focusing only on your craft, is only one factor to making it.