In this edition of #WaraElMazzika, we had a very inspiring conversation with one of the most talented musicians in the scene right now, Mirelle Mokhtar AKA Afromountaingirl. The rising star is expanding her fan base with viral videos and iconic performances in legendary venues, and soon with a very promising EP that she’s currently working on.
We got to talk with Mirelle about how she got into music, her inspirations, favorite music, future plans, and more. Follow our hashtag #WaraElMazzika for more exclusives from the music industry.
When did you discover your talent and when did you decide to pursue a musical career?
I discovered my talent when I was three when my parents noticed that I hummed. But I really discovered it when I was seven years old, in a music class in second grade. My teacher was playing the piano, ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles, and the whole class was singing. But I guess she heard something in my voice, so she called me out in front of the whole class and made me sing on my own. So you can say that this was my very first performance ever.
And I went home that day with a certificate in music. The certificate said, “Your daughter has an exceptional voice, it’s a gift and you should cater to that talent”. Shortly after, my dad bought a keyboard and he got a piano teacher and he taught my brother how to play. My dad and my mom used to play music in the house all the time, so music was a huge part of our life.
At the age of 19, I started to post videos on social media. Not a lot of people knew that I sing except my family and my very close friends. I posted my very first video and I was nervous. And I kept doing it from 2013 up till 2018. And then at some point in 2018, I said to myself that I’m done with posting on social media, there is no point in doing it, it won’t take me anywhere. I was posting in hopes of being discovered by some producer, or you know like the way Justin Bieber was discovered by Usher for example. I was living in that hopes and dreams, and I was on the verge of giving up. And then the next day, I was like I’m just going to post one more video, and it’s going to be my last. And then I posted it and went to sleep, the next morning, the video reached a 140k, and everything happened from there! A few days later it reached half a million views.
I started being recognized by music producers and big names in the music industry here in Egypt while I was living in Canada. So one of the producers that found me was the incredible musician, Hisham Kharma. We spoke over social media. And when I came to Egypt last year, I decided to move for good, from Canada to Egypt, to pursue music professionally when I realized that my fan base is growing here in the Middle East, specifically Egypt. I decided to take a leap of faith and pack my life in a suitcase literally and come to Egypt. Then I met Hisham Kharma, and we had a very beautiful connection musically and spiritually and on a personal level and decided to do a song together, and that’s when 7allak Ma3y come to life, which was written by the beautiful song-writer Nesma El Shazly, and it was a beautiful connection between all of us. And that’s when I decided to pursue a career in music.
What inspires your music?
What inspires my music is in real-life situations. Be it a personal situation or a story or a struggle that I’ve heard a friend talk about or go through. But what really inspires my music is nature. I used to hike three times a week back in Canada, and that’s where my name Afromountaingirl comes from. So I like the sound of my foot on the soil as I climb, or the sound of a leaf falling or a wave crashing. I take these things and try to make something out of it musically. What I’m working on next will see me implement those sounds of nature in my music.
What’s your favorite music genre?
I love all kinds of my music like honestly, my taste is all over the map. So I can’t say I love a specific genre, however, if I would pick a genre it would be folk music. I like how it’s a blend of country music and singer-songwriters’ style of music.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
In Egypt, I would like to collaborate with Cairokee and Hany Adel. In the Middle East, I’d like to collaborate with Aziz Maraka and Souad Massi. And if I’d take it on an international level I’d want to collaborate with Kyng, Alicia Keys, and Justin Beiber.
Who are your favorite artists?
Much like my favorite music, my favorite artists are all over the map. But hands down my favorite musician is John Mayer. I just really admire his song-writing, he also has insane guitar skills, and his voice is out of this world. I’ve seen him live and I’ve cried. He’s really incredible, I really love and respect him. I also love Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, Kygo, Avici, and more.
After performing in iconic venues like the pyramids and the opera, where else do you want to perform?
Performing in front of the Pyramids is a dream come true. Being an Egyptian, and performing in front of one of the seven wonders of the world was literally a dream. So for me, I was up there! And then performing in the Opera House is also an honor. And also I got to perform at the Alexandria library. And of course, performing in front of the President at the World Youth Forum was an honor as well. But what I’d want to perform next is hopefully after I release my EP I want to sell big arenas. And do like a mini-tour in the Middle East. I just need to expand it a little bit and take it a little further, and then hopefully after that tour, I might aim further to a Europe tour, then maybe a North American tour. Just taking it one step at a time.
What are your future plans?
For now, my plans are to release an EP. So I’m trying to work on an EP and hopefully release by the year 2021. A four-track EP. All I know for now is that I want to reach as many hearts as possible. Our job, as musicians, is to keep people company. And I want the people to be my best friend through my music, the way I relate to music. For every situation, there is a song, and in a way, I become friends with the artists. I want to be able to do that and reach people’s hearts in that way. It’s magical, and it’s felt, and I want to leave some magic with everybody who listens to my music.