Few bass players seem to have the ambition to form a band centered around their sound nevermind seeking to redefine their music into something deeply introspective. I stumbled across Khaled Sallam of Konzaross via an interview of his featured on Jorzine since he’s based in Cairo, Egypt. The fact that someone from such an unlikely place has decided to stubbornly pave his own way with just his bass and effects pedals in hand was impressive to me. All of his music is available for free download on his site so please do give it more than a passing glance.
What motivated you to pick up the bass in 1994? It must have been hard to find European instruments and learn about European music back then, so what was the process like for getting to know and learn it?
When I decided to play bass in 1994, it wasn’t easy to find someone to teach me, but I found by coincidence someone who plays bass. Knowing that bass players were rare at this time and most people were not interested in the this instrument, the fact that he was playing rock music encouraged me to ask for more information about the bass. He didn’t have the experience to teach so I just took some basics then I decided to focus on teaching myself by reading music books. After my own journey of getting to know music theory, I started composing my own music and created my own way playing style.
Were you part of any bands before Konzaross and what was it like forming your own solo project in Cairo during that time? What inspired the name “Konzaross”?
Before my own solo project, Konzaross in 1997, I remember that I played in some incomplete bands. Although we had the ambition to complete and perform at music festivals and known places in Egypt at this time, things had changed. Suddenly, most of the members that I was playing with decided to travel aboard for work and others stopped playing music for their own reasons. I lost hope in all music related dreams. Then, in the beginning of February 1997, I decided to form and focus on my own solo music project Konzaross which would have bass and vocals only. At that time, music in Cairo was having some problems but they passed quickly.
Konzaross is a mysterious old dark castle from the Dark Ages.
Despite going solo, even while having Mustafa El Gamal along for the ride at times, did you ever get to play live? Did you have the desire to? What was the live scene like in Cairo during the mid to late 90's?
At that time, no. Sure, I had the desire to play live but I didn’t get the chance to so I focused more on my own music. The live scene in Cairo was great during the mid to late 90's.
Before you changed genres at the end of 2000, what was your vision for Konzaross? What did you want to achieve with it and how has that changed in regard to your current vision for it?
Earlier on, my music vision was about real mysterious and weird concepts in our life. In the end of 2000, I decided to create something more realistic and different, my own genre in effect, which an in-depth look at a person’s inner self and the conflicts that the human soul encounters.
Speaking of the new genre you've picked for it, you came up with your own name for it calling it, “Psychedelic Melodic Dark Music - State of Mind Music.” How did that label come about as a description for your music?
Well, my music is something intended to speak to the mind with the purpose of helping one to relax and reflect on the many issues in their lives; the deep personal subjects. As if you are making a reflection of the inner self living in a world of your own creation. Also, it’s music meant to help the listeners to focus on what they need to be doing during their daily routines. State of mind music has its own time and place so as to capture the listener’s imagination and soul.
Your music is foreign in feel. Did you ever toy with the idea of adding in some native Egyptian influences in it? What made you reject that idea?
My music comes from deep within. I play what I feel and see as I live it. I want to express how we are affected by everything that happens in our personal lives and that which happens in the world around us. For this reason, my music is realistic and different. That’s my own way of music and my musical soul will never change until the day I die.
Generally speaking, how does the song and lyric writing process come about for you? Do you start with a concept and work around that or do other things prompt the music to spontaneously come forth?
Actually, I have to be under some kind of pressure, this usually inspires the concept that I will be featuring in the song I am creating along with lyrics to honestly deliver what I want to say.
Being in the business of creating music for so long, have you observed any noticeable changes in the heavy music scene in Cairo? How involved have you been with the scene over the years, if at all, and what are you thoughts on its current state?
Yeah, many things changed within music in Cairo the last few years for the better. Now there are many places to perform music and gigs. Also, I see there are good talented Egyptian bands making their own music.
I noticed some time ago that you offer bass lessons to people all over Egypt. What first got you into the practice of giving bass lessons and what is it about teaching others that you enjoy the most?
After a long time playing music, I decided in 2003 to give bass lessons and courses. I created my own teaching method for the people who want to take lessons. Sure, I enjoy giving bass lessons and courses to all. It's one of my favorite jobs beside my computers repair and graphic design work. I teach, and have taught, Egyptians, foreigners, and Arabians.
As someone that works hard on their solo project and doesn't expect much in return, you must truly have a passion for the music you produce. What is one of your earliest and fondest music related memories? Has music always been a big part of your life since childhood?
Rock and metal music are from my earliest and fondest memories. Yeah, music was always, and always will be, a big part of my life. I remember when I was young, a friend's parent was living abroad and they were sending band tapes to my friend. My friend made copies for me and, also, some friends living or vacationing abroad brought back stuff I was looking for when they came back to Egypt.
Aside from Konzaross, are there any other activities or projects that you are just as passionate about?
Yeah, sure I have many activates. I like nature, adventure, traveling to discover new strange mysterious places, and many more interests.
What are your future plans for Konzaross and for your style of music in general?
Actually, I do have plans in mind and I'm doing my best to realize them. But, I don’t talk about any till everything is in hand since I’m working alone. You can follow the news updates on my site. Everything comes in time.
Thank you for taking the time out to answer these questions. We really appreciate it. Are there any closing remarks that you would like to leave for our readers?
I want to send my greetings to all fans and audiences in Egypt and all over the world. I also wish them all the best.