In Conversation with London-Based, Egypt-Bred R&B Artist NOVO

Quickly climbing up the international ranks, London-based Egyptian artist and producer, NOVO is making big strides as an independent artist; split between two worlds, he began finding his voice by experimenting with a colorful spectrum of genres and styles. From R&B and hip-hop to jazz and pop, the Egyptian-bred artist crafts an impressive diversity of sounds often underpinned by emotionally-charged lyrics and a distinct somber flair.

Since kicking off his musical career, NOVO has been steadily rising in the ranks, racking up millions of views and growing a massive fanbase of loyal listeners internationally. Through careful collabs with some of MENA’s most promising talents, NOVO is quickly becoming a fan-favorite. Dropping a number of hit tracks over the last year, the Egyptian singer and multi-genre producer is reaching new creative peaks and he’s finally getting his shot on the big stage—a win for international artists everywhere.

Given your international following and success, what keeps you in Egypt?

I had lived the majority of my life in Egypt and only decided to move away to study abroad. For those years, I thought that coming back to Egypt would be a nightmare. But in truth, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. I needed to lay solid foundations and build something for the future HERE and not somewhere else. I will have time to travel the world more and explore different avenues in music but for the time being, I’m meant to be here and I’ll do the best I can to continue pushing the threshold.

What inspires your music? What genres and styles do you blend and experiment with? What differentiates your music from others with a similar sound?

My music is based on years of experimentation with a number of genres including Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk and Pop.  I also focus on listening to other languages and cultures and take inspiration from their interpretation of music. This was explored vastly in London where I worked with some of the best musicians. It gave me a real sense of the kind of music I want to be making for myself and not just production. I fuse elements of R&B with Pop and sometimes Disco, Afrobeats, and Funk to the mix. What makes my music different are the elements played and selected. Each kick, snare, melody and bass are carefully picked to match the emotions I want to convey to the listener.

For someone unfamiliar with your work, what would you want them to know about you and your music?

I have always been fascinated with music since I was eight. I bought my first guitar and joined a few bands along the way. I started singing at the age of 13, coincidentally since we had no lead singers. That led to me to pursue my own path of producing content on YouTube. I did numerous covers with many Egyptian talents for about three years. It was only when I travelled to London to study Aerospace Engineering, that I took the decision to approach music professionally. I met insane talents out there and harvested everything I could. This motivated me to transform my home into a makeshift studio for artists to come in and record on my beats.

In late 2017, I came back to Egypt to serve in the military. As depressing as it was, every day I had more reasons to stay than leave. I released my debut project, Love or Madness on Nov 2021, a 7-track project that explores and discusses the toxic relationship loop that never seems to end. I produced for a lot more indie artists and released a catalogue of music in English including my hit singles, ‘Little Bit’ and ‘Nobody’. Fast forward a few years, I opened up a studio with musical wizards, Issa & Assouad working with the best talents Egypt has to offer whilst also making major moves in my career with my recent single BTFL featuring pre kai ro.  We also produced arguably the best commercial of 2022 in WE’s Akwa Mix featuring Wegz and Mekky.

What is your favorite track that you released?

None. I am yet to release a track that can be called my favorite. But I have fond memories of ‘Little Bit’ and ‘Doin the Most’ since they introduced my art to the world, debuting on Nile FM and being play-listed for three months straight.

What are some of the obstacles you faced during your career?

There are too many to count. No one put money into my pocket; I was financially on my own. I had to work crazy hours to get where I am right now. No one was willing to take a chance on me, in the UK and in Egypt. I am still an independent artist until this day which makes every release more difficult than the one before. How do I get my music out there? Who can I trust? Who can I work with? How am I going to sustain this kind of career without proper resources? You are in control but that also means that you have to focus on the other factors that could make your music successful – get in the mud and stay there. You will learn a lot more than by just being a spectator. I never felt satisfied and I still don’t but I think that is what separates me from the rest.

Where do you hope to go next?

I hope to bring a lot more success to my home country by releasing a few singles in 2022 as well as exploring the Arabic language a bit more in depth with the goal of helping expand the Egyptian music scene outside of its current borders and into the forefront whether that is through my own songs or through the records we produce. One thing is for certain though: this scene is still taking shape and form… we haven’t even scratched the surface – exciting isn’t it?

7agat 7elwa Tanya Kidda

NOVO Links Up with Production Duo Issa & Assouad in New Single ‘In My Head’

MILAN PYRAMID GUEST CONTRIBUTION: How I Felt More Arab in One Week in Paris than 26 Years in Milan

From Okhtein to BVLGARI: Fashion Design District Brings Immersive Haute Couture Experience to Cairo

Big Murk Makes Rap Debut in New Grime Banger Featuring Heavyweights Rknddn & Dakn

Cairo’s Experimental Selectors Gather for Ten-Hour Sonic Onslaught at Sound of Noize’s ‘Dawash’

Morocco & Tunisia Snag Nominations at this Year’s Medlife Film Festival in Rome