Founding Editor Simon Broughton Publisher & Managing Director Paul Geoghegan Editor Russ Slater Johnson Assistant Editor Emma Rycroft Art Director Juliet Boucher Advertisement Manager James Anderson-Hanney Online Content Editor James McCarthy Listings Editor Tatiana Rucinska Assisted this issue by Gez Addictive, Lee Birch, Spencer Grady, Benjamin Kilian, Emily Priest Marketing Manager John Barnett Marketing Assistant Oscar Faulkner Cover Image Optimus Dammy Contributing Editors Jane Cornwell, Mark Ellingham & Nigel Williamson Subscriptions Director Sally Boettcher Editorial Director Martin Cullingford CEO Ben Allen Chairman Mark Allen SUBSCRIPTIONS UK: 0800 137 201 Overseas: +44 (0)1722 716997 subscriptions@markallengroup.com ADVERTISING +44 (0)20 7501 6683

Death bed blues

We’re surely all in agreement that artificial intelligence will have some impact on music. Yet, at the moment it feels like the responses to its intrusion are either overblown, as with the reaction to Paul McCartney using AI to isolate a vocal take on a Beatles track (technology has always been vital in isolating vocals, as when The Beatles fashioned ‘Free Bird’ out of a John Lennon demo), or consider it a novelty. Enterprising TikToker Ghostwriter977 and their upload of a track purportedly by Drake and The Weeknd, but in fact AI-generated, caused a case of the latter.

I had been wondering when the world of AI would come knocking on Songlines’ door, and that has now happened, opening up an interesting debate in the process. Last month Egyptian musician Amr Mostafa previewed his new single, ‘Aftekerlak Aih’ (What I remember about you), with a social media post, featuring the voice of Oum Kalthum singing the track. The clip was swiftly removed and replaced with a new image, explaining that the Kalthoum collaboration had been created using AI. His new single was eventually released with the non-computer-generated and very-much-alive Mai Farouk taking lead vocal duties.

(the production company that holds the rights to Kalthoum’s music), went on Egyptian television to stress that it was unlawful to use Kalthoum’s songs or intellectual property rights, even if AI-generated, without the permission of the license owner.

What’s most interesting about this is that he then went on to say that this incident was especially contentious as it happened before 50 years had passed since Kalthoum’s death in 1975, as this is the period of copyright in Egypt. In that statement Gaber made it known that from 2025 onwards it will be fair game for anyone to use Kalthoum’s image, voice and name without permission (as reference, in the UK it would be 70 years after a musician’s death that their image would be in the public realm).

Considering Kalthoum’s standing in Egypt, surely we can then expect to hear a lot more of her voice in two years time. Kalthoum’s granddaughter, Gihan El Desouky, has already stressed her concerns in this regard. “We feared that the use of this technology would make her music go the way of mahraganat ,” she told Egyptian television, fearing that her voice will adorn new productions of the DIY electro-folk style. God forbid, but it will happen!

It was a stroke of genius for Amr Mostafa as it gave his single a huge dose of publicity, especially when Mohsen Gaber, the owner of Alam El Phan

Russ Slater Johnson, Editor


Part of


Songlines is published by MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Rd, London, SE24 0PB, UK +44 (0)20 7738 5454 info@songlines.co.uk www.songlines.co.uk

© MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, 2023. All rights reserved. No part of Songlines may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission of the publishing director. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the editor or Songlines advertisements in the journal do not imply endorsement of the products or services advertised. Please read our privacy policy, by visiting privacypolicy.markallengroup.com. This will explain how we process, use and safeguard your data. ISSN 1464-8113. Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Dowlais, CF48 3TD Record trade distribution Songlines 020 7738 5454 Newstrade distribution Marketforce 020 3787 9101

Thérèse Wassily Saba Thérèse is a music journalist, musician and

a devotee of f lamenco and Arabic music. Having seen Israel Fernández make his London debut in 2013, she was excited to

speak to him ten years later (see p26).

Doug DeLoach Doug has been covering world music for more than 40 years. His column, Listening Post, appears in Creative Loafing (Atlanta, Georgia). He gives a Beginner’s Guide to

Nickel Creek on p68.

Celeste Cantor-Stephens Celeste is a musician, writer and educator who works at the intersection of arts and

social justice. This issue, she speaks to African Head Charge’s Bonjo and Adrian

Sherwood on p38.

Songlines was launched in 1999 and is the definitive magazine for world music – music that has its roots in all parts of the globe, from Mali to Mexico, India to Iraq. Whether this music is defined as traditional, contemporary, folk or fusion, Songlines is the only magazine to truly represent and embrace it. However, Songlines is not just about music, but about how the music f its into the landscape; it’s about politics, history and identity. Delivered in both print and digital formats, Songlines, through its extensive articles and reviews, is your essential and independent guide to a world of music and culture, whether you are starting on your journey of discovery or are already a seasoned fan.