47SOUL, an electro Arabic dabke band, is composed of four musicians from within Palestine and the diaspora: Z the People (vocals, synths), El Far3i (darouka, Mc/Vocals), Walaa Sbeit (percussion, Mc/vocals) and El Jehaz (guitar, vocals). Though each member has highly individual tastes and talents, their cohesion is a result of a specific sound, which they have dubbed shamstep. Forming in Jordan in 2013, they have since performed at several renowned festivals around the world, amassing a following through their frenzied, energetic live performances, as they preprocess the traditional Levantine dabke with electronic hip hop and a mixture of English and Arabic lyrics.
Their latest album, Balfron Promise, has already received acclaim and was The Guardian's January pick for world music album of the month. The album does not veer from the band's reputation of providing politically charged messages as they hope to generate more crossover appeal in the United Kingdom, in addition to their audiences in the Middle East. The name of the album is a reference to the Balfour Declaration, and the Balfron Towers in London, where they once resided, combining Palestinian politics in the 20th century with 21st century gentrification in London.
During their recent tour to Egypt supporting Balfron Promise, we joined 47Soul for a brief respite from the Cairo chaos, in the peaceful treehouse of Bardo Clubhouse. We talked to them about their origins, forming their own sound, and their new album.