Mo Abdelsattar has quite a story. A professional tattoo artist by trade (he tattooed Amr Diab), he spent over a decade living in Russia. During this time, he began playing music for yoga classes; specifically, ney. It was also in Russia that he came into contact with his current instrument of choice: the handpan. The progenitor of all handpans was the Hang, which starting in the early 2000s, gained wide popularity. Soon, other companies began to produce similar products, widening the availability of the phenomenon.
Surely those who have traveled a bit have run into someone busking with a handpan, palming out meditative bell-like notes, in a hit-no-wrong-note reverie. New agers the world over have found their souls in these melodic UFOs, and thus they touched down on the planet of spiritual music.
Abdelsattar developed his chops on the handpan, even composing some songs on it. Along with the ney and handpan, he plays the didgeridoo, the Australian aboriginal drone instrument. He claims to be one of about four handpan players in Egypt, and has found himself falling into opportunities to play the instrument live. When we met up with him at Darb 1718, he was about to do a show with Jane Jelita Chen, an Indonesian singer, choreographer and martial artist. We sat down with him right before this, to talk about his affinity for the instrument, spirituality, and the place of music in his life.
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