Moody Jones: An Egyptian Music Virtuoso with Global Reach

By: Mariam Elhamy

He’s worked with some of the biggest international recording artists like Iggy Azalea and Tyga, and last month he lit things up at Cairo Jazz Club. We caught up with DJ/Producer/Promoter Moody Jones and learned more about his extensive career in music, working with rap superstars, and what advice he would share with beginners who want to hit the big time.

You grew up in Saudi Arabia, when did you play your first gig and what inspired this love of music?

My first gig was in Montreal when I was 17, but growing up in Saudi I used to always play at underground hip-hop parties.

My first mix tape was a collection of my favorite Disney tunes. I remember loving the Lion King tape because it was lime green. Even then I was very particular about how things looked!

Why did you start playing music?

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, the songs played on the radio were always what they thought we wanted to listen to. I can’t remember a single good song playing on the radio, aside from Drive by Incubus. There were millions of tracks out there every day, so why do I have to listen to the same 12 songs every day?

I’m also a fan of the underdog. I stop listening to artists when they blow up. My love and support for you is no longer valuable. I’d rather invest in someone else who needs it. In my sets, I always include artists that no one else plays and if someone plays the songs I picked, I don’t play it anymore.

Which famous musicians have you learned a lot from?

Snoop Dogg is just my idol. I’ve been to this guy’s house and have seen how he functions. He’s one of these people that sees everything as an opportunity and everything he does makes money at the same time. If you can make money being yourself, then that’s the dream.

Are you influenced by old records and tapes? If so which ones?

I am influenced by records that come out today, but sound old. It could have instruments from the 90s with a groove from the 2000s and vocal styles from the 80s, so it crosses over.

What advice would you give beginners?

Practice. You can’t be nervous if you’re playing a banger. You’re only going to be nervous if you’re not sure of the song. I test it on my girlfriends; if the girls like it, everyone else is going to like it. If the girls dance to it, everyone else will.

If you weren’t DJing, what you’d be doing?

I’d be in an office with other artists figuring out their releases; 95% of my time, I help other artists grow. I only do DJing when I am on vacation.

Tell us about your collaborations with artists like Iggy Azalea and Tyga?

I’ve been working with Tyga even before Empire, I used to market all his music videos. I met Snoop randomly at the Osheaga Festival, we hung out in his hotel room and it was Ramadan at the time. I remember he guilt-tripped me because I am a Muslim and should be fasting. I do all Iggy’s marketing from videos to merchandise.

Last message to the readers?

Listen outside your bubble. Watch outside your screen. Forget the borders and expand. Just because something doesn’t fit, doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t like it. Stop thinking music is consumed only with ears. It’s 2020, people look at it before listening, so music is also consumed visually. Think about that when you’re working on your music.

Read more about Cairo’s Music Scene