Aya Metwalli (*1988) is an Egyptian singer/songwriter, composer and sound artist currently based in Beirut. She grew up in Cairo where her father would play non-stop Oum Kalthoum songs on road trips to the beach and her mother; known to have the most beautiful voice in the family, always sang at home and in gatherings with family and friends, and long before she was able to form her own music taste, Aya was fed immense amounts of Arabic classic songs and melodies that now lie on a bed of velvet inside her subconscious mind. Aya started fiddling with the upright piano they had at home around the age of four, and soon after she got her first solo singing gig on the pre-school stage and continued to perform Arabic song repertoires all throughout her school years. At the age of seventeen, she bought her first guitar and while she got her bachelor’s degree in English literature, she posted song covers on YouTube starting with tom waits, slowly gathering a growing online fan base, and soon after moved on to writing and composing her own original songs.
Described as “a musical enigma” by the guardian and a musician who has "crafted a spellbinding brand of anti-pop" by pitchfork, Aya has self-published over 30 songs, amassing over 3.7 million streams and over 37 thousand followers on SoundCloud. Starting with only her acoustic guitar and voice, she progressively expanded her music composition after studying music production in Cairo in 2014. She self released her debut EP "Beitak" toward the end of 2016 and has been revamping her sound and developing her modus operandi since. Using analogue synthesizers to produce gritty textures and strange, unsettling soundscapes, Aya sings, heavily influenced by Arabic pop and classic melodies, modulating her voice with electronics to delve even deeper into a world of eeriness, and uses heavy drones and drum machines to create a distorted, industrial body of sound marrying noise with melody.
Over the past few years, she has performed live sets at Norbergfestival in Sweden, la magnifique avant-garde in France, Irtijal festival in Lebanon, played with the Lebanese free-rock powerhouse trio Calamita at CTM festival, been featured in Nicolas Jaar’s "sound- and light installation: retaining the energy, but losing the image" at het hem in the Netherlands, and most recently composed for and performed with the renowned vocal ensemble Neue Vocalsolisten in the framework of Eclat festival 2021 in Germany. Besides music, Aya has also completed a three-year intensive contemporary dance training program at Cairo contemporary dance centre from 2012 till 2015, and performed and toured with Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour in his dance theatre piece “Layl” (night) in 2019.
At present, Aya is working on her debut LP album and is further exploring live performance, continuing to incorporate theatricality into her shows.
A residency in cooperation with Goethe-Institut Libanon