Bands tend to have a life of their own, dependent on the ebb and flow of personnel and the evolving dynamic between their members. Additionally, as the various members strike out on their own personal projects, upon returning (if there is a return) the sound of the combined output changes significantly. This is more or less the story of new band Ritza which is the latest iteration of a band previously known as Maii Waleed Wel Asmak El Zaraa (Maii Waleed And The Blue Fish).
The core of both lineups are essentially the same. It is fronted by Maii Waleed who also plays keys with Ismail Seleit manning the synths, Youssef Abouzeid on guitar, Mohamed Mallawany on bass duties, and Hassan Seleit on drums (in place of Marwan Wahid). Waleed has come off a six-year collaborative stretch with Zeid Hamdan which produced a full-length album, MaiiandZeid and the EP Aadi. During the band hiatus the Seleit brothers and Abouzeid were part of El Manzouma with Aly Talibab. Ismail Seleit is a prolific solo artist and Abouzeid is of course known for his alter-ego band PanSTARRS, as well as many other musical projects such as Shlomo Casio.
All this interim activity has naturally had an effect on the sound produced by Ritza. The initial formation (or reformation) did not include Abouzeid and so the melodic sound was initially driven by Waleed’s keyboard work and Seleit’s synth arpeggios . But it wasn’t long before Abouzeid again joined up with them and added his characteristic feedback-drenched guitar work and clear-toned riffs. A prominent characteristic of Ritza is the heavy treatment of Waleed’s vocals which she does via a vocal effect box, and the metallic overtones dovetail nicely with the electro-synth energy emanating from the band as a whole.
As is evident from their live performances, and in the band’s own words, Ritza have created music that “ranges from mellow ambient sounds that demonstrate somber styles; to faster, tighter and more synth-dominated dance tunes.” Currently the band have released their first single, Shuk which ably demonstrates the band’s synth pop dance side, and plan an album release for some time in the summer.
On an additional note, check out Ritza’s Facebook page for an interesting design ethos and a penchant for glitchy dance gifs of the band mid-concert, which we are lapping up no end. And hear debut single Shuk on Dandin here.