Born in Australia, I am a singer/songwriter that has been in the music industry for the past three decades. I began my career in the entertainment industry via my first passion; acting. However, my love for music was undeniable and so began my journey into music and the music industry. My music spans across many genres that include Pop, Rock, Dance, R&B and in my latter years; World. I began to really incorporate my Egyptian roots into my music and explore a whole new world of artistic expression. Since my debut album in 2004, I have released 12 albums including 3 greatest hits albums and my new b-sides collection. I released my new b-sides collection "Songs from the other side" on February 9th, 2023 in line with my mother's birthday. I really hope the fans enjoy this one.
My career in the entertainment industry began in theatre. I was 12 years old when I was cast in my first acting role in the theatrical production of "French Blue". Since then, I had starred in a number of theatrical productions until my passion for music became undeniable. My first single as a recording artist was released in 1995 at the age of 17. The entitled "They don't care" was about struggles with school bullying and self-worth. It was part of a compilation album that was released the same year. Although my dedication to education put music on hold for a while. It was a struggle trying to get in the front door of any record label and I was constantly ignored or knocked back. I decided to pursue my own path in the music industry by fully funding and recording my debut album. I began to work with various songwriters from Australia and throughout the world. Lisa Butler and Chris Headford were two well known Australian songwriters that I had collaborated with along with a number of others to put my debut album together.
In releasing my first album I was a little too eager to get myself out there. Looking back at things now; I realise that maybe I should have taken my time. As you know, first impressions last. Luckily for me, they didn't. It was 2003 when I released the first single for the album. The single "Nasty" was released online worldwide and peaked at #3 on the Soundclick Music Charts. Despite it's Top 5 success, the song was far from good. It would be fair to say its success could be put down to just really good promotional management. By the time the album itself was released in 2004; reviews were less than stellar. My debut album "mojo" was meant to be my way of introducing myself to the world, but it didn't go down well. With critics it was an epic fail and within certain communities it was an abomination. I think my biggest mistake with my debut album was allowing other people to take artistic control. It wasn't really me and none of the songs were a reflection of who I was as a person. The album barely sold 300 copies worldwide and that was with heavy promotion involved. The most controversial song in my music career "Can you handle this" overshadowed the entire album. Some may say that would be considered a good thing, as the album itself was questionable. Whilst I am not someone who is apologetic when it comes to my music; mistakes were made and I needed to take control. In any case, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. In this case, losing artistic control and direction to those in power at the time and even to my own naivety was a blessing in disguise.
I decided to take back some control and rather than having other people write my songs for me, I began to write and produce my own music. After writing and recording new material for my follow up album, I was ready to have it heard and prepared for release. The album entitled "Mohammed Salem's Street Symphony" was an album that told a story. It was heavily themed around social and political issues. I was advised by many that releasing an album with such a serious tone and being my name was Mohammed; it wasn't a good idea. However, I never let this phase me. I was determined to make things happen on my own terms.
In 2005, the album's first single "Trust a try" was released and the album soon followed. Other songs from the album including "Make a change" and "Street symphony" were hailed as ground breaking. It was at that moment, I felt the tides turning in my favour. I wanted to keep the momentum going, so as the album and singles were doing their rounds on the charts; I was already writing and recording new material for a new album. Finally feeling in control of my music, I wanted to take it a step further. In late 2005 I launched my own music label "Salem Entertainment". I wanted to ensure that I controlled the rights to my music. It was my first step in going from singer/songwriter to businessman.
Due to the mild success of my second album; I was contacted by a number of artists and producers from around the world. Soundclick really helped open doors for me and it really gave me a platform. I was contacted by Fin DJ Jarno Lethonen, known as DJ Jenkki. This would be the beginning of a 15 year music collaboration that would lead into where I am right now.
By November 2005, I released the first single "Fantasy" from my third album "Ritual of Love" which was released in 2006. The theme of the album surrounded that of love, lust and sexual fantasies. DJ Jenkki produced club remixes to the song that would see it peak at #1 globally on both the Soundclick Music Charts and Club Charts. To this day, the song is the most successful release in my music career.
The album produced a number of hits, but it was "Fantasy" that became my first #1 hit globally.
After tackling Pop and R&B; I was ready to take myself into a new direction. My fourth album; "The Chronicles of Mimi" was released in 2007. Heavily influenced by Rock; it was a genre I never thought I'd be any good at. Although my love for Pink Floyd, The Scorpions, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana steered me in this direction. If only for a short while, this was the genre that put me on the map. The album became the biggest selling album in my career and produced a string of #1 singles. The theme of the album was a dark one. I wanted to get personal and let people in; if only just a little bit. The album dealt with grief, pain, self worth or the lack of it. It was and still is one of my most personal albums to date. The songs "Stained & Lonely", "Sin" and "Empty Apologies" peaked at #1 on the Soundclick Music Charts.
The success of the album encouraged me to go on my first ever world tour. Sold our shows in various venues throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia after kicking off in Australia. It was really an exciting time for me. Unfortunately, I was struck ill by the last leg of the tour and was hospitalised for a couple of months.
In 2008, my fifth studio album "OUT" was released. The album was later re-released with a new title; "Peepshow" which was also the title of the first single.
The album was a commercial let down compared to the previous album, but did produce two more #1 hits entitled "I don't know why" and "Balady". The song "Balady" means 'my country' in Arabic. However, the context in which the title was used was via another meaning; which is that of a villager. Although the album was not as successful as its predecessor; I did go on tour to promote the album. It was on a smaller scale and a little more intimate; but that's that this whole album was about.
After taking some time off, I began work on my sixth studio album "The Greatest Gift". This album was all about being grateful to family and friends for being my rock. In many ways it was a 'thank you' album. The album was released in 2010 and the album's first single "Make me feel" went to #1. I was really happy with the vibes this album was giving out. I guess you could say I was in a very happy space, even if it were for a short while. In 2011, the Egyptian revolution kicked off. Many know it as the Arab Spring. It was a very difficult time for me and my family. In fact, both my parents and I were in Egypt at the time of the revolution. Some of the things I experienced were absolutely horrific and some of what I experienced showed real unity and solidarity. I saw both sides of humanity; the good and the bad. I expressed myself the only way I knew how; through my music. Soon after the uprising, I released a song dedicated to the Egyptian revolution called "Egypt 2501" which was the English version. I also released an all Arabic version entitled "Masr 2501" which is just the Arabic word for Egypt. Later in 2011, I released my seventh studio album "Mimi". This was my nickname growing up and for many years I hated it until I learned to embrace it. It was all part of growing up I guess.
This was my first dance album and I was happy to broaden my horizons and I felt that at this point in my musical journey; I was ready to celebrate. I wanted to mark my journey with an album that showcased a collection of my favourite songs that brought me to where I was at that particular time.
In 2012, "From mojo to Mimi: The Very Best of Mohammed Salem" was released.
It wasn't until 2014 that I released my next album. This was the album that really did take me a lifetime to make. Not since 2007, did I release an album that was so deep, dark and immensely personal. The album "Diary of a Madman" really exposed me in ways I never thought I was able to before. Dealing with depression, self loathing and suicidal thoughts is something no-one should have to go through alone. For me, music was my escapism but it was also my way of dealing and healing. Tracks like "Waking the monster" and "Suicide" were real eye openers.
This album was so deep, so personal and it fast became my second biggest selling album ever. I went on a world tour to promote the album which took a toll on me. In 2016, I released my greatest hits album "Divo: Hits & Mixes" with one new song "Enta Habibi". The bilingual track hit #1 globally, but I needed to step back. I felt that musically, I had nothing left to give. When I finally did come around to wanting to write some new material and possibly record a new album; my family and I were faced with the passing of my father.
The COVID pandemic allowed me to reflect and give me an opportunity to work on my albums "Explosive: The Remix Collection" and the deluxe edition respectively which were released in 2020. In 2022 I released "Greatest Hits" and in 2023 I was happy to release my favourite collection of b-side tracks in the new album "Songs from the other side".
I've travelled the world and predominantly have toured the Middle East and Europe. I really love performing in Egypt and France. Those two countries have a special place in my heart. A special moment was performing at the Cairo Opera House in 2014 for my "Diary of a Madman World Tour"; a place where legends have performed. I'm very honoured to be a part of that.
My musical influences have ranged from Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, to Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Nirvana. I love all kinds of music from Pop, Rock, R&B and Dance, to Opera and World music. I think that's all reflected in my music.
Piano is my instrument of choice. It makes me feel humble.
SONGS FROM THE OTHER SIDE - OUT NOW!