Arab pop music meets 80s video game aesthetics in Moath Bin Hafez’s pixel art creations
Discovering that he needed visuals to accompany his remixes, the artist began creating looping pixel videos to match his nostalgic, video game-inspired music.
- Olivia Hingley
- 5 August 2022
As many creatives have experienced, one medium can often lead into another. This was the case for digital artist Moath Bin Hafez, whose musical journey and work as a music producer have led him down the winding, glitchy path to the wonderful world of pixel art. His digital artwork began after realising that he needed to adapt his chip-tune remixes of Arab pop music to the very “visual” platform of Instagram, and so he set himself on creating some lo-fi visuals to match. Now, Moath is a seasoned multi-disciplinary creator, producing short catchy videos, full of old-school audio and quintessential Arab pop culture aesthetics.
As a child Moath’s love of music was sparked by one of his other great loves – video games. “Like many kids from the 80s, I was enthralled by video games,” he says. “I played a lot of Microsoft and Nintendo games, and to me, music was always the most memorable part.” What most inspired Moath about his beloved video games was how the designers and composers adapted to and worked around the very “primitive” consoles, “the idea of working with limited tools to fuel your creativity resonates with me a lot”, he says. But while Moath may admire his digital forebears, he’s grateful for the flexibility advances in technology now offer. “Modern technology definitely makes creating this kind of art easier,” he says, “and it also allows you to avoid limitations from using old hardware, like a limited colour palette.”
When making his pixel creations, Moath usually starts by making the track, allowing himself to focus on – and be inspired by – “nostalgic moments in Arabic pop culture”. Making sure the track is recognisable and digestible to someone scrolling on their Instagram feed, he then begins work on the visuals. Importantly, Moath always looks for his visuals to be fun – both to make and watch – and even, sometimes, slightly ridiculous.
This approach shines through in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire video. Moath says the Arabic version of the show is “insanely popular”, so he took great enjoyment in juxtaposing the host, George Kordahi, with the Las Vegas stage from the Street Fighter 2 video game. Remixing the instantly recognisable theme tune with the incongruous visuals, the resulting culture clash is one we may not have known we needed, but one we’re certainly glad we got. Next, Moath is hoping to release his first EP on Spotify – here’s hoping for a feature-length pixel art music video to match!
Moath Bin Hafez (Copyright © Moath Bin Hafez, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.