Khaled Matar is an account executive for the digital team at Edelman, a global public relations firm with offices throughout the Emirates. Outside the office, he's all about the music.
q You only moved to the Emirates a few months ago. Where were you before this?
a I was born and raised in London. Two years ago, I got a job offer at Facebook in Dublin. Basically, I was the first Arabic hire there. I had to make a help centre for people using the site in Arabic in the Middle East. Before that, I was working as a radio presenter in Cairo. Our station didn't have a big budget. We had to start using social media as a tool [for] promoting our shows.
q How has that social media experience helped your new gig in PR?
I work with a variety of clients on their digital platforms and digital solutions that they want to create for different marketing materials. I like creative stuff. I studied film in university and can edit movies. I've ended up creating music for different pitches and presentations.
q You create your own music as a hobby. When did that start?
It started around 13 with a simple cassette player, where you hit "record", then just grew to using the sound recorder [and] virtual synthesizers on a computer. I'm self-taught and kind of learnt to pick up on sounds: what are the right levels? What sounds good, and what does not? I compose music, write lyrics and produce and sing. No one else is involved in the process.
q What genre does your sound fit into?
My music is very pop, dance. It's fun, upbeat. The lyrics and singing are always secondary to my production.
q Do you sing in English or Arabic?
I prefer to sing in English. I like to take elements from Arabic music - maybe vocal samples from famous songs or Arabic-sounding drum beats - and mix them with the electro-sound I have.
q How often are you creating music during your spare time?
I do it quite a lot. I really find it therapeutic on the weekend. It's the one thing I can completely immerse myself into for hours and hours. It does take a lot of time to mix tracks, record and get the right samples. If I intensely work on a song, and I want to get it down, it'll be two, three days. Sometimes a song will be spread out over a few weeks.
q So are you hoping to morph this into a full-time career?
I like to keep it as my off hours. The good thing about it is I don't feel it's a job. If I had to toil away in the studio for hours and hours, I don't know if I'd like it anymore.
q Does it ever become too much, even as a hobby?
When it's intense, sometimes you just need to leave the laptop, have a cup of coffee then come back.
* Neil Parmar