Marwan Parham Al Awadhi, aka DJ Bliss, is one of the first Emiratis to break through into the international music scene. He was a speaker at a recent TEDx event hosted by Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, where he spoke about the importance of following dreams.
How did you get into music?
I don't think I found music; music found me. I first started off DJing at high school parties and running my high school radio station. That turned into DJing some parties while at university, where I studied computers because my Dad told me I had to study computers. When I came out of university, I was like: "This is definitely not for me." So I followed the voice within me to follow my dreams which was to eventually be in music.
How did your family take it?
I got into radio and my Dad was like "Baba, what are you doing? Why can't you work at Pepsi or Philips like your brothers?" But even though he used to encourage me not to do it, he was still very proud. It was very difficult at the start because I was getting into an industry that wasn't really tolerated by our culture necessarily. I never gave up because that's what I wanted to do.
What's your advice to those starting out on their career paths?
Follow your dreams. I am not saying get into music; I am not trying to turn everyone into Rapper MC - please, no. If you are studying something, thinking about your future, make sure you do something that you love. Honestly, it could be anything from engineering to architecture to climbing mountains. Know what you want and that's how you'll get it.
What's it been like working with Wyclef?
I always had a list of who I wanted to interview and it was a group called the Fugees. I was DJing at the Formula One in Abu Dhabi last year and the organiser called me at the club and said: "I've got Wyclef from the Fugees. Can you DJ for him?" So I said:"Of course." Then he said we should get into the studio and record some music together. We got three-and-a half songs done before he left and he said: "You should come to NYC to record some more songs." Today is the day that Wyclef's new album drops and the first single of his new album is a song that was produced by myself and Prince Q.
You get asked this a lot, but who inspires you?
I never really had an answer for this. I am self-taught: I never studied TV, never studied radio, never studied DJing. If somebody was DJing I would just stand there and ask questions and I learnt. But this guy was grilling me; after five minutes I told him: "You know what inspires me? I get up every day I look in the mirror and I'm like you. You. You. You inspire me."
You can inspire yourself.