DUBAI // Two guitars take pride of place in the lounge, the piano has its own corner and the spare bedroom has been converted into a recording studio with an electronic drum kit, another guitar and an extensive array of digital recording equipment.
Yet Reiner Erlings cannot read a single note of music. The self-taught songwriter and music producer, who has worked with artists such as Karl Wolf, Diana Haddad, Flo Rida, Sean Kingston and Snoop Dogg, learnt to play by ear. "I still don't know how to read notes," said the 25-year-old Dutchman. "I just go by what I hear. I hear rhythms in my head, a hook of a song will naturally come up and I convert those sounds into notes using my instruments. It is a free-spirited way but it works for me and if I was to ever teach anyone, I would teach them in the same style."
He graduated with a business and general management degree from McGill University in Montreal, but Mr Erlings was always drawn to a career in music. After college he moved to London and set up his own production company, writing songs for local acts. He won two awards in the UK national songwriting competition Song Factor, judged by Tony Macaulay and Sir Tim Rice. In 2007, Mr Erlings came to Dubai because he saw great potential in the city.
"Dubai is a hub; a crossroads," he said. "There is an emerging film industry here and a strong advertising presence, which gives me the chance to compose, and there are many hugely talented artists simply dying to record. I had been here on holiday before and I knew it would be a great place to work from." In addition to his home studio, he rents out another for recording and producing. He has worked with local artists including Gayathri Krishnan, Juliana Down, Kaz Money and Jonas Desai. He also contributed to the City of Life sound track; his song Get Me Out plays in the background when the two characters Natalia and Guy spend the day on the boat.
As he suspected, Dubai has been a fruitful place for his career. "One of the other reasons I came here was to work with different people and learn about different cultures; to broaden my horizons. I have had the privilege to work with a huge variety of people here, it has been a pleasure." When he is not recording with an artist, he is busy songwriting. He wrote the song Fake Love for Flo Rida, arranged parts of Snoop Dogg's Drop It Like It's Hot and worked on engineering and recording the duet by Karl Wolf and Diana Haddad called Enta Maai Kul Hayati, or All My Life.
"I want to write a breakthrough track," he said. "Like Rihanna's Umbrella or Lady Gaga's Poker Face. That is my dream. Nowadays I usually have an artist in mind and I will write a song suitable for them. We have good relationships with Geffen Records, EMI and Sony BMG and I constantly pitch to them. Hopefully one day they will pick up one of our songs." Mr Erlings works in collaboration with another songwriter, Daniel Leary, who is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Having a partner was essential, he said, because "no one can do everything by themselves".
The men met in London after Mr Erlings began answering internet ads looking for creative collaborators. "I didn't have the best luck to start off," he said. "The first guy tried to steal my songs, the second tried to rob me, the third got violently sick and wrecked my bathroom and the fourth was Daniel. He was the least insane - we got on well." The pair have built up a good repertoire over the past five years, specialising in electronic, even "cheesy" pop.
"I love it," Mr Erlings said. "As a songwriter you have to love it. Ninety per cent of the songs in all cultures are about love and it has always been that way. "The style of music has evolved but the business is the same. I try to make them as catchy as possible." He dedicates a lot of his time to listening to new music released by mainstream artists, but ultimately his creations comes to him naturally.
"I have had melodies going around in my head for years and years and I always feel like I want to do more," he said. "To do what I do you must have a huge appreciation for music. The melody is the most important part of the song, in the end if you get that, it doesn't matter so much what the words are." email@example.com