Dubai duo Hollaphonic make their voice heard
The UAE has been a haven for international DJs wanting to cash in on the country's enthusiastic dance music community. Now a Dubai duo hope to command their very own legion of fans.
Released on Monday, Hollaphonic's debut single I Don't Want it to End has all the ingredients of a commercial radio hit: a breezy melody, energetic rapping and catchy hooks.
It explains the record label interest in MC Olly Wood and the producer Greg Stainer; they eventually signed with EMI Music Arabia to become the label's first dance act.
Speaking from Stainer's home studio in Dubailand, where the duo hatched more than a dozen tunes, Wood explains that the single's release confirms Hollaphonic as a real deal now.
"When I heard it on the radio I was jumping around," he chuckles. "Before it was this sense of anticipation and wondering what people will think of it. Well, it's out there now and people have a chance to listen and criticise it if they want and we welcome it."
Not that the guys really have anything to worry about - the confident single is a result of their solid musical experience.
As well as a being a Radio 1 presenter, Stainer has been DJing in Dubai for more than a decade.
Wood cut his teeth as an MC supporting artists such as Deadmau5 and Busta Rhymes as well as performing in the popular indie-dance festival Bestival on England's Isle of Wight.
Stainer also found success as a producer with hit singles for Karl Wolf as well as remixes for leading dance labels such as Pacha Recordings and Hed Kandi.
Agreeing on their pop ethos, Wood explains that the duo immediately went to work and I Don't Want it to End is the result of that first songwriting session.
"We had in the back of our mind that we wanted to create something that the masses would embrace," says Wood. "What was created was an amalgamation of a lot of our influences and you could really hear them in the many layers in the song."
And there are more tunes to come. The duo are set to release up to four singles this year, including a startling, almost trance-like number featuring the Juliana Down singer Dia and remixes of I Don't Want it to End.
Whatever happens, Stainer says, the partnership been immensely beneficial.
"Just to be in the studio with someone and share and bounce off ideas is just great," he says. "Sometimes when you are working with singers, you get the feeling that I produce the track and they just sing, but with Olly we are working together."
Wood hopes the group's arrival allows other record labels and promoters to invest more in the UAE's fertile music community.
"The scene over here is vibrant," he says. "It's fashionable and cool, it's attracting more creative people and it can only get bigger and bigger."
• I Don't Want it to End is out now on iTunes through EMI Music Arabia. Visit www.facebook.com/Hollaphonic
* Saeed Saeed