x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The cream of the local crop performing at Creamfields Abu Dhabi

It’s not all global superstars performing at Creamfields Abu Dhabi. Saeed Saeed speaks to some of the local lights performing at the dance festival.

Hollaphonic. Courtesy: Hollaphonic
Hollaphonic. Courtesy: Hollaphonic

Creamfields Abu Dhabi returns on Friday with its most impressive line-up yet. Led by the veteran British party-starters The Prodigy, the leading spinner and pop producer Calvin Harris and the powerful electronic duo Disclosure, the event’s fifth edition should appeal to everyone from old-school ravers to modern pop fans. And tucked within all that high-profile action is a bevy of local and regional talent. We take a look at some of the artists calling the region home.

Hollaphonic, UAE

• The artist The biggest shot the UAE has of producing genuine pop stars. The Dubai duo of MC Olly Wood and the producer Greg Stainer have been consistently producing regional chart hits with the singles I Don’t Want It to End, Found You and Every Single Night. Their Creamfields Abu Dhabi performance will wrap up what has been a massive year for the group.

• The performance “We will be performing our new live show for the first time,” says Wood. “Alongside us will be three vocalists and a full visual show. We’re excited to showcase our new album to the Creamfields crowd and have the chance to connect with all our UAE fans. We can’t wait to bring the noise.”

Ahmad Ajam, Lebanon

• The artist: The 32-year old has been spinning party tracks since he was a teenager and is the go-to person for Beirut parties, sports events and fashion shows. His working ethic is to “spend four to five days a week in Lebanon and play anywhere for the rest”.

• The performance “It’s always been a party and everything to do with it from downtempo funk, deep, tech, vocal and progressive house to melodic banging ­techno.”

Asphyxia and Angelo, UAE

• The artist The Abu Dhabi progressive house duo have been working hard to raise the standard of the capital’s clubbing scene.

“The scene here is very slow-developing,” Angelo says. “The reason being, it is based on commercial music more than anything else.”

• The performance “It’s a great opportunity to show our style, to show our passion and skills for electronic music, as it’s very hard to do this in small venues or clubs here where the pressure of mainstream exists.”

Omar Bassad, Saudi Arabia

• The artist It all started when Bassad got his first beatbox at the age of 15. Nine years later he is a bona fide touring DJ and producer known regionally for his remixes.

• The performance “You have to watch it to believe it,” he says. When pushed a little further he says his sets “are mostly energetic and atmospheric”.

Mark Pickup, UAE

• The artist A DJ with his ear to the 1990s. Inspired by Alistair Whitehead and Sasha, the 36-year-old deep-house DJ is a regular party starter on Dubai’s clubbing scene.

• The performance “Expect a cool, deep disco vibe that will take the crowd up and down with live percussion thrown over the top.”

Ronin and Nesta, Lebanon

• The artist Separately known as Ronald Hajjar and Nabih Esta, the duo were DJing separately in Beirut until they were introduced through a friend online. After hitting it off, they performed in some of Beirut’s biggest parties before creating their own radio show Beirut in the Mix.

• The performance “House music is at the core of our sound,” says Hajjar, “so expect warm house grooves coming from the heart.”

Gunther and Stamina, Lebanon

• The artist Gunther Sabbagh learnt piano as a child before learning the DJ trade from his older brother. Meanwhile, his sidekick Stamina, real name Elias Merheb, began his career while travelling during the early 2000s and performing at small parties in Glasgow, Paris and Montreal before returning to Beirut.

• The performance Sabbagh says the duo will give their all for their biggest gig yet. “Creamfields Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity and the biggest event in the Middle East. It’s the best exposure a regional DJ can get.”

Creamfields Abu Dhabi is on Friday at the du Arena, Yas Island from 6pm. Tickets cost from Dh275 from www.ticketmaster.ae or by calling 800 (86 823). For set times go to the Scene&Heard blog on www.thenational.ae