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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

The flying Dutchmen: DJs Nicky Romero and Sam Feldt are on their way to SunSets Festival DXB

Romero and Feldt return to the UAE with acclaimed new singles and immersive live shows

Nicky Romero says new hit, 'Be Somebody', was driven by his dream to work with collaborator Steve Aioki Sunset Festival DXB
Nicky Romero says new hit, 'Be Somebody', was driven by his dream to work with collaborator Steve Aioki Sunset Festival DXB

Electronic dance music fans will find next weekend’s SunSets Festival in Dubai a tantalising prospect. Dutch DJs Sam Feldt and Nicky Romero will take the decks of the eco-friendly event to headline Thursday and Friday nights respectively, and show the crowd why they’re hailed as EDM’s future megastars.

Both spinners return to the UAE at differing points of their career. Romero, 29, the world’s 43rd best DJ according to DJ Mag’s Top 100, was a ubiquitous presence over this summer’s music season. He headlined most of the international stops of the Ultra Music Festival, and performed at the mammoth Tomorrowland event in Belgium. The I Could be the One and Symphonica, star is now set to end the year on a winning note after the positive reception to his new single Be Somebody. Viewed as another potential chart-topper, the sweeping self-empowerment anthem has Romero collaborating with superstar DJ Steve Aoki and American singer Kiiara.

Romero has more big things on the way

With the track becoming a mainstay of pop radio stations in the United States and European, Romero is happy his work is reaching a broader audience. “That song is doing very well for us and it is still growing. The song is important to me because it has that cross-over appeal,” he told us at the recent Amsterdam Dance Event. “I think the song works because it can be played anywhere. It has the melodies that mean it can be played on the radio, and it is also groovy enough to be played in the clubs.”

Romero says he initially agreed to the song purely so he could spend some studio time with Aoki. An unabashed fan of the US electro producer, Romero says working with Aoki was a fluid yet deliberate affair. “We never had the idea of making a song that can go on the radio,” he recalls. “It was a smooth process and we asked ourselves question like ‘what is our song about and what kind of music fits it best?’”

Romero credits the varied nature of his work to the experience he gained on his popular online weekly show, Protocol Radio, which covers various styles of dance music. “It started as a way to release new music to the fans, and then it was also about playing the music of my friends and other songs that I am enjoying during that week” he says of the one-hour programme. “A lot of artists are doing these shows now and they are great because it does bring you closer to the fans. I want the atmosphere of the show similar to you listening to me and my friends in the cafe.”

And more music is on the way. Romero says he will release a few more tracks in the coming weeks. “I finished Bittersweet last week, and I think that could be another big song for me.”

Sam Feldt is back on track with a Hollywood collaboration

The latest track from Thursday night headliner Feldt is a superstar collaboration of a different kind. The electro throb of Heaven (Don’t Have a Name), released this month, has the surprisingly bluesy vocals of Avengers star Jeremy Renner.

Sam Feldt's Dubai show is part of his comeback to the music industry after being involved in a scooter accident Sunset Festival DXB
Sam Feldt's Dubai show is part of his comeback to the music industry after being involved in a scooter accident

Feldt was introduced to the Oscar-nominated actor through their management, and he says working with Renner was a fun and straightforward process. Renner’s involvement was also responsible for the cinematic quality of the track. “I did have that specific theme in mind,” Feldt says. “But having Jeremy in there pushed it even more towards that direction. It has a big almost movie soundtrack that sounds great.”

The expansive nature of Heaven (Don’t Have a Name) is what makes Feldt such a promising artist to follow. He made a big impression last year following the release of his acclaimed debut album Sunrise. Powered by Yes, a hit single with rapper Akon, and a fun cover of La Bouche’s Europop staple, Be My Lover, Feldt says the album’s summery nature should go down well with the Dubai crowd.

“It is always fun there. I will be coming with the band and it will have a horns section,” he says. “The shows with the guys are great because it is more loose and sounds more natural. Also, playing with the band allows you to make certain songs even better.”

The Dubai show is also a personal milestone for Feldt, 25, as it is part of his comeback to the music scene after a scooter accident in July left him with a broken knee. With Feldt spending the European summer months – normally an important time for touring DJs – stuck in rehabilitation, he realised how short life can be. “The accident showed me that it can all be taken away from you, just like that” he says.

“It kind of woke me up and it also taught me patience … that it is OK to sometimes take things slowly and not rush into anything.”

SunSets Festival takes place from Thursday until Saturday at Barasti Beach in Dubai. Entry is free and doors open at 10pm. For more information on the event and its line-up, visit www.barastibeach.com

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