x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The Flex online music show returns

The UAE online entertainment sensation The Flex returns to our computer screens this week. We speak to the host and producer Sandice Holland about what season two holds

Sandice Holland, the producer and host of the online music channel The Flex. Ravindranath K / The National
Sandice Holland, the producer and host of the online music channel The Flex. Ravindranath K / The National

The concept

It’s not an online show. That’s a misconception the host and producer Sandice Holland clears up immediately. With up to six different programmes, ranging from one to 20 minutes, Holland explains The Flex is its very own online music channel. “We offer different segments within The Flex and the website even has its own programme guide,” she says. “There is a lot of variety and each part has a different focus from performance to interviews.”

The host

Holland describes herself as a “one-woman band”. The 26-year-old explains the show was inspired by her own artistic frustration. Born in London to English and Jamaican parents, Holland first arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1997 after her father was hired by Abu Dhabi Media (which owns The National). After studying music production and entertainment law in England, the once aspiring rapper returned to the capital in January last year and was disheartened by the local music scene’s lack of profile. “It is not like there was nobody around,” she said. “There are many talented people here, but there was no platform at all to show that.” After working as the production coordinator for the Abu Dhabi TV talent show Million’s Poet, Holland went out on her own to launch and self-fund The Flex last October. The debut season’s success not only resulted in more than 3,500 Likes on the programme’s Facebook account, but sponsorships including the likes of Red Bull and MyDubaiMyCity.com started rolling in.

The style

Think of it as a regular catch-up with a local music aficionado. Holland will present more than 60 segments to be broadcast during the six-month season. At least two segments will be shown each week. Sundays at 6pm is Flexessions, featuring stripped down acoustic performances by a local artist. At 6pm on Wednesdays, the Minute to Kill It will be uploaded showcasing local rappers spitting their freshest verses in fewer than 60 seconds. This second season will find local poets in the mix courtesy of Word Play. The spot, kicking off next Monday (running under five minutes) will have a spoken-word artist recite their favourite work.

The guests

The majority are not household names; that’s the way Holland likes it. The Flex is about discovering fresh sounds rather than celebrity gossip. Last year’s guest list included the local leading lights Hamdan Al Abri, Melisa Le Rue and Ash Hamman. However, there’s always room to chat to big names when in town. The debut season had the I Need A Dollar singer Aloe Blacc on the couch, while season two holds interviews with the rapper Akon and the “Dancehall King” Beanie Man.

The format

“It is the future,” Holland says, regarding the online medium. “You have a lot of freedom in terms of the content and presentation.” Holland says online is becoming an increasingly favoured destination for music fans and artists alike. It was for this reason that she shrugged off initial offers of moving the programme to a local English television network. She trusts in the growth of the online medium. “I tend to stick to my guns,” she says. “I mean, I would consider television if this online thing fails. But we can’t talk about that at this stage. It’s only the beginning.”

 

• The Flex begins tonight at 6pm. For broadcast details, go to www.howweflex.com. Visit our Scene&Heard blog for an interview with Melanie Carpenter, the general manager of the online entertainment channel Capital List TV

sasaeed@thenational.ae

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