x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

DJ Dion signs a six-figure deal

Dion Mavath, the Dubai-based house music DJ and producer, has become the first artist from the UAE to sign a record contract with a major international label.

The just-signed house music DJ Dion Mavath.
The just-signed house music DJ Dion Mavath.

DUBAI // Sometimes all a musician needs to go with their talent is a little good luck. Lady Gaga won a record deal after being heard by a record label boss singing at the other end of his hallway. MIA got her big break after doing the artwork for a band and following them on tour. Countless others have relied on the lottery of reality shows before going on to earn their millions.

Dion Mavath can now add his name to that list. Yesterday, the Dubai-based house music DJ and producer became the first artist from the UAE to sign a record contract with a major international label. Sony Music International announced yesterday that it had signed a "six figure" record contract with the Australian-born musician and longtime Dubai resident who has spent the last decade helping to make house music the dominant genre of the city's club scene.

"This was the dream for a very long time," said Mr Mavath. "It's definitely going to open a few more doors in terms of how many people hear my music." Mr Mavath had sent his mix-tape to major labels before, without success, but his big break finally came when an A&R rep from Sony heard his music playing on a car stereo. "When I first heard Dion Mavath's productions, I was immediately conquered," said Thomas Martenot, the chief of projects, A&R, for Sony Music International. "Upon meeting him, I was amazed by his talent, cool-headedness and professionalism.

"I'm very proud that Sony Music is signing him for a multi-album deal and will be developing his music and image on a worldwide scale." Sony wants to put out his last album, Warrior, for international distribution, as well as a second album, two singles, and an opportunity to produce further albums. This distribution will come with marketing and publicity support on a global scale, a monthly meeting at Sony's headquarters in Paris and the money to make his first music video.

Shooting of the video starts in Dubai on May 8, with local director Jad Aouad. Until now, Mr Mavath, a 34-year-old with one arm wreathed in tribal tattoos, has distributed his music through independent labels, such the UK-based house music powerhouse Defected or the German label S2G. He also runs his own Dubai-based label, Blush Records, through which he brings his music - normally as individual singles - to other labels to put out.

He first came to Dubai nearly a decade ago from Perth to take a job as a DJ at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel nightclub The Apartment. Back then, house music - the dominant genre in most Western club scenes - was something of an oddity. "When I first got here, the music scene was quite stale," he said. "R&B and Arabic music were pretty much the only types of music being played. "It took me three years, until 2004, to change the style of music that people were accepting as mainstream."

Mr Mavath wants his career to be tied to Dubai because "Dubai is growing, like I'm growing". khagey@thenational.ae