Homegrown :: Somalie

Dubai is bursting at the seams with local talent, some terrific, some down right terrible. Each week (hopefully, if we’re not too partied out) OHM will profile one of the more terrific resident regulars round town for a little something we like to call ‘Homegrown’. Here’s Somalie…

Where are you from?

I’m a Dubai born, of Somali origin, but please don’t hold that against me!

Why are you a DJ and why Dubai? Tell us a bit about you and your sound…

Well ironically I used to loathe DJs and the whole concept of DJing simply for the fact that I started a career in music being a musician and a bassist for several Rock and Heavy Metal bands in my childhood, so I was raised on the band culture and that DJs are just there to ruin our chances at getting down with the girls! Eventually, it didn’t take long for me to follow the ‘if you can’t beat’em…join’em!’ policy. And why Dubai? Well for many reasons, the first being that it is my hometown. And secondly, I don’t think DJing in Somalia is an option! On a serious note though, I’ve been very lucky to DJ around Dubai, since I mainly play Drum ‘n Bass and Dubstep, there aren’t many nights around Dubai that host those genres of dance music, and there aren’t many DJs who play them as well. DJing right now in Dubai has never been better for me, especially with the growing clubbing culture and the rise of Dubstep as a formal form of dance music.

How did you start DJing, vinyl, CD’s or software? Do you think those without vinyl foundations are true to the craft? Do you think the artistry of Djing has been lost?

Like any other person who started to learn DJing in Dubai, I started out on CDs and that’s because of the lack of record stores in Dubai, I still remember when Ohm Records was the only store in the Dubai that sold vinyl (and still is!). I strongly believe that a DJ is like a conductor of an orchestra; it’s the track selection, crowd interaction and overall stage performance that count regardless of the format in which the music is being played. Today, DJs are like the popstars of the 70s, the rockstars of the 80s and the hip hop stars of the 90s. And personally I’d rather rave at a club where the DJ interacts with the crowd than one who just stands there and flips records trying to look all-cool. If I wanted to listen to a boring DJ, I’d just do that at home and put my Windows Media Player on random play. I think the art of DJing isn’t lost at all; there is just the good DJs and the bad ones, and sadly most of the bad ones are currently in the limelight.

Do you think DJ’s also need to be promoters these days or is that still solely the job of the promoter. Without local agents how do you promote yourself to venues and promoters/ bookers?

I think that DJs can do a little promotion, that could be limited to reaching out to their fan base or a similar dance music fans in their region via social media for example. But on the other hand the role of the promoter still holds all the importance in terms of reaching out to the wider audience and knowing about attracting the right people. I’ve been lucky to be one of the very few DnB and Dubstep DJs around Dubai so promoting myself is quite an easy task. Currently, Dubai’s got only 1 soundsystem that brings the international DnB DJs, and that is Globalfunk, so through them I was lucky to keep tabs on the right people around the scene. I’m also one third of audiOasis, a new soundsystem that started out earlier this year and has been quite busy in reaching out to almost everyone and anyone into DnB and Dubstep around the UAE and is picking up quite the following.

What does Dubai have that other party capitals lack? Is their room for everyone here to stake claim and have a following/crowd?

The only thing I think Dubai has that other places don’t is the unchanging weather! It’s summer almost all year long (except during actual summer when it’s too unbearable to even step outdoors for a few minutes!); you can always play the summertime vibes. There is plenty of room for any DJ to have a following in Dubai; the club culture is growing by the day in here. However in my opinion, a good DJ can always stake claim anywhere in the world. Talent will eventually be recognised where the artist is from.

Do you produce? If so tell us about your studio set up? What is your take on software production as compared to hardware and modular synths?

Unfortunately, I don’t produce that’s because I never had the talent for it, but with the help of a few friends who are producers that is going to change very soon. I recently got into the whole digital production thing. Since I started out as a rock musician, I was used to the traditional Studio setup where you got that huge 64/128 channel mixing board, a sound proofed booth and a multi channel recorder, but with advancements in audio technology that has quickly changed. Software production in the recent years got so advanced that all you need is a mac, a decent soundcard, a reliable MIDI controller and a pair of decent monitors to start a professional studio in your bedroom! I’m all for software production, I guess it’s time for all the traditionalists to embrace technology!

Do you think producers make good DJ’s and vice versa, or is it purely a new promotional tool to get DJ’s on the decks?

Although I still think that they are 2 different entities because you can have the great producer who can be a purist and play whatever he/she likes disregarding whether the crowd is reacting to the selection, a combination of great DJ and producer is always the ultimate goal for anyone in the electronic music scene. Production on the other hand has become the most important aspect in helping DJs get more bookings, and with the help of technology a lot of the producers have learnt to become better DJs, so I think both the DJ and Producer can benefit from each other.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to for all the wrong reasons?

Well thankfully I’ve never been to a show for any wrong reason. To put it in simple terms, if I’m not keen on the type of music being played at an event, I won’t be there…unless it has something to do with a girl! It’s always a girl I like that is the reason behind me being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but no regrets…no regrets at all! 😉

Somalie is on warm up duties for this Fridays iLL Communications Dub Pistols album launch party. You can check out his sound here.

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