Who’s playing your favourite tunes at clubs and lounges in Bahrain?
Time Out Bahrain staff
How many times have you gone to a brilliant new venue only to be left cold by the music or discovered the best frantic party vibes at some out of the way hole in the wall (which immediately becomes your favourite haunt)? Here at Time Out we’re great believers that music maketh the man (or woman), but how many of us actually know who’s spinning the discs (or twiddling the knobs and pressing the buttons) as we hit the dance floor? We’ve rounded up some of the island’s best DJs and checked out what you can expect to hear from them.
Damian D’Costa – Not strictly a club DJ any more, well not in Bahrain at any rate though he does still play the biggies in Ibiza and Dubai, Damian’s probably best known for his five-year stint as the face and sound of Cocoon, which he founded out of a desire to give people somewhere to hear the kind of music he wanted to play.
These days you can hear him at the weekends at the Blaq Velvet Underground late lounge, in the Grand Safir Hotel, and on Saturday nights from 11pm-1am on www.castleclub.com, it’s an online radio station based out of Ayia Napa in Cyprus (that’s why it’s so late, it’s the prime-time show but we’re a couple of hours ahead of Europe).
He likes to have fun but takes his music very seriously and, in answer to the question ‘what sort of things do you play?’ he replied ‘really good music that you won’t hear anywhere else’. He’s also got lots of exciting stuff planned for the coming months but more of that in the near future.
Dara Singh – A stalwart of the Paris club scene for lots of years, he’s got eclectic taste in music and plays an elegant mix of electronic sounds that can either liven an evening or chill right down in the early hours. In collaboration with Budha Bar’s DJ Ravin, he’s also just released a mix CD to mark Bushido’s fourth anniversary. Catch him at Bushido next to the Ritz-Carlton every day and night.
Dave Hayes – Time Out columnist Dave plays chilled house by the pool at Coral Bay and has also just opened for Ministry of Sound featuring Sheldon.
Derek J – The man behind the sound at the recently-opened Sky Bar at the Diva Hotel, Derek’s from Karachi, Pakistan, and got into DJing ten years ago. He says he’s blinded by a love of electronic music and his style is deep house, tech and techno house. He’s the resident at Sky Bar but can also be heard playing late nights at Muju and expect to find him popping up at pool parties over the summer.
DJ Jabu – Hailing from Quebec, Canada, DJ Jabu is new to Bahrain and has only been on the island for a couple of months. She’s been playing and studying jazz bass for 14 years and has a wealth of experience behind the decks having played with the likes of Avrum Gold of Lost Tribe, WiZdom and Tony Soupliotis. She’s performed at many of Montreal’s famous clubs such as The Loft and Salon Daome banging out Canadian feel-good vibes with a housey oldskool feel. She says: “I love tech-house, techno and house. I prefer more underground beats, but I also enjoy some mainstream, popular songs. Depending on what the crowd is craving at a party, I will mix it up to get everyone dancing!” You can find her at Bizarre Lounge at the Kempinski Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre from 9pm-2am Wednesday to Friday. DJette Kiwi – If you want to catch Kiwi in Bahrain, you’ll have to be quick as she’ll shortly be off to Ibiza and the south of France for the summer season, it’s a hard life!
Kiwi began her music career in Paris with infamous lounge producer Hovannes K in 2007. Originally a vocalist, she slowly incorporated mixing into her repertoire and within two years was playing major venues in the French capital such as the infamous Montana, VIP, BC and Palaise du Tokyo. Today she travels the world playing for crowds in the tens of thousands at events such as New York Fashion Week.
She says: “My music is positive vocal house, with some teeth. I also get into a bit of lounge/chillout and the hipster scene (indi and rock n roll), if the moment calls for it.”
And, being originally a vocalist, you may also hear her take to the mic.
You can catch kiwi upstairs at Meisei Wednesday to Friday until around June 12 – after that, you’ll have to head to the Balearics! DJs Youss and Daniel – These two come as a pair and are the resident house spinners at Zoe. They’ve been there ages and play consistently good sets of the more commercial house but they also bring in some seriously respectable international acts so extra koudos for that. They’re at Zoe Lounge and Terrace most nights.
DJ Aaron Wolf – As soon as Aaron got a taste of the high of making a crowd dance at the age of 17, there was no turning back. And 12 years later he still can’t get enough of it. Although he’s always been a house DJ, his creative appetite never allowed him to stick to one genre. He’s played at some of the biggest clubs in Bangalor and Goa and he’s always seeking out new sounds to keep the dancefloor jumping, be it retro, hip-hop, psytrance or even Bollywood. He’s the resident at Deja Vu and plays most nights. New Face DJ Angel – We can’t tell you much about this one since Angel joined the party just as we were going to press replacing the ever-popular DJ Conny at Dublin’s. He’s been a regular around the north of England for years and Dubz boss Neal tells us he has ‘an extensive music knowledge covering everything from house to rock, chart to R&B and pretty much everything in between with a natural ability to tailor his performances to the crowd, ensuring that every musical taste is catered for...’ Catch him at Dublin Club at the Ramee Palace.
DJ Cobus – The Rainbow Nation native told us: “I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa - which actually is a country right at the bottom (south) of Africa (continent not country). As a young boy I always wanted a pet lion, but unfortunately the closest I came to it was watching them walk down the street while playing cricket on the lawn with my friends.
“I started DJing about five or six years ago as a first-year law student at Stellenbosch University and didn’t take long to realise music and entertainment was much more fun than case studies and long nights in the library... Since then I’ve played alongside numerous top DJs in South Africa and held residencies in some of the biggest clubs in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
“I play mostly house music, be it commercial, electro, progressive or some banging old-school tunes and you can catch me at Davy Crockett’s in Hotel Diva on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays you can find me in Kicks for the weekly Quiz.”
Stevie George – A definitely old-school spinner who served his ‘apprenticeship’ at bars across the UK and spent four years at The London Pub in Fuengirola, Spain, before hitting our shores in 2010. Stevie plays classic party tunes from the 60s right up to today. We don’t have his picture, he says it will just scare our readers, but you can see and hear him at Corners at the Dragon in Amwaj nightly apart from Mondays.
DJ Huss – A veteran on the music scene. Born in Bahrain, Huss relocated to Florida in 1986 where he launched his musical career professionally in ‘91. Delving into the Florida scene, Miami free-style and its infamous cultural blend shaped his growing talent. As the decade and the music progressed, Huss discovered the 90s’ electronic scene. Kraftwerk, Sasha, Digweed, Roger Sanchez, Green Velvet were all part of his eclectic palate. Relocating back to the Middle East, he bounced between Europe and Asia, playing hotspots, Amsterdam, Dubai and Thailand while maintaining residencies at home here in Bahrain. While he’s not currently resident anywhere here, you’ll find him playing the occasional set at Blaq Velvet Underground where you can expect warm deep and tech house. According to fans his sets ‘are characterised by a definitive journey, highlighted by a crescendo of positive beats, vocal and charming’.
Editor's choiceDJ Outlaw – There’s so much to say about this guy that he could make a whole feature on his own. A genuine Bahraini phenom and hip-hop master who mixes Middle Eastern with Western vibes to great effect. He’s mixed with some huge names, is affiliated with the Tupac-founded Outlawz and is a member of the Slip and Slide hip-hop collective. He’s got his own studio and is constantly seeking out new talent and has just ‘dropped’ (which we think means released) Outlaw Nation Vol.2 mixtape with Young Noble of the Outlawz, a music video of the song Rocking with the Best for Bahrain hip-hop artist The Mystro and a music video for the song Matter of Time for Kuwaiti hip-hop artist Arabique, both of whom are signed with Outlaw. He performs at selected gigs around the island and was last seen with US hip-hop star DJ Kool in the run-up to Formula 1, but for the most part he seems to be concentrating on producing at the moment and you can hear him on www.djoutlaw.com, have a listen, he’s very impressive.
Sami Dee – Founding member of Art.haus and one of the nicest blokes on the Bahrain music scene. Put together this collective with Miled of Coral Bay who, these days, is focusing mainly on producing. Sami says: “We didn’t want to fill big venues but we wanted to give people somewhere to hear good underground house, stuff you probably won’t hear anywhere else in Bahrain. We take the music seriously but not ourselves, you’re as likely to see a food fight as you are some great dance moves and people having a lot of fun.” Sami’s joined in Art.Haus by an eclectic group, particularly watch out for another guy, DJ Chitronix, also known as the Chicago Kid – a veteran of the Chicago house movement who’s been in it since the beginning. They have a monthly night at Brazil Lounge in Adliya, the next one’s June 6. Check out the Art.house page of Facebook for details and have a listen to some of the tracks you’re likely to hear.
We couldn’t do a DJ feature without including a couple of our faves from good old Radio Bahrain (this should be sung, hi-de-hi-stylie)
Marie-Claire – Currently covering the AM to PM show (daily from 9am-noon), she should probably get a medal for long service having been on our airwaves 14 years! She told us: “I pick my music as I go. I’ll decide the track I want to start with and just take it from there. My music style has evolved a lot over the years. When I first started here in Bahrain I was known as the R&B girl and was the first DJ to play almost only R&B. Over the years I’ve learnt to appreciate a mixture of music so I play a bit of everything in my shows. Now, because of my time-slot, I play a lot of chart music but can’t resist throwing in some older stuff too. The only thing you won’t really hear much of is thrash metal or country!
Andy Swain – Another long-server who’s been at Radio Bahrain for 19 years! Over the years he’s covered virtually every time slot but is currently just playing Saturdays from 3-6pm. We particularly like his show for giving us something a bit different. He said: “I source my music from various web sites which specialise in current music that’s not necessarily chart related. I try to play, for the most part, modern music that’s not chart led, even though some songs may subsequently make the charts. I try not to be too connected to any particular genre and to introduce music that may not otherwise be heard on the mainstream shows on RB and that’s relatively accessible to most people. My show is in the afternoon so, even if I wanted to be, it’s not appropriate to be too specialised. I do intersperse this with the odd oldie now and again, though this is definitely random.” London Calling – We think this is one of the best shows around, particularly for Brits who want to keep up with the UK scene, check out London Calling on Thursday and Saturday nights at 7pm Studio 1 FM Saudi Aramco Radio, 91.4FM.