DJ, nightlife impresario and all round renaissance man Karim Miknas tells Time Out why the buzz in Bahrain is better than ever
Who are you? Wow, what a question. I am a Beirut-born-and-raised half Turkish, half Lebanese Bahraini citizen who is extremely passionate about what he’s doing. Music is a core experience we share and the power of music can influence a positive change in our world in our lifetime.
What do you do? I’m a renaissance man, Jack of all trades, master of none. [Modesty aside, he’s one of Bahrain’s top DJs, as well as being group general manager of Seven Leisure, which owns nightclubs Seven and Level, along with several other pubs and restaurants.]
What brought you to Bahrain? The unending Lebanese Civil War in the late ’70s and early ’80s…
What’s your opinion of the music scene in Bahrain? The music scene in Bahrain, as long as I’ve been a part of it – whether as an observer, one who delights in it, or as an influencing force – is one that is in constant flux. No one ever knows where it’s headed, sometimes towards disaster, but everyone fully embraces it and dives in all the way. We’re about to see another major shakeup and I’ve never been more confident. Wherever you do find a scene it is full on.
What do you like about Bahrain? The people. I am now a Bahraini and, aside from the actual time I’ve spent on the island, I’ve absorbed its essence to my very being. The people are incredible. There is more character in one centimetre of Bahrain than the whole Gulf put together. It’s is a very, very unique place, kind of like Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
What do you dislike about Bahrain? We desperately need to move forward, and in so doing are ditching some very important things that make us who we are, and embracing other things that have nothing to do with who we are. We’re going through a national identity crisis.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you’ve got planned over the coming months? Tons and tons of things. We currently hold two international residencies at Club Seven, one with Defected, the world’s most important House music label and the other with Ministry of Sound and their sub-brand Housexy; we are now adding the R‘n’B night, Smoove, into the foray and I have a ton of underground DJs booked for Level well into May 2009, including a residency with DJ Baloo from Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Jade from Basement nightclub in Beirut and my own night ‘Stere’o, which is now only once a month. The Formula One weekend is also going to be absolutely massive, but I can’t say too much now.
How do you see Bahrain’s entertainment scene developing over the next few years? The sad thing is that most of the kids have experienced Dubai, and so that’s their barometer and they think that you have to book the top 100 DJs to have a great event. Musically, if we go in this direction, Bahrain will become even more immature, prices will go up and the same thing that happened in Dubai will happen here – the whole thing will implode on itself. We have quite a few years of cheese ahead of us I’m afraid. The younger generation are just not very clued up. We’ll get there one day.