Greg Stainer in Bahrain

Two of Dubai's hottest musical talents are in Bahrain this month. Time Out catches up with them both

Greg Stainer
Greg Stainer
Hamdam Al Abri
Hamdam Al Abri
1/2
Greg

Have you been to Bahrain before?
This is actually my first trip. I’ve heard a lot about Cocoon Lounge from other DJs, and they tell me the vibe is awesome. The crowd like to hear good quality, up-front house music, and that’s exactly what I’ll be giving them.

You’ll also be giving them a taste of your album, 6mil2headphones. So, what does the title mean?
Ah, the big question! When I left school, my first job was in the construction industry. I used to use a road construction material with a ‘six millimetre’ stone. Now my job involves using a pair of headphones. So the title means from working with ‘6mil’ ‘to’ working with ‘headphones’.

And you recorded it in Dubai?
Most of the album was recorded at my studio there, but a couple of the tracks were started in London. I started working on the album about 18 months ago, and the tracks were meant to be just singles. The actual concept of making it into an album only happened in the last six months.

So what will be happening at the Cocoon Lounge launch?
I’ll be giving it 110 per cent. I can never explain in words how my DJ set will sound, because I always tailor it to the feel of the crowd. And house music is a feeling in itself, it cannot be put into words. You have to feel the bassline to really understand it.

How did Hamdan get involved?
I first heard Hamdan perform with his band, Abri, at a concert in Dubai. I fell in love with their sound, so I made contact and begged them to let me work on one of their tracks. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’ve remixed a track of his, ‘A Piece Of Yourself’. Tell us about it, the before and after.
The original is a smooth, soulful jam, perfect for a lazy day on the beach. I wanted to transform it into something that would move a crowd. I wanted to keep the soulful vibe, but take it to another place altogether.

Abri have already released an album. Has Hamdan been giving you lots of advice?
To be quite honest we are both so busy that we barely ever cross each others’ paths. So I am looking forward to our Bahrain trip. I can pick his brains on the flight over.

Tell us one thing about Hamdan no one else will know…
Me and Hamdan are neighbours.


Hamdan

You’re coming to Bahrain this month. Tell us why.
I’m performing my song, ‘A Piece Of Yourself’, which Greg remixed for his album. I love the remix and I love Bahrain – an offer I couldn’t refuse.

How did the remix come about?
Greg got in contact with us through our manager. He made three or four remixes of the song and wanted to know if we liked them. We loved all of them. He wanted to put one on his album, and I love the version he chose.

What’s your take on it? How does it differ from the original?
To be honest with you, I have never been a fan of house music, but when I heard the remix it just brought a new light to the song. That’s why I like it, because I would have never thought that the song could be a house remix. He took it and made it his own. He changed the arrangement as well. I love it when producers take a song and completely switch it up. The original has a reggae vibe, it’s slower than the remix, and the chorus on Greg’s version is different, too, and he added some effects to certain parts on the vocals.

Is it easy to perform live?
I haven’t performed the remix yet. I’m doing it first for the launch in Dubai and then we are coming over to Bahrain. The song has energy to it already, so it won’t be hard to perform; the tempo is just a little faster than the original.

You have released an album before, while this is Greg’s first. What advice have you given him?
None yet. But if I was to give him any I would tell him to be wholly proud of his album. That’s his baby. There will be people who support his music and unfortunately there will be people with negative opinions about it too. He should go out and spread his music with complete conviction.

What is it you like about Bahrain?
I love the laid-back side to the place, and the people that I have met have been amazing. I have performed at Coral Beach Club a few times and it’s always a good night.

Any plans for a concert here with Abri in the near future?

Bahrain will always be on our concert plans. I wouldn’t rule out a gig or two in Bahrain some time this year.

What have you guys been up to, by the way? When’s the next album due?
Our new album is called Blank Notes. It sounds crazy so far. As opposed to our first album, which was only released in the Middle East and with a light presence on the internet, we are going to take this new album worldwide. We rearranged a few old songs and have a few new ones on there too. I’m very proud of this album. It will be out soon.

Have you seen any Bahraini bands before, such as Manakin? What do you think?
I saw them when they were Brothermandude. The musicians in that band are amazing.

Tell us one thing about Greg that no one else will know...
He is not from this earth. He is an otherworldly being just trying to make a living by doing what he loves…

Greg Stainer and Hamdan Al Abri perform at Cocoon Lounge, Best Westin Juffair Hotel (17 827 600) on Thursday, May 14 from 9pm. BD7 entry, ladies free.

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