Dubai is an unlikely haven for budding musicians, but Freshly Ground Sounds is a vehicle propelling them towards the exposure they crave. A collective of aspiring musicians themselves, Freshly Ground Sounds have been toiling over the past couple of years to regularly introduce new talent to the scene.
Set up in 2013 by 29-year-old Brit Ismat “Izzy” Abidi, a media lawyer by day, Freshly’s main goal was to bridge the gap between independent local artists and music-lovers. “Freshly was inspired by a craving for an independent, lo-fi, live music scene, the community associated with it and the musical inspiration it nurtures,” says Abidi. “It began as a pre-open mic, pre-pop-up gig event, with more emphasis on local creative culture as opposed to commerciality. While there was an abundance of cover bands in hotels and an increasing number of international music acts, there was nothing else in-between.
She says that with there being no platform to encourage young musical talent to sustain their skills beyond high school, the idea for the collective began to brew. “We got a few musicians together in a coffee shop, did a bit of branding, and set up an email account, all of which has turned into Freshly Ground Sounds,” she says.
With volunteers who moonlight as manager, fixer, commercial wingman and so on, for the collective, Freshly has put Dubai on the indie music map on behalf of all the artists, creatives and start-ups it has given wings to through 19 events over two years – some of which saw more than 1,000 people attend.
Freshly maintains a database of 316 local musicians who have day jobs or are students, including Josh Monteath, Peter Martin, Physical Graffiti, Soundblock and Kudos by Proxy, who make up a range of genres, including pop and folk.
“Part of Freshly’s charm lies in its ability to foster an online community and that’s been a constant process since the first gig,” says Abidi. “It’s very millennial in that respect, but this online society is nurtured based on face-to-face events, so it also feeds that human connection and tangible community element we increasingly desire.”
Later this year, the group will be announcing a new social community and in addition to regular gigs, there are plans for a major event, to take place either at the end of this year or in early 2017 – stay tuned to Time Out Dubai for updates. www.freshlygroundsounds.com.