Time Out meets S1, the city’s newest music icon to talk hip hop
He’s not yet old enough to drive a car, but 17-year-old S1, real name Sher Dayani, has just released his debut single, ‘Fake Love’, featuring acclaimed US rapper and singer Flo Rida.
After moving from Germany to the UAE with his Afghan-German parents and two sisters nine years ago, S1 found himself in the perfect position to begin experimenting with his musical tendencies. When the family moved into a house in Sharjah, he became friends with his next-door neighbour, whose sisters dabbled in singing and consequently had access to a studio. ‘I was eight when I had my first studio session in Dubai,’ he says. ‘We went in and sat down with the producers and recording artists, and that’s when we first recorded, just for fun. But that’s when I realised I could express myself through music, and I loved it.’
Fast-forward nine years and S1 has been picked up by Music Master, with his debut single released last week. He describes his music as a ‘mix’ of R&B, hip hop, pop, electro and house. But how does a teenager in Dubai persuade Flo Rida, one of the biggest names in hip hop, to collaborate on his first single?
‘It came about through a music manager and producer in the States,’ he explains. ‘He gave us the email for Flo Rida’s management, so we got in touch. Then he had the concert in Dubai, so while they were here we met up. He loved my music: he fell in love with the style and the new sound.’ It wasn’t long before S1 found himself next to Flo Rida in the studio. ‘We sat down and I showed him my records. He liked them all, so we took one out, we worked on it, he put his swag into it, modified it in his way… Then we wrote the lyrics and produced the record.’
Unusually for a collaboration, the two spent a great deal of time working together in the studio. ‘It’s not usually like that,’ he says. ‘Usually in collaborations you send your record, they record their part and then send it back to you. But that’s not the way it happened,’ he smiles.
S1 flew to Miami to make the video, which sees the two musicians on the beach, surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, bikini-clad women, and having fun on a night out. It may not be groundbreaking for an R&B video, but it works, and the track is particularly catchy. ‘The whole story is basically us having fun at South Beach in Miami. It’s a sunny day and we’re all just chilling, then at night we go to this party. There’s definitely a lot of energy in it, and it was a lot of fun,’ he says.
S1 has also been lucky in the response he’s had from friends at school, who have been ‘really supportive’ and constantly asking what he will be doing next. His album won’t be coming out until early next year, but in the meantime will there be any other collaborations to look out for on upcoming singles? ‘Definitely. I’ve been talking to a couple of artists – we haven’t got a deal yet, but we’re talking,’ he says, though when pressed for names, he’s reluctant to give anything away. ‘They’re A-class artists, but I can’t say anything else other than that,’ he replies. What he does reveal is that his first live show will be in Dubai, and will take place around the same time as the album launch.‘It’s all going to be full of energy; my performances, the dances… My shows are going to be different, very, very different,’ he enthuses. ‘There will be more focus on the dancers, the moves, on lighting, on the whole thing.’
So what of the future? He may have plans to work with some of the music industry’s most respected names, but S1 confides he has no intention of slinking off to live in LA or New York, no matter how successful he becomes. He’ll be staying right here. Fake Love is available in stores now.