After arriving in Dubai from Abu Dhabi two months ago, Natalie Brogan has landed a regular gig at popular indie club Alpha, and been taken under the wing of respected local DJ Da:Sendri. Born and bred in Manchester, Brogan left England for Ibiza last year, where she was taken on by label Pukka Up, working its beach parties. Soon after, the former beautician headed for Abu Dhabi after being offered a job, arriving in the UAE capital just over a year ago.
‘I thought, well, I’m either going back to my day job in Manchester or coming out here and taking up full-time residency, so I thought I’d give it a go!’ she says. ‘I knew I wanted to be in Dubai, so during my year in Abu Dhabi I heavily promoted myself and built up a bit of a fan base over there.’
Describing herself as a pure house DJ, Brogan has been lucky enough to see one of her dreams realised in an incredibly short period of time. ‘When I came over here last year, Creamfields had just happened in Abu Dhabi. While I was there I decided I really wanted to play the following year, and that’s just been confirmed. I’m on the main stage with David Guetta, which is absolutely huge,’ she explains. ‘I’ve not been here that long, so I’m taking every day as it comes, but it does seem to be going pretty well at the moment, so touch wood it carries on the same!’
What’s next on the agenda now she’s secured the location and the dream gig? ‘I want to start on the production side, so I need to get out there making music,’ she explains. She describes this as the next step for any DJ, and argues that if you have the skill to play and mix music, you should at least try to make your own. And as she hints at a few more gigs in some of Dubai’s most popular nightspots, we’re convinced we’ll be hearing a lot more from Brogan over the next few months.
Natalie Brogan plays Creamfields in Abu Dhabi on December 9, plus regular Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday club nights at Alpha
He may have been MCing from the tender age of 16 in his home town of Southampton, but it’s since arriving in Dubai that 28-year-old Olly Wood has really started turning heads with his creative freestyling. Though more into hip hop, Wood, who is cheerfully a suit by day and MC by night, used the growing dominance of UK garage (which brought us The Artful Dodger et al) as ‘a means to an end’, taking his MCing from messing around with friends to nightclub gigs. After a stint doing promotional work at EMI in the UK, during which he took a step back from the scene, Wood moved on, went to university and ultimately wound up in Dubai. It was here, in the back of a cab a little over two years ago – after no small night out – he found himself freestyling for friends, including Ben McDonald (the man behind GlobalFunk Dubai’s nights) who encouraged him to get back into the clubs.
‘I try to talk and rhyme and MC about things that are relevant to the people in the area, relevant to experiences. I try to freestyle a lot, which is obviously doing it on the spot, using the people, surroundings, the experience, and it works particularly well when there’s another MC there,’ he explains. Which there was when Time Out last saw Wood take the stage at Adidas Originals Star Wars Battle of the Beats last month. He’s the first to admit he doesn’t fit the stereotype and likes surprising people, including Dany Neville, with whom he shared the stage at the battle.
‘I love it, and they’re always impressed, because people can be quite cynical about someone like me doing something like this. But they’ve given me a lot of support.’ Given that he’s headed into the studio this month to work on a track with a pair of French producers, we expect to hear much more of Wood’s always-amusing take on life Dubai.
Since gracing the cover of Time Out Dubai way back in April 2003, there have been false starts, line-up reshuffles and gigs opening for international acts such as Nickelback, but it’s only in the last couple of weeks that Sandwash have finally launched their debut album, Master Blaster Hole. It’s been a long time coming – they’ve been holding onto it for the past three years – partly because they’re fed up with promoters trying to shoehorn them into a category, whether it’s a genre or look.
‘We can’t wear skinny jeans – we’ll look like sausages’ says Mike Fillon, the band’s vocalist, songwriter, manager, PR, ad agency and art director, who objects as much to attempts to cement a label to the band as attempts to get him into ill-fitting clothes. He and his fellow band members (with the exception of brother Jay, the band’s drummer, who he’s been jamming with ‘since we were old enough to pick up instruments’) met at Dubai’s American University seven years ago, set up a band and never bothered to change the name.
It seems to have stood them in good stead and, thanks to local distributor Daxar, the group will no doubt find themselves blasting out of a growing number of iPods and car stereos very soon. Master Blaster Hole is available now in Virgin Megastores. Keep your eye on Time Out for details of the band’s next gig.