Seven things you didn't know about Middle East's only metal DJ
He claims to be the Middle East’s only metal DJ and host of the heaviest club nights in Dubai. Next week his Holy Noise club night celebrates its fifth birthday with an international metal fest, starring Syria’s Melechesh, the Maldives’ Nothnegal and Bahrain’s Smouldering in Forgotten. As an early birthday present, we found out more about DJ Storm, aka 33-year-old Syrian events organiser Fawaz Kanaan.
It wasn’t always called Holy Noise. ‘It used to be called Black List, hosted in the Sheraton Four Points and named after the club they had there. But the club was shut down after six months so we had to move on. That was the biggest issue – we were moving from one club to another. We tried more than 10 clubs until we found somewhere that worked: Rock City. Holy Noise came about because I was looking for something related to the music I play. Black List didn’t say “rock” to me. It just came into my head – this music is noisy, but it’s something valuable for us and we appreciate that.’
His moniker came about because… ‘I used to have a music store called Storm Music Centre back in Syria. I had to shut it down. But everyone always called me Storm and it stuck, so when I decided to do this I said I’d be DJ Storm.’
He’s territorial about his music. ‘There are so many club nights in Dubai, but they all play commercial music, dance and R&B – no one plays proper rock. There are so many metalheads here who don’t like to go to these places – we rockers like to listen to our music – so I decided to do something about it. The scene is quite small. We don’t have big events, but every night I see new faces, we’re getting new people. Dubai is 95 per cent dance.’
Metal isn’t a genre that typically attracts DJs, but Storm got the idea to spin when travelling in Europe. ‘It was a long time ago: I was in Greece, where there are so many metalheads and so many clubs with DJs playing metal. I thought, Why not bring this to Dubai? People from Dubai just don’t understand, but people in Europe see it. It’s all about mixing. You can mix anything – I mix rock into heavy metal into Arabic music just to keep the crowd on its toes. It’s not just fading in and out, it’s about really mixing.’
Metallica and Guns n’ Roses are the crowd’s favourites. ‘I play all kinds of metal: thrash metal, punk, heavy rock… Anybody can ask for anything and I will play it. I have thousands of CDs. Metallica and Guns n’ Roses are the most popular.’
He claims to be the heaviest man in town. ‘People go crazy when I play thrash metal because it’s fast and full of energy. If you play Machine Head, Pandora, Slayer, everyone’s up and headbanging. You can’t see anything like it anywhere else in Dubai. We all respect Metal Asylum, but they call it Metal Asylum and it’s not metal.’
The best night of the past five years was… ‘We had Nervecell playing in 2010 and it was crazy. We played everything. Six hours of metal. Amazing.’ Interview: Rob Garratt. Holy Noise Fifth Anniversary presents Melechesh is on Friday April 20, 8pm-12.30am, Dhs100 at Rock City Club, Howard Johnson Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 393 9911).