After nearly a decade behind the decks at Zinc, he is Dubai’s longest-running resident, while a prime-time Friday night slot on Dubai Radio 1 makes him one of the city’s best-known DJs. Recently gaining his second gold disc producing a hit single for Karl Wolf, we found out more from 35-year-old Brit Greg Stainer.
He only meant to come to Dubai for a month – nine years ago. ‘My first experience of Dubai wasn’t all that good. I had a one-month contract DJing a little club that was always empty. On the day I was leaving the agent was driving me to the airport when he got a call. They had a new club opening, Zinc, and the DJ had done a runner. The guy begged me to stay and I said I’d stay a week. That was nine years ago.’
His production of Karl Wolf’s hit ‘Mash it Up’, alongside Dubai DJ and old pal Dany Neville, recently went gold in Canada. ‘Dany and Karl have been friends since they were kids and Dany said I should do a remix of ‘Hurting’, which Karl did with Sway. I did it, but Karl didn’t take too much notice. A year ago Dany brought Karl to Zinc when I was DJing, so I dropped the track in the club. He said, “Dude what’s that remix? I really like it.” He asked us to do another remix. Me and Dany sent ‘Mash It Up’ to Karl, who said it was better than the original, put it on the album and made it the lead single.’
He’s a little jealous of the song’s success. ‘Karl played the tune at midnight on New Years’ Eve as part of a TV broadcast, with thousands of people watching. It’s funny when you see the video – I was at Zinc on New Year’s Eve playing to 500 people. It’s a nice feeling that people who make it big as artists aren’t doing anything different to what you’re doing. You think they have spaceship studios and Mozart composers, but no – it’s a guy in the studio at 3am playing a bassline on a midi keyboard.’
He already had his own gold record – he just didn’t know it. ‘I made a track in the late ’90s called ‘Weakness’, which was one of those few garage tracks that did really well. It was picked up by a compilation – I don’t even remember what it was called – which went gold, meaning I’m entitled to a gold record. I had no idea.’
The worst request he’s ever had is… ‘Tina Turner. Not even ‘Private Dancer’, he just wanted anything by Tina Turner. The manager was begging me, saying, “He just spent Dhs10,000 on a bottle,” and I said, “I don’t care, unless he spends Dhs3 million – that’s how much I’ll lose over the next month if I play that.” Another guy asked for “The Final Countdown” with a Dhs100 note clipped to the request; I thought: “You’ll need to pay more than that, mate.”
As well as DJing on Dubai Radio 1, he records a monthly podcast for Emirates in-flight entertainment. ‘I have to record my podcast three months in advance – and it’s hard to predict what’s going to be cool in three months. I might play something in an underground set that becomes a huge hit. It’s a massive achievement, and you never know who’ll hear it: if David Guetta’s on a flight and sees a house mix, he’s going to have a listen. Who knows? I might have even inspired his set in Abu Dhabi.’
Greg Stainer plays at Zinc, Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road every Wednesday and Thursday. Greg Stainer’s Dance Anthems is on Dubai Radio 1 every Friday from 10pm.