The UAE might not have any world-conquering music festivals, but for a good chunk of the fans out here the emirate does provide. There’re festivals for rock fans (Dubai Desert Rock Festival), R&B and hip hop fans (Urban Desert), kids (Back 2 School) and, er, people who just like stuff (Desert Rhythm). But, unbelievable as it may seem, it’s taken until now for the UAE’s many, many, many clubbers to get a festival to themselves. Whether you like house, breaks, trance or techno, you should find yourself well-served by the new Coma festival, to be held on an island off Abu Dhabi.
Not only will it feature a potpourri of dance music, it will also have an all-star line-up, including ATB, Sandy Rivera, Wally Lopez and – as you might have guessed from the big picture on this page – Dubai regular Marco V. ‘I love to play in Dubai,’ he says after we finally manage to get a connection to his native Holland. ‘I’ve played there a few times now and it’s always got a fantastic, energetic atmosphere.’ He’s equally enthusiastic about playing the debut Coma festival. ‘It’s always great to be one of the first people to play at a brand new party. We have great festivals in Holland, like Mystery Land, but you guys have an advantage because you always have nice weather. We always have s*** weather. Even if the acts weren’t good, Coma would be great – you can’t have a bad festival in good weather.’
It’s not always a pleasure playing in a sunny country, though, as Marco discovered this year. February should have seen him becoming the first international DJ to ever play Syria, but a series of death-threats made on his MySpace site and sent to his management put paid to that. ‘You don’t know if it’s someone being silly or it’s some lunatic writing those things,’ he sighs. ‘I want to enjoy what I’m doing and I don’t want any risks – I have a family at home. If it was Europe then I might take a few people with me and say, “Let’s see what’s going on,” but I don’t know how Syria is. My management also kept telling me not to go. But it’s not like I’m scared – I play Beirut every year and it’s not like that’s the safest place in the world.’
He should be happier coming back out here, then, but what can we expect when he does? ‘I’m working on new material now, so I’m going to play that for the crowd. It’s my typical Marco V thing: some bootlegs, some progressive, some techy, trancey stuff and some house mixed together. I don’t like to categorise music too much, I just want to listen to good tunes. People at festivals don’t care about genre, they just want to dance and have a good time.’
And what of the behind-the-scenes antics? Will Marco be putting in any crazy rider requests? Has he demanded white lilies, champagne, a police escort, three buckets of kittens, two live dodos and a signed autograph of Lord Lucan? ‘No, it’s only a technical rider – I only need my CD players and monitors and laptops.’ Oh. That’s a bit disappointing. Not even one bucket of kittens? ‘I don’t want the blue M&Ms and the towels and the champagne. I don’t see that this has anything to do with the DJing and the music. I just go for the music – anything else is just an act.’ Good news for the promoters, then. And good news for the fans, too: we’d rather a DJ cared more about the music than the green room. But will Marco and Coma live up to that promise on the night? Only one way to find out…
V for victory
Here’s a very potted history of Marco V. But can you spot the dirty great lie we’ve thrown in?
1971 Marco V is born Marco Verkuylen in Eindhoven, Holland.
1985 Marco takes to the decks at the tender age of 14.
1996 De Danssalon nightclub in Eindhoven becomes the first in a long line of residencies for the DJ.
1997 After turning to production, he releases his first single, ‘XS’.
1999 He plays his first-ever festival, Mystery Land, in Holland; it becomes his favourite festival moment ever.
2002 ‘Café Del Mar’ by trancers Energy 52 gets remixed by Marco and subsequently charts at number 24 in the UK. It is his first major hit.
2003 Kuala Lumpur becomes the latest in a series of festival appearances for the DJ, but ends in disaster – as he steps up to the decks, a police raid shuts it down.
2007 In a shocking twist, Marco V is revealed to be the fifth clone of the original Marco Verkuylen. After defeating Marcoses I to IV, he changes his name to simply ‘Marco’.
2008 Marco is booked to play a gig in Damascus – a gig that would make him the first international DJ to play Syria – but death threats sent to both his management and MySpace result in him pulling the gig.