Behind the scenes at the Abu Dhabi music studio's experimentalweb series
White Cube Studios, a recording studio based in Al Nahyan Abu Dhabi, founded by audio engineer Nerses Sanassian, photographer Waleed Shah and logistics man Abraham Wakim, is a hotbed for musical talents including producers, DJs and songwriters. Its latest project – a brand-new television series called Inspired – sees a group of artists and musicians jamming together for what will become a monthly docu-series aired via White Cube’s social media channels including YouTube. The show follows what happens when two talented artists who have never met make music together in the studio. The trio have all have worked with big-name artists in the past, including Snoop Dogg and Kings of Leon. We think the show has massive potential to bring together the UAE’s music community and makes for eyes-glued-to-screen viewing. So we went-behind-the-scenes and spoke to Waleed Shah to dig a little deeper.
Why set up a TV show? Inspired is about the magic of music – specifically songwriting. Musicians have an amazing ability to capture moments that live on forever, and Inspired is about catching those songwriting moments.
How does it work? Two (or more) musicians are invited to the studio for a day of collaborative songwriting. The song is recorded that same day and we catch the whole thing on camera. The show is not about watching a well-rehearsed band with pre-existing chemistry write their next album. Rather, Inspired brings together artists who have never met, and frankly, if it weren’t for music, probably wouldn’t get along, either. In most instances the artists don’t find out who they’re collaborating with until they’ve made it to White Cube Studios. So you get to witness new friendships evolve throughout each episode.
How is the show a game changer for the music scene? We push the envelope during the artist selection process. A blues band knows how to jam with a blues band. Throw in techno and that’s when things get really interesting. Inspired brings together different types of music, such as rap meets folk. This brings uncertainty to the table – it’s great to see that uncertainty and conflict unfold into a fluid, moving tune.
Is the selection process open to any artist? We look to invite independent artists who live here in the UAE – we’ve always seen this as a refreshing twist compared to the counterpart commercial music content, and there’s a strong commitment at White Cube to showcasing local talent. Inspired maintains that core concept.
What helps you to drive the project forward? My favourite rule is the, ‘This needs to happen now,’ rule. We record it all today and that’s the song.
Who has been involved so far? For the pilot episode we introduced rapper Majeed and singer-songwriter Esther Eden at the studio. They were both a little nervous at first, but once we started talking music, we could tell they clicked. The artists sat down, shared ideas about the song, discussed what it should be about and what it should sound like. It was really amazing to see artists in different genres work together so smoothly and fluently. But don’t just take our word for it; go check it out on any of White Cube’s social media platforms.
Where can we watch it? A new episode is scheduled for release each month. We encourage everyone who’s interested in what we do to check out www.youtube.com/whitecubeuae where you’ll find each episode and plenty more on the UAE’s indie music scene. White Cube Studios provides recording facilities, photography and video services for corporate and personal projects. It also hosts concerts around the city. Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi, www.whitecubestudios.ae, www.facebook.com/whitecubeuae, www.youtube.com/whitecubeuae (056 771 8676).
Introducing the founding trio
Audio engineer Nerses worked with an impressive list of international artists including Jessie J at Beta Records in Hollywood and mixed 15 episodes of Beta Records TV, a weekly US syndicated TV show featuring Flo Rida, Snoop Dogg and Dave Grohl.
Photographer and videographer for White Cube, Waleed has photographed acts including Kings of Leon, Fatboy Slim and Benny Benassi for top publications. He also co-ordinates performances and placement opportunities for UAE-based artists.
In charge of audio logistics, acoustics and studio financials, Abraham is also responsible for organising all White Cube Studios’ music events across the UAE. He is also the mastermind behind stage design and construction.