Stephon LaMar talks about Dubai's music scene

The Time Out Dubai award-winner talks opening for James Morrison and Dubai’s best live music venues

Stephon LaMar talks about Dubai’s music scene
Stephon LaMar talks about Dubai’s music scene Image #2

Hailing from north Carolina (via New York City), singer Stephon LaMar has been in Dubai since 2013, where he’s integrated himself in to the booming live music scene. As Time Out Dubai’s Best Original Act 2019 and with three albums in the pipeline, this year has been a busy one for the American musician.

You’ve been in Dubai for six years now. How has the music scene changed in that time?
I would say the biggest change I’ve seen is the want and desire for more live music. Nowadays any club or lounge that opens up will have at least one live music night and I think that’s super-cool as it gives more opportunities to the live music acts in Dubai.

How do you see the live music scene here developing in the next few years?
Right now, we have incredibly large and well-established international acts performing here frequently. But there are also a lot of really good local artists producing their own music so there needs to be more opportunities for them to get up on stage. Sole DXB is amazing because a lot of local musicians get the chance to shine. I’d love to see more opportunities like that as it helps build the community and the local music scene.

You’ve opened up for some big names (Enrique Iglesias, Florence + the Machine, James Morrison – to name a few). Who was your favourite and why?
I’d have to say Enrique Iglesias – that was at the F1 and it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed in front of. There were more than 30,000 people, but the coolest thing about it was I didn’t realise how massive Enrique Iglesias was and how big of a catalogue he has. He’s colossal. That was a great one.

Was that your best performance then?
Well, I’ve performed at Dubai Opera four times and I was actually the first non-theatre act or non-operatic act to perform there. My first show there was almost three years ago and I opened for James Morrison. Literally my first original music gig in Dubai was at the Dubai Opera – it’s crazy. James Morrison actually came up to me after and said he liked my set. That was a really special gig.

Do you have any advice for budding musicians?
If you’re looking to express yourself creatively but your main focus or drive isn’t the creation of the product then just get out of it. If you’re looking to just make money, get out of it. If you’re looking to impress people, get out of it. I started when I was very young and I had tunnel vision. I’ve been discouraged here and there but I’ve been doing this for 17 years and you just have to stay driven and stay focused.

Where’s your favourite spot for live music?
Q’s Lounge & Bar in the Palazzo Versace Dubai (Time Out Dubai’s Best Live Music Venue 2019) – it’s really cool and it’s perfectly tuned for listening to live music.

What’s in the pipeline for you?
I’m currently working on three different projects right now. The first has more of an indie acoustic sound to it. The second one has more of a soul/hip-hop/R&B feel, and the third is more new wave inspired. For each project there are going to be six or seven tracks and I have a release coming up called “I Need You Close” – it’s a nice summer song, the whole tune is about getting married and it’s very sweet and precious.

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