With an ever-changing line-up and influences ranging from Stevie Wonder to Jack Johnson, Behold the Locus pride themselves on being a reflection of Dubai’s diverse population. By day they are deacons and general managers, by night they are a rock-pop group championing the local music scene. Lead vocalist Richard Wilson (centre) and guitarist and songwriter Fabian Martin explain more.
Behold the Locus is an interesting name. Where did it come from?
Fabian: It’s actually a tribute to Dubai. ‘Locus’ in some Greek form means ‘location’, so we’re referencing Dubai as a location and showing it to the whole world.
And who are the band members?
Fabian: Richard is our new singer, but we’ve been through many changes so it’s much like life in Dubai: here today, gone tomorrow. It started with me doing solo acoustic gigs at Dubai Lime, then as people started getting interested and the scene started growing, I got a couple of calls asking if I could put a band together. I started using friends so we had a drummer and bass player and so on, but right now Richard is our fourth singer. Connel [far right] is our second keyboard player, Ferdie [second from right] is our fourth drummer and we have Derek [far left], who’s our third bassist. I met Richard at Peanut Butter Jam when he was there with his own band, and they eventually replaced [members of] Behold the Locus.
Richard: The good thing about the post-summer 2009 Peanut Butter Jam sessions was that a lot of musicians had started jamming with each other by the end.
So how would you describe your sound to Dubai’s music buffs?
Fabian: It would be pop/rock. We all come from very different musical backgrounds, but our common ground is rock. We have a very funky feel; Richard, for instance, is more of a soul singer, so while on the surface we’re a pop/rock band, when you listen more carefully you’ll hear some funk, some soul, a bit of reggae. It isn’t on purpose, it’s just what comes naturally to us.
Which artists are you most influenced by?
Fabian: I listen to everything, even obscure music such as Joseph Clay through to Jack Johnson, Maroon 5… I think Jamiroquai is a common influence throughout the band.
Richard: I listen to a lot of the old-school Motown, such as Stevie Wonder, but also some of the newer guys. I saw John Legend in Dubai; then there’s Donnell Jones, Brian McKnight, Eric Benet. I’m influenced more by these guys and the sound they produce.
Seeing as you’re part of it, what are your thoughts on Dubai’s local music scene?
Fabian: I think the scene is growing really well. Two or three years back, you never had local bands opening for international acts, but now I think every international act has a band opening for them. Could it be better? Yes, definitely. I think we need a whole lot more support from corporate organised gigs. They need to reach out to local bands. Right now it’s the other way round, with local bands knocking on the doors of Virgin, whereas it should be the opposite.
Surely local bands around the world have to go out in pursuit of bigger gigs?
Richard: I disagree with that line of thought. I was in Australia for four years, and over there you could rock up to a pub and say, ‘I’d like to do an acoustic set,’ and they’d say, ‘Alright, bring your guitar tomorrow and we’ll pay you XYZ.’ Here, you need to get permission. It’s simple mathematics. The way the system is set up here, it’s a lot easier for DJs, whereas with a band you need lots of different types of permission. It’s got a lot better over the past 10 years, and one key improvement is that venues are now able to license acts for just one night – they’re much easier, cheaper and faster to process. As a result, a lot of jam nights and open nights have started up, such as at the Music Room, which I think has the most well-organised jam night in town.
Is that your favourite venue?
Fabian: It ends up being our favourite because we play there most of the time!
Richard: The Music Room is a great place right now, just because they’re opening up so much to local bands. It’s rather unfortunate that even though there are still people in town looking for good live music, there are fewer opportunities and fewer jams available during the summer.
You’ve just released your first EP. Where can we get hold of a copy?
Fabian: We’re talking to a couple of people at the moment, but after Ramadan you’ll see it in shops. Until then, people can contact us on our Facebook page and I’ll send it to them directly.
Behold the Locus play The Music Room on July 16 as part of Rock Nation. To check out the band’s first EP, search for Behold The Locus on Facebook.