In their own words, Zki and Dobre of Chocolate Puma are ‘nerds who love house music’. While many people will know them for their 1993 single ‘Give It Up’, which they released under the moniker of The Good Men, they’ve been onto a sweet thing ever since and are finally bringing it to Dubai. It will be the Dutch duo’s first gig in the UAE, and they admit they’re curious about their trip.
‘We visited Dubai for a holiday a few years ago, and it was quite mind-blowing to see all the development going on. We’re not quite sure what to expect [this time], but we’re sure it’s going to be even crazier than last time. We didn’t go clubbing then, though, so we’re particularly curious about the nightlife.’
During their time on planet house, Zki and Dobre, real names René ter Horst and Gaston Steenkist, have released a number of popular club hits, most recently ‘Back Home’ featuring soul singer Colonel Red (the crooner has nicknamed the duo The Lyric Master and The Sound Professor). Highly regarded on the scene by fellow DJs and producers, the pair count hit-machine David Guetta among their admirers. The DJ has both featured on their remixes and played their bootlegs, most notably at Dubai’s Peppermint club night earlier this year.
‘Music is a universal language and the more people who can speak through music, the better,’ says René. ‘Back in the day when we were young, kids wanted to play guitar or play drums and be in a band. Now the youngsters all want to be DJs. That’s definitely not something we expected to happen when we made and played our first records.’
In a heavily populated industry, though, how do they manage to carve their own niche? ‘We’re not really thinking in terms of being different from anybody else,’ explains Gaston. ‘Instead, we are inspired by them and always try to do what we think feels right. We just do what we like, and stay close to ourselves.’
Much of their inspiration comes from their home country, The Netherlands, which also helps to set them apart on the international stage. ‘We think you can sense the “work hard, have an open mind and be humble” attitude of the Dutch in everything we do. We live in a small country with many people, so if there are any new trends they can move really fast and reach a lot of people. The Dutch are also a very picky bunch, so that encourages us to work harder and better.’
The pressures of a picky home audience seem to be paying off. With more than 200 releases and 50 remixes to their credit, many for household names such as Britney Spears, Fedde Le Grand and Stereo MCs, the pair also played for Ibiza’s Pacha crowd earlier this month, sharing the night with Bob ‘Rock This Party’ Sinclar. Not bad for a couple of nerds.
‘Okay, we may not be your typical nerds,’ says René. ‘But we can get quite geeky about the thing we love to do, and that’s making music that makes the dancefloor rumble.’
Chocolate Puma play Sanctuary on July 29. Doors open 9pm, Dhs100.
Chocolate Puma: the quick-fire quiz
Which record do you never forget to pack for a set?
That would be a bootleg we did of Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’. We handed out some copies to Laidback Luke, David Guetta and a few others, and they’ve been hammering it! Since then, everybody has been bugging us about this bootleg!
Which DJ would you compare yourselves to?
[New York DJ] Larry Tee, because he always wears funky glasses.
What has been the highlight of your year so far?
That has to be our performance at Zouk in Singapore. The love and energy of the people over there was just crazy.
What will you be packing in your suitcase for Dubai?
CDs, laptop, iPhone and some fresh sneakers.
Our favourite edible musicians
The ’Loaf apparently earned his stage name after trying to fail an army medical by gaining 3kg in just under five weeks. Rather him than us…
Red Hot Chili Peppers
They loved to stir up controversy during their early years, but the funk-rockers have calmed down as they’ve matured, producing cool tunes such as ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ that take the edge off their fiery name. They’re still universally cherished after 27 years in the business.
There’s some debate as to whether this counts as a foodstuff or a recreational pastime, but alternative rock got that bit fruitier when frontman Billy Corgan decided to gather a few mates and create a rock supergroup way back in 1988.
Irish rock band or little red fruit? Formed in 1989 (were people hungry in the ’80s or what?), they had hits with ‘Zombie’, ‘Ode to My Family’, ‘I Can’t Be With You’ and ‘Ridiculous Thoughts’, all anchored by singer Dolores O’Riordan’s distinctive Irish twang.