Chi DJ talks to Time Out

The hot new UK born DJ talks up his weekend gig, career so far, and his plans for the future over tea and biscuits with <em>Time Out</em>.

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DJ feature
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Smokingroove will be keeping the house red hot at Shindig, one of the three areas in the massive Time Out Comes Home bash. We found out what he’s going to be getting up to.

You’ll be playing back-to-back with Charl Chaka; what do you think of him as a DJ and how will the set go down?
I think Charl is a very good DJ, no doubt about that! He is technically on-point and knows how to build a good rhythm and flow. A lot of DJs think it’s all about banging it out with the biggest breakdowns and bass lines. For me it’s all about the groove... no pun intended. I’ve seen and spun records with Charl for many years in various countries, so we’re both very aware of how each other plays, whether we’re playing peak time or late night 5am sets, we both think along the same lines and work the tunes in accordingly. We both play Chicago jackin’ house, but we still have very different styles. I think the set is going to be a real treat for everyone, and will be well received for its musical variety and ingenuity.

How does it feel to be playing alongside DJs like Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzales?
I’m really looking forward to this gig with Kenny Dope. I’ve played alongside him before at the now-legendary Turnmills and at Ministry Of Sound in London, so its going to make a nice change being with him in Dubai. And an outdoor set is always a great feeling.

What kind of music will you be playing on the night?
I’m going to keep it real and keep to my style, and work in the right kind of vibe for the moment. It’s a warm up set, so I’m going to play nice soul/funk infused house with some nice beats to build up the night.

What’s your current top track?
‘Boxcutta Style’ by Sampled and Smokingroove. Sorry, couldn’t resist a plug – it’s our latest masterpiece.

Will you be checking out any of the other areas of Time Out Comes Home?
Absolutely! What a great lineup. I’m definitely going out of my way to hear Julian from Abri, DJ Solo and Kenny Dope – what a legend – and I’m keen to hear what all the noise about Twisted Melons is all about.

Where are you from originally? and what do you do when you go home?
I’m from London in the UK, and I think it’s safe to say that other than visiting the family I spend more time record shopping than anything else. London is by far one of the best places in the world to buy good music in all its genres. And I love sifting through the crates of old vinyl at second-hand record shops.

You’re also putting together an EP – tell us a bit about that.
Well, we’ve just finished an EP called The New Jack Swing. I teamed up with a good buddy of mine, DJ Paz, who is a technical guru. We both have a big love for swing jazz and we both spin Chicago house, so it just kind of fell into place. We based the whole EP on old 30s swing jazz, sampling a great jazz player called Kid Orie. We bent over backwards to keep most of the original elements of jazz while keeping up with a solid house beat. On that note, we’re just putting the final touches to the new Smokingroove artist EP, called ‘The Homegrown EP’, which is a four-track EP covering all the elements of straight-up house music from electronic and hip-hop cut-ups to deep tech.

How does it feel to be making music in a studio instead of gigging in front of a crowd?
I’m very fortunate – I have the best of both worlds: working with Paz in Dubai and DJ Safe in London on the studio side of things, and DJing in the UK, South Africa, Ibiza, Spain, Dubai, Bahrain and Latvia. I couldn’t say for definite which I prefer. It’s very gratifying producing your own music, but equally nothing compares to thumping beats in a club while taking control of a packed dance floor and having all those people bouncing to your beat! It’s just nice to be know that like-minded people get the same feelings from house music!

Smokingroove plays Time Out Comes Home at Chi on Friday April 25 from 7.30pm-3am. Tickets Dhs100 with the Time Out Comes Home voucher before 10pm and Dhs150 after 10pm.

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