As the team behind long-term 360° resident club night Audio Tonic celebrate the release of their first full mix CD, Rob Garratt gets the lowdown from mixmen Mr Mr and Raxon
There are few more iconic experiences in Dubai than a night at 360°. Located on a jetty out at sea, opposite the Burj Al Arab, the location alone is a draw. Then there’s the sunset, the venue’s novel shape and of course, the music – that distinct, deep but danceable, intelligent and groovy strain of house music for which the club has become known. And now, for the first time, you can take a little bit of that music home with you.
Few can claim to have done more for Dubai’s house music scene than Audio Tonic. The long-term 360° residents have been at the venue since it was less than a year old. Taking care of every Friday night since October 2006, as well as currently hosting alternate Saturdays, the group’s reliable roster of residents are responsible for developing and defining what clubbers affectionately dub ‘the 360° sound’. And it’s that sound that has been captured on the brand’s first full CD release.
The first in an ongoing series, Audio Tonic @ 360° Volume 1 is a conceptual, two-disc affair, following the course of an evening at the venue, working from relaxed sundown sounds, building the tempos progressively as the night rolls on. Mixing the first disc is Audio Tonic founder Mr Mr, aka Mike Bufton, who opens things with Seva K’s ‘Falling’.
‘Every week people come to 360° and say “where can I get this music?”,’ says Mike, a 32-year-old Brit. ‘Now I can say, “go ask the barmen”.’
The album’s 28 tracks have been drawn directly from the dancefloor; the grooves which defined the 2012/13 season at the venue, with 12 releases straight from Audio Tonic’s home-grown label, and five exclusive tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Label manager Raxon – who picked up Time Out’s Best Dubai DJ award earlier this year – takes care of the second disc, opening with a Kolombo remix of his production, ‘Stanton’. ‘These are the tracks that have made a difference for me and the venue,’ says the 27-year-old Egyptian, otherwise known as Ahmed El Raghy.
The release rounds off an impressive season for Audio Tonic, which was born off the back of a Radio 1 show that Mr Mr still hosts (catch it at midnight on Thursdays).
Having grown to include a record label – which has put out an impressive 25 releases since 2011 – the brand is gaining more international note every month, with Mr Mr and Raxon off to DJ at European festivals such
as Barcelona’s Sonar this month.
Back in Dubai, Audio Tonic is continuing throughout the hotter months for the first time, with the new Summer Sessions concept at 360°’s lower deck, which premiered on Friday June 7.
It’s the CD the team seem most excited about though; while there are other Dubai-based DJs who have contributed mixes to international labels, this is believed to be the first time a homegrown brand has put out its own bespoke release.
‘To have a physical release out there is a milestone,’ says Raxon. ‘To be in the shops in the city you live in, that’s a special feeling.’
In an era when dance music is traded electronically – or on vinyl – and every bedroom DJ can upload their mixes to SoundCloud, the release of a mix CD might seem slightly antiquated to some. But it’s more than music – for the transient clubbers of Dubai, it offers a unique opportunity to take home a little piece of one of the emirate’s best nights and most iconic venues.
‘One of the main reasons we’ve done this is that people live and work in Dubai – and then they leave,’ adds Mike. ‘And now when they leave they can take a piece of the Dubai music scene with them – a part that we think has been pretty influential over the past seven years. Now people can have Audio Tonic and 360° in their music collection forever.’
Audio Tonic @ 360° Volume 1 is available in Virgin Megastores now. Audio Tonic’s Summer Sessions take place at 360°, Jumeirah Beach Hotel every Friday, 4pm-3am. Free entry (056 682 6617).