Recording an album

Musical guru and radio presenter Zahra Soar looks at the producers who are doing it for themselves in Dubai.

Last week I wrote about how solo artists can make a home recording studio to avoid spending big bucks on that first important EP. Sometimes, however, that bedroom is not enough – like if you’re trying to record with a group. But when music is – so far – just a pastime and you have little more than a MySpace page, a few gigs under your belt and a burning ambition for success, you don’t want to shell out a fortune for what could end up as a vanity disc. Nobody wants to be David Brent from The Office, do they?

Instead, consider going to one of the number of private recording studios around this city – like the one owned by MC and producer Jabbar, who built a state-of-the-art private studio at home. ‘Until I become big enough to spend big money on big-time studios, I can get great quality from my home studio,’ he says. But he doesn’t just record his own projects, he also hires it out to other bands – so long as they know what they are doing.

‘I don’t want to record just anyone, I want people to come in who are aware of what they want to achieve, and I won’t rob them blind,’ he explains. ‘They pay Dhs800 for the first four hours and Dhs200 per hour thereafter. It’s cheaper than using a big-name studio and the quality is good.’ It’s worked out well for him, too – he’s had bands like Juliana Down at his place, and says that artists enjoy the combination of a personal touch and the lack of studio staff cramping their style.

It’s not cheap to set up a professional-quality home studio, but by picking up second-hand equipment or getting discounted internet deals, you can slash costs. You’ll need a keyboard, an audio interface, a decent computer, a mic and pre-amp and a load of samples. In all, you should expect to spend around Dhs37,000.

Alternatively, you could always visit Jabbar ( in Al Barsha or, like up-and-coming band Sun King did, Cesspool Studios ( on Sheikh Zayed Road. Jaison of Sun King says, ‘As well as the home studio being cheaper, the final outcome from Cesspool was quite remarkable. Artists and musicians get more time there to tweak parameters to get the desired results.’

There’s still a place for professional studios like Dubai’s Creative Kingdom, of course, but there’s no need for new bands to pay huge money for global-standard results. But more on that in the New Year.

Zahra showcases the latest local musical talent on Open Mic every Saturday from 8pm-10pm on Dubai Eye 103.8

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