Hamdan Al-Abri and the Funk Radius

The UAE's own homegrown soul star talks us through his latest project

Interview, Hot seat

The Dubai-based singer-songwriter, 33, has a new weekly residency with his band Funk Radius at Atelier M in Dubai Marina. Interview by Chanelle Tourish.

You’ve taken up residency at Atelier M every Tuesday night. What can we expect from the sets?
We’ll be doing a lot of my own material and renditions of covers as well. Things like ‘Come Together’ by The Beatles to Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, so soulful songs, basically.

Your songs, ‘Rebirth’ and ‘Falling’ have featured in hit US TV shows CSI and The Ringer. How did that come about?
Basically there’s a company in Canada where they take songs and send them to TV shows and movies. Then the producers will select the ones that they think will work with a particular scene. It was kind of surreal and nice at the same time to have my song chosen.

Would you like to do more soundtracks for TV and film?
Yeah I’d love to have my songs featured in movies. Music is such an integral part of a movie experience. I love movies like Cadillac Records where they use old soulful songs like Eta James. That’s the kind of soundtrack I’d like to be featured in.

You’ve performed alongside Kanye West, Joss Stone and Arrested Development among others. What has been your most memorable gig so far?
It has to be Herbie Hancock. I performed with him at the Abu Dhabi Festival and we sang ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke. I mean, sharing the stage with a legend like that has been such a highlight for me so far.

You took part in Dubai Music Week’s competition last year to win a record deal with Quincy Jones. How did you find that experience?
It was great exposure and a brilliant experience to compete in front of Will.i.Am, Timbaland and, of course, Quincy Jones. It’s good to be around veterans in the music industry. The artist that won was very talented and, you know, the best woman won.

Would you ever consider taking part in a reality music competition like Arab Idol?
It’s not really my thing. I just enjoy being an artist and performing my own music and having experiences rather than just being thrown headfirst into something that you need experience for as opposed to
it being given to you on a silver platter.

What’s next for Hamdan Al Abri?
Me and the guys [Funk Radius] are working on an album and hopefully it’ll be done by the end of the year. We cover reggae, jazz, blues, funk and soul.
Hamdan Al Abri and Funk Radius, every Tuesday from 8pm at Atelier M, Pier 7, Dubai Marina (04 450 7766).

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