Best rock artists
The band: It can’t be easy, being in an up-and-coming rock band. There’s no end to the opposition. But Beat Antenna have triumphed over tough competition to win the ‘best rock band’ accolade. So what makes the English-Irish musos stand out? Neil Harrison, guitarist and vocalist, says, ‘Millions of bands play indie rock ’n’ roll, but it comes down to the songs, and I think ours are strong.’
However, as Neil knows, it’ll take more than strong songs to make the big time. ‘Everything, from the bassline to vocals, to the drums, has to be worked at. We’re practising hard and learning from everything. We learned from the EP [Half Now, Half Later] that we made, and the next step is to release an album at the end of the year,’ he says. What then? ‘We’ll be playing as much as we can in the region, then trying to get international gigs. We just want to keep pushing ourselves.’
Motto: ‘Where is Joe, our drummer? That’s the eternal question.’
Try them if you like… The Verve, The Rolling Stones, Oasis.
Releases: Half Now, Half Later, available on www.music.nokia.ae.
The runners-up: Universal Rogue (29 per cent), Sandwash (18 per cent), Ghandi’s Cookbook (four per cent), Sun King (four per cent).
Best hip hop artist
The man: Burying the competition with a landslide victory, rapper Kaz Money is now the official king of local hip hop. And local hype, too, by the looks of it. But he protests his innocence: ‘I didn’t want to promote my nomination – it felt a little unnatural – but my brother’s a marketing genius and he spread the word.’ His success isn’t all familial support, though. Kaz has been winning fans out here with his lyrical skills for years. ‘If I’m in the mood for writing, I’ll write anything,’ he says. ‘I can find things inside me that I didn’t know existed. It might sound a little cheesy, but everyone is multi- dimensional. We all have many sides and I put mine into my music.’
It’s no wonder, then, that he’s actively resisting tying himself down to any one sub genre of hip hop. ‘You can’t put me in a box at this stage. I can do conscious material, I can make songs for clubs, for ladies, or to satisfy my own needs. But right now I’ve got a pretty good life, so I’m interested in comedy and the lighter side of music.’
Motto: ‘I know that I know nothing, because I know something.’
Try him if you like… Redman, Eminem, Sean Price.
The runners-up: Desert Heat (15 per cent), Young Vaughan (six per cent), Tobias (five per cent), Swerte (four per cent).
Best pop artist
The man: This was a surprise. We thought Abri’s popularity would guarantee them the win. But nope, newcomer Jonas Desai dominated the poll with 45 per cent. ‘I think a lot of it is because I’m new,’ says the half-Swedish, half-Indian melodic pop-rocker. ‘Abri are an incredible band, but they’ve been around for a while, I still have novelty on my side.’ But Jonas isn’t going to let his youth carry him. ‘Something can quickly become nothing, so I’m always looking for the next step. As long as I can stand the high pressure I put on myself, I think I should be OK.’
Right now, those next steps will take him abroad – he’s already played gigs in India, and his long-term plans involve a full-on European invasion. What about Dubai? ‘I love Dubai, but the scene here isn’t fully developed. I want to keep trying and come back as a bigger name when people are more ready for it, you know?’
Motto: ‘I don’t do mottos. Experience can change your views in a second, so it’s hard to live by one thing.’ Try him if you like… Jason Mraz, John Mayer.
Releases: A Weight Off My Mind, album available in stores or to download from www.amazon.com.
The runners-up: Abri (36 per cent), Danny Shirren (10 per cent), The Meerkats (five per cent), Paul Nolan (five per cent).
Best alternative artist
The man: The alternative category was a closely fought battle, but ultimately it was Tim Hassall who won out. He’s not surprised by the close call though. ‘Everyone on that list is great,’ he enthuses. ‘Music’s not about competing, but a little healthy competition can make people push themselves a bit more. Right now, I feel like I’m building up momentum. Whether it’s real or in my head I don’t know, but it’s nice to feel there’s a plan to get you from A to B.’
And while ‘B’ might still be a little while away, Tim says that he and his band, the blues/folk/country/everything melange Tim Hassall And The August Company, have got at least some of the journey planned out. ‘We’ve got a pretty good core, but we need to develop a bigger sound,’ he says. ‘We’re more interested in texture and harmony than pop structures. We want to develop a bigger performance – something a bit dark, a bit sexy, a bit country, a bit reggae. We want to blur the boundaries between performance and music, but we haven’t realised it yet. It’s just a process of development.’
Motto: ‘Be persuasive. Make it happen. Stay decent.’ Try him if you like… Ryan Adams, Michael Franti, Kings Of Leon.
The runners-up: Gayathri (22 per cent), Abstrakt Collision (19 per cent), Dahab (18 per cent), Holly Major And The Cassiano (18 per cent).
Best metal artists
Beneath The Remains
The band: Some bands boast an army of fans, but how many mean that literally? Just one that we know of. Jons George, vocalist for Indian and Sri Lankan death metallers Beneath The Remains, explains: ‘We did a lot of marketing for the poll. We sent messages to the US army base in Dubai and they voted for us. But it was a massive surprise that we won, especially against well-established bands like Nervecell. We’re not sure how to feel!’
Don’t worry, though. Despite their heavily armed fanbase, Beneath The Remains aren’t planning a coup. In fact, the band’s EP, which they plan to release in June, discusses their hatred of killing. ‘One of the songs is called ‘Man(s)laughter’, which is about how people look away from the horrible things in the world. We want to spread a message of peace, to say there should be no political or religious barriers between people. Governments destroy us.’ But they have bigger plans than just singing about it. ‘We don’t want to say that we’re making people aware of things, because everyone already knows about the bad things in the world,’ explains Jons. ‘We actually want to do something about it. We want to do charity work and charity concerts – and we will.’
Motto: ‘It’s a bad world but we’re not going to give up on it.’
Try them if you like… Scar Symmetry, DevilDriver, The Faceless.
Releases: Parables EP to be released in June.
The runners-up: Dangwa (27 per cent), Nervecell (20 per cent), Private Government (12 per cent), Perversion (seven per cent).