With rich cultural diversity and a buzzing live scene, the UAE could be tipped to become home to one of the region's finest music industries. What's needed? Some audience participation, says Dubai-based LA music producer Joshua F. Williams
“I see in the very near future that Dubai will establish its own unique sound,” says record producer Joshua F. Williams. “There is such a diverse culture in the UAE and a fusion of their different influences is starting to take shape. I also see the local community really coming out and supporting the scene. Every year the scene gets bigger and better. For the first time in the UAE, you can hear original artists perform almost every night of the week.”
Dubai is a much improved musical beast compared with eight years ago, when Williams first arrived in the emirate fresh from Los Angeles. Gone are the bleak days spent searching for live music. In are the sounds of Bull Funk Zoo, Empty Yard Experiment, Gayathri and a host of other bands and musicians plying their trade on what is a flourishing scene.
There is such a diverse culture in the UAE and a fusion of their different influences is starting to take shape
“Not only has Dubai’s music scene grown, but I have learned a lot about the talent that exists,” adds Williams, who worked with the likes of Fergie, Bruce Springsteen, Flo Rida, Stevie Wonder and Akon back in the US.
“While I mainly work with English music, I believe it has a great amount of global potential. For this scene to grow, the support has to start in Dubai.
“A lot of the artists could break the global barrier, but the global music industry is a system that asks for a lot more than just talent. The world of marketing, video and social media content adds a list of activities that independent musicians cannot afford. The current centres of global music are Los Angeles, New York and London, but Dubai has the elements to join the list. It just needs an industry to develop around the talent that exists and the local community to support the artists. I encourage every resident in Dubai to start supporting the local scene.”
What needs to change for that to happen?
“Local radio stations would be my first priority,” replies Williams. “Very few local bands have their music played on air. We need to start engaging the local community with the bands and artists that are working hard to create music here. If artists and musicians see the potential, then investors, local PR firms and venues will follow suit. Once that happens, then the investment can take the music to the world.”
I encourage every resident in Dubai to start supporting the local scene
Currently recording and producing Dubai-based artists As Per Casper, Harvey D and Davinci Park, Williams is also working on a new project called RecordPro Records. “It is a culmination of everything we have been working on in Dubai,” he says. “An initiative to support, develop and showcase the huge local music scene.”
Despite coming from LA where the pace of music production is fast, Williams is hopeful that with Dubai it's a case of good things come to those who wait.
“I don’t see a reason to be frustrated. Like the start of anything huge, it requires patience and commitment. With the support of all the artists collaborating and the local community supporting the music, I have no doubt that music will play a larger role in the Dubai economy.”