Hollaphonic Strike EMI Arabia Deal
Dubai-based duo become first major label EDM signing from the region
When a mutual friend introduced DJ-producer Greg Stainer to MC Olly Wood in May last year, the pair hit it off immediately. “We went into the studio the next day, and within that first session, we’d pretty much done 80 per cent of the track that’s [now come out as a single],” Stainer says. That song, “I Don’t Want It To End,” an up-tempo, radio-friendly dance track, is now getting airplay around the GCC, thanks to major-label backing from EMI Arabia, who signed Hollaphonic late in 2012. It has, Wood admits, been “a whirlwind.”
“It’s not a bad thing,” Stainer says, “that the first track we made together got us signed to the first record label we played it to.” It also made them the first EDM act to be signed to a major out of the Middle East. “That one line…” says Wood. “It wasn’t even on the bucket list. It wasn’t anywhere. It was, like, ‘I’d better have a kid, quickly, so I can tell them.’”
They’ve had to temper their excitement a little to fit in with the label’s plans to break them gradually – aiming for regional airplay over the next few months before looking overseas. Putting their new tracks online is not a part of that schedule. “We don’t realize,” says Stainer. “We forget we’ve signed a deal. I just put stuff up so my mum can listen to it.”
The duo say they’ve already got plenty of material together for their debut LP, which should appear some time this year – but only after a couple more single releases. “Let’s wait and see what happens with the singles,” Stainer says. “If the first week’s anything to go by, it’s going to be a pretty good summer.”
The album is likely to follow the same format as the first single – the sweet spot between Stainer’s house pedigree and Wood’s drum-and-bass background (Wood describes it as “that jump-up-and-bounce big festival sound”).
“Our goal is to get tracks you can play on the radio or MTV, but that also sound really cool in the clubs,” says Stainer. “It’s getting that fine balance between the commercial and clubby stuff. That’s what we’re about.”
The pair are also thinking ahead to live shows. “We never make a song without the foresight of live [performance],” Wood says. “My dream, forever, has been to make all those electronic instruments come to life physically.”
“We’re thinking of stuff that can be different, live, from just a DJ and an MC,” Stainer adds.
But they don’t plan to be playing that often. “We’d be happy if, in the U.A.E., we did four or five gigs in 2013 that were all different, big gigs,” says Wood. “Then the ultimate dream is to travel around.”
For the moment, though, they’re focused on their adopted homeland. And on bringing other local artists into the fold to collaborate – as well as some “A-listers from the U.K. and Canada” who they refuse to name just yet. “There are talented people everywhere; it’s just that, over here, there’s not the support for that talent,” says Stainer. “But, hopefully, in the dance music scene, we’re about to change that; we’re about to let the labels and the radio stations and TV stations see that there’s money to be made out of these guys that are right on their doorstep.
“We’ve both been here a while and the place has been good to us,” he continues. “And now, hopefully, we can give something back.”
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