Can House Music Set Mideast Free?

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haneef raisani, with arab cloak and shades, holding two vinyl records
Raisani oils the house music gears

Abu Dhabi is far removed from the fires of democracy currently a-blazing through North Africa and the Mideast. This city in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates marches to a different drum—a drum machine, specifically, pumping out house music grooves on Raisani Records, the loving endeavor of a  a true believer in the genre named Haneef Raisani.

The UAE is far more liberal than its neighbors, just more proof that once they’re firmly entrenched in the soul of a population, grooves will keep you free.

A DJ for a dozen years, Raisani has operated the label and promoted events in the Middle East and beyond since 2003. The imprint has released tracks from talents like Raisani, Roland Clark, Jay Tripwire and Lenny Fontana.

On the event side, Raisani has brought its parties to major European hubs like Ibiza, Amsterdam and Barcelona. As the label kicked off its 2011 World Tour at Dubai’s Club Sanctuary, we connected with Raisani.

What’s the music scene like in the UAE? The scene is really getting crazy, as you must have heard already. All the major artists perform here. Dubai is getting more commercial these days and Abu Dhabi is getting there in terms of house music.

The venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not very different compared to Europe or the U.S. But I can say that clubs here in the UAE are more luxurious, as this is what the people demand. But they run until 3 a.m., unlike Europe or the U.S. where [some venues] can run ’til 7 a.m.

So, how do you keep it going? You need to follow your vision and you do it for the love of the music. Also, the music industry in Dubai is still in its early stages, and it sounds a bit weird to some people when we tell them we are the first independent house label in the Middle East and we are trying to make a change.

What’s new with the label? We started a sister label called Deeper Sounds of Raisani to sign new and upcoming artists and producers in the deep/tech/minimal house genre. We signed a bunch of new producers like Marv Peterson & Edgaro, a new duo from South Africa—absolute genius and I absolutely love their work. We’ve also signed a Tunisian producer named Sin Tek who does some really cool deep/tech house beats.

For full interview, check the next issue of DJ Times….

Photo courtesy of Time Out Dubai