In October 2015, thousands of Bon Jovi fans rocked out at the du Arena, shredding their air guitars and screaming out every lyric they knew. But three childhood friends from Abu Dhabi were fist-pumping and hollering for another reason. The trio were celebrating their greatest success to date: a band they signed, Carl & The Reda Mafia, had just opened for one of the longest-running rock bands of all time. And this was all because of White Cube Studios, a company that came to fruition thanks to those three music-loving friends.
Waleed Shah, Abrahim Wakim and Nerses Sanassian, after some years apart honing their musical skills, came together in the summer of 2013 to create White Cube Studios. “It was a pretty easy decision,” says Shah. “We’ve got a strong friendship, a host of skills and above all, a passion for creating and developing music within Abu Dhabi. It’s just mad what’s happened since we first sat down in our original studio.”
The first studio in downtown Abu Dhabi quickly became a hotspot for local talent: singers, musicians, poets and DJs. This sparked greater interest for the founders to explore the music scene of the city, especially when it was evident the scene was so mainstream.
“Everyone is trying to do the same thing or top the previous idea by bringing in a bigger name DJ, or somehow making the event or venue ‘classier’, however, you still get the same playlist. Not enough people are thinking outside the box, other than a select few like NYUAD (Bill Bragin) and Rooftop Rhythms (Dorian Paul D).”
The studio now offers more than just a place for artistic types to come and hang out and record some tracks. It offers video and photography for events, a fully equipped studio ready for almost any occasion and a monthly open-air music event, Metronome. This outdoor event has been running for several months now and the numbers are slowly creeping up. It’s held at Mushrif Central Park and it goes back to Shah’s belief of supporting and nurturing talent within the capital. Singers, musicians and dancers get a chance to show what they’ve got live on stage. It’s usually four hours and it also allows creative types to mingle and hopefully, as Shah puts it, mix.
“There’s always so many varied artists and talented people who come along to Metronome. Apart from putting on a good show for the crowd, why not take this as an opportunity for people to meet, converse and then work together? A violinist with a rapper? A beatboxer with a classical singer? Who knows. But we want this to encourage creativity, provoke new sounds and embrace difference,” adds Shah.
And now there’s White Cube Radio, another avenue the trio have opened up, offering a platform for artists to send in their tunes to feature on the airwaves.
The White Cube Radio app now has more than 2,000 downloads, and the influx of home-grown music and social media traffic from countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, has been huge.
September 2015 was a massive month, when the founding members of White Cube called in Carl & The Reda Mafia, a band they signed earlier that year.
“We found out that the guys would be opening for Bon Jovi,” says Shah. “It was hard to keep it a secret, so when we called them in for a catch up, it went off!”
For lead singer Carl, it was something he thought wasn’t possible: “Saying it was a dream come true would be a big fat lie,” said Carl. “It was too big to even dream about. Especially when you’ve been in a band for only one year.”
And guitarist Tarek from the band told us: “Getting signed to an indie label is probably the best thing that can happen to an underground band. Indie labels will go through the blood, sweat and tears to grow the band.”
White Cube Studios is pioneering the music production and development scene in the capital. And with more projects in the pipeline, who knows – we could have a Grammy Award-winner from our shores in
You can find the station at www.whitecubestudios.ae or search for the app from Google Play and iTunes.
Three from the Cube
Carl & The Reda Mafia
On February 19, Carl and The Reda Mafia will hold an official launch for its first ever album, What The?! The album has a funk rock sound and we’re told it’s got a very positive vibe.
Now available on iTunes or Spotify.
Metronome returns on February 20, with more live performances from a host of upcoming artists and musicians. Fujifilm will be sending down photographers, so keep an eye out.
Free. 5pm-9pm. Mushrif Central Park, Al Karamah Street.
Back in the Cube
The studio hosts different artists and musicians each week, interviews them on their current work, and then they perform a song live for the radio station. You can listen to old shout-outs online at www.whitecubestudios.ae.
Free. Every Tuesday. 1pm-9pm. www.whitecubestudios.ae.