Raxon is that rare breed of Arab DJ with more bite than bark, his biography deservedly reeks of accolades, including DJ Mag Middle East Top Ten, multiple Best Dubai DJ awards from Time Out, Beatport remix competition wins, and a whole host of renowned global venues and festivals, from BPM to DGTL. The Egyptian born, UAE bred deck dazzler currently resides in Barcelona, making headway in Europe, with his brand of driving, bass heavy house and techno. Following on from last year's four track EP release, Nebular on Solomun's Diynamic label and Heliopolis on Truesoul, we chat with the nomadic producer about nightlife in Dubai, getting advice from Hernan Cattaneo and tacos, of course...
I could say that my taste is always evolving, but in the core of my sound you will always be able to hear is a bit of mystery, a little melody, and a touch of darkness
Tell us a few things about yourself that we won't find in your DJ biographies…
Haha, good question! Well lately I've just discovered a new love for tacos, so Im down anytime, I think I'm going to include that in the next bio update haha! I used also work as an architect for a few years before deciding to focus on music.
You're Egyptian, but grew up in Dubai. Did you visit Egypt often? Tell us a little about the nightlife and music scene you grew up with?
Yes, I used to visit Cairo on a yearly basis when I was younger to visit my extended family when most of them used to live there. I actually grew up in Abu dhabi where there was not much nightlife going on at all. I remember the biggest thing that used to happen there is when they used to have something called Rain Dance and they would usually have Darude or S.A.S.H. playing, and that was for like about a few hundred people. Also for a short time, we had one of the main clubs back then ’The Coloseum' open its door from 1600-2000 for the under age kids, serving only soft drinks of course. Its only when I moved to Dubai in 2003 for university when I got exposed to the nightlife scene in Dubai, I remember going to see Sasha and Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo, Deep Dish back then, you can only imagine what happened to nightlife scene from there.
These days I'm never in a rush to sign tracks to labels. I take my time to test the tracks in different clubs and see the crowd reactions, then I would send it as a demo to a label that inspires me
How long have you been playing music for a living? Where did it all start?
I think it was around 2010 when I quit my job as an architect and decided to dedicate all my time to making music and focusing on trying to build a career out of it, I was and still am convinced that if you spend 100% of your time in whatever you set out to do, its only a matter of time to be able to achieve the 100% results that you aim for.
Do you remember your first ever gig?
Of course! My first official gig was at club called ‘Touch’ deep in Bur Dubai and i remember the guys down at Ohm Records store (it was the first and only record shop in Dubai Back then) hooked me up with that one. I remember dragging my friends all the way across town to come down, too many funny memories that night.
Do you remember the moment when you realized you could do it for a living?
I don't think there was ever one exact moment, it's always a combination of things, a lot of work in the studio plus a lot of patience plus risk. The thing I learned about the music industry in the past few years is that there is no job security, one day you can be an instant superstar and the next day can’t get a gig, and there are many examples of that. The best advice would be to stay humble and true to the music.
How has your taste developed over the years? Do your selections inevitably become affected by global tastes in dance music or is it a case of always trusting your own preferences?
I could say that my taste is always evolving, but in the core of my sound you will always be able to hear is a bit of mystery, a little melody, and a touch of darkness.
But there are always phases, especially when I first started out, with no direction at all, and trying to make music that I hoped my friends would like, then it's very easy to get caught up with trends. Later I would learn the less you get affected by the noise, the more original you become.
These days I'm never in a rush to sign tracks to labels. I take my time to test the tracks in different clubs and see the crowd reactions, then I would send it as a demo to a label that inspires me and follow up. The more the time passes and if the tracks are still sounds good then I know I'm good to go.
What's more satisfying, wrapping up a killer original production in the studio, or seeing a huge crowd lose their shit over a drop on someone else's track you're spinning?
I'm a bit fortunate to be able to do both, wrapping up a new track and having the opportunity to test it out in the clubs over the weekend and see people responding to it. That's probably the ultimate rewarding thing to me.
These days I think the most important 'business card’ you can have is to make your own music and put it out with the right labels
What are the biggest issues facing the electronic music scene in UAE today?
I feel that the scene does not support the local DJ enough, even with such a small thing as the name size on an artwork / flyer. Sometimes you can't even see the local DJ's name from how small it is. Realistically it's more about what is the next new super club / hot spot, or who will win the bid to get a certain international DJ first.
Which DJs stand out for you from the region?
Woah! I don't know where to begin, I have big respect for my DJ friends in Dubai, Beirut and Cairo that continue to push hard to have a scene and keeping it alive.
Why did you end up moving to Barcelona?
It's been in the making for a while now, I remember getting some advice from Hernan Cattaneo back in 2012 that moving to Europe will help push the career to the next step, and I took that seriously and made the move two years later. I must say my time with Audio Tonic at 360 helped me build relationships with artists that we used to book and most of them are friends till now.
Every gig is special in it's own way, whether it's the promoters, sound or location. It's a privilege to be able to fly to different countries, experience different cultures and play music
How has your experience been in comparison to your expectations of breaking into the scene and making a name for yourself in Europe?
I must say it's been such a pleasure to get a chance to meet with many artists that inspired me when I used to live in Dubai.
What's the most important thing a DJ can do to "make it" in the industry?
These days I think the most important 'business card’ you can have is to make your own music and put it out with the right labels. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task but having a little plan / direction, patience plus a little passion for music, of course. I think that's a good recipe to be able to be successful in this industry. Because let's face it, everyone is a DJ now haha.
You've performed across the world, at numerous venues and festivals. Which one stands out for you most?
That's a tough one, but to be fair every gig is special in it's own way, whether it's the promoters, sound or location. It's a privilege to be able to fly to different countries, experience different cultures and play music.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming gigs or releases to look out for?
I've remixed Oliver Huntemann's first single ahead of his album. The remix came out on digital in July and on vinyl. Also a two track EP on Gardens of Gods' label Sodai that came out in August, followed by a three track EP on DGTL Festivals records label DGTL Records coming out end of the year.
Gig wise, there are some cool gigs that I've played, or coming up that I'm looking forward to: Family Piknik Festival in Montpellier with Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Ibiza playing for Mosaic again this year, Warung Becah Club in Brasil, touring South Africa again, The Garten in Beirut and few more.
*This article was originally published on our sister site Scene Noise.