Riyadh hosts ‘music camp’ by international DJ to nurture next wave of Saudi talent
An electronic music “boot camp” is being held in Riyadh by an international DJ to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.
Afrojack, a Dutch DJ and founder of the record label WALL Recordings, has joined MDBEAST and Merwas Studio to organize the WALL Music Camp in the capital between March 14-18.
Organizers say it will take an educational approach to navigating the music scene in Saudi, equipping 12 regional artists with the right tools and knowledge to thrive within the industry.
Afrojack, whose real name is Nick van de Wall, told Arab News: “There’s a very, very big chance that Saudi (Arabia) will become the next global hub for music.
“Right now, we’re in that moment of change. So, to be able to empower so many young artists, to give so many people the opportunity to finally take that leap of faith and follow their dreams, become a vocalist, become a singer, become a music producer, become a DJ — now it’s all possible.”
With initiatives driven by the Ministry of Culture and its Music Commission, the Kingdom’s potential is what pulls global artists to the region, including the Dutch producer.
Afrojack, whose most recent songs include “Shockwave” and “Back To Where We Started,” said: “Right now, the thing that drives me the most is the cultural revolution that is happening and the amount of efforts that are being put in by the country itself to maximize happiness.
“The focus that I’ve been seeing with Merwas and MDLBEAST is that we need to (create) fun for people. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where a country, the people, culture and music are so aligned. This doesn’t happen every day, so to be able to help this happen, it’s an honor for me.”
WALL supports local Dutch talent including Chico Rose, Rancido and Chasner to the stage. They have now come to Saudi Arabia to do the same.
“The entirety of WALL is only based on creating sustainable success for everybody,” Afrojack said.
In collaboration with MDLBEAST Records and arts and entertainment company MERWAS, the WALL music camp will provide masterclasses, workshops and studio production sessions under the guidance of some of the region’s top producers, including Zaid Nadeem.
Afrojack said: “Key tools I’m focusing on in this program are mentality and also the understanding of, if you want to become a producer or a DJ or singer, it’s an industry. It’s not just going to the studio or making music for fun.
“It’s a big part of it. There’s also a part of making music focused towards your goal, to define you as a person.”
“I always say I’m not the guy to teach you how to get to number one — I’m the guy that teaches you how to get a career in the music industry.”
With an abundance of learning resources, both online and through various Saudi initiatives, the music camp focuses on getting in the right mindset to tap into the greatest creative potential.
Afrojack said that the most important thing he teaches was “not necessarily the technicalities of making music, but the technicalities of making successful music.”
“Starting a career in the music industry, being able to create something that can reach people, being able to create a relationship with people, create fans, figure out a position in the international music industry — I’m trying to teach that and we've done very well so far.”
Saudi artists Dish Dash, Cosmicat, Malkin and EMAD were given one-on-one masterclasses and studio sessions in Antwerp with Afrojack in previous WALL camps held last July and October.
Afrojack said: “I try … to explain that it’s possible for anyone. Anyone can have the success that I had, but there are certain steps to be taken, and those are the steps that we’re covering.
“I’m not the guy to teach you how to get to number one, I’m the guy that teaches you how to get a career in the music industry.
“You need to stay true to who you are, but at the same time, you need to cater to whatever is happening in the world or whatever the consumer would want. What does the listener want to hear?
“If everyone’s speaking a different language, learn the language and speak the language. Say what you want to say.”