MDLBEAST Records‘ newest forward-thinking project launches right now, and it’s a series of major electronic remixes of Arab pop stars to promote their music and one-of-a-kind culture outside of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The first release of the series comes from the most suitable artist for the job – the Dutch/Moroccan R3HAB and his rendition of one of Lebanese artist Myriam Fares‘ biggest hits – “Goumi,” which just surpassed 10 billion views across short-form video platforms (namely TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube shorts). The result is a fresh, edgy fusion of Arab mainstream pop and dance-electronic sound, rich with Arabic culture and ready for the dance floors far and wide. R3HAB‘s remix of “Goumi” opens with the singer’s passionate vocals and incorporates mystical-sounding instrumentals to conjure images of Arabian nights, while R3HAB adds his signature growling, rolling bassline, and driving melodies to give the original version its club- and festival-oriented makeover.
Since this is the first release of many on a similar note, upcoming pop artists from the Middle East and North Africa, which are to be treated by a remix from some of the world’s most established DJs/producers, include the likes of Mohamed Hamaki, Ahmed Saad and Amr Diab while Steve Aoki, Salvatore Ganacci and AFROJACK, to name only a few, are already confirmed to deliver their remixes in the near future.
Dan Prince gets a world exclusive with Senior Label Manager Edwin Harb to tell us all about another hugely exciting MDLBEAST project…
Edwin, a huge welcome to DMCWORLD. Where in the world are you right now?
Thank you for having me! I’m currently based between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
A very exciting time for the whole MDLBEAST organisation at the moment, especially due to your forward thinking project fromMDLBEAST Records which features superstar remixes of Arab pop stars. Please tell us more about it all, when did this allbegin?
We started working on this with the first edition of our Soundstorm festival in 2019, where it felt natural to put together R3HAB, the region’s biggest EDM producer and one of the headliners of the 2019 line-up with the region’s most acclaimed Arabic stars. The blend sounded really good and was perfect for our mainstage, it was the first time people seeing these artists collaborate and people loved it, we knew then that this was an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between the 2 very popular genres and create a flagship moment in every Soundstorm.
The first remix comes courtesy of the mighty R3HAB and his spin on ‘Goumi’ by Lebanese artist Myriam Fares, out now. The track just surpassed 10 billion views – a massive opportunity for ANY producer to remix! Why did you choose R3HAB?
R3HAB is a fantastic producer, and having roots from the region, the collaboration really made sense conceptually and musically. The original track boasts beautiful instrumentation that we wanted to make sure is given the right treatment with a remix and R3HAB was the obvious choice.
You pride yourselves as being disruptors within. The MENA music industry. As the leading player in the region, you are always pushingboundaries. How many people work at the organisation and just how diverse are the projects?
We have just celebrated our 100th employee joining the MDLBEAST family! The company grew massively from 2019, when we started with a dozen employees who put together the biggest festival the region has ever seen, to what is now the main player in the region’s music industry that is growing rapidly every day. Our services are also growing everyday to keep up with the market’s rapid growth and the market’s needs. The region’s industry is relatively new and this was all made possible by the artists and creatives and now it’s our job to provide them with a platform and the needed infrastructure to represent the region globally. We have just launched our talent development function, publishing company and a label services arm that will service the independent labels and artists of the region. Our events calendar is also getting bigger by the minute with more festivals and live shows around the region being planned as we speak. It’s all very exciting!
What can you tell us about future remixes and Arab artists?
We’ve got a few planned to be released before the end of the year with massive names like AFROJACK, Salvatore Ganacci, Steve Aoki and the region’s Pop stars Nancy Ajram, Ahmed Saad, Mohamed Hamaki and more.
Your SOUNDSTORM music festival in Riyadh has emerged as one of the most exciting events on the worldwide stage. For those notaware of this beast of a festival, just how big is SOUNDSTORM, who stood out artist wise this year and what are the plansfor 2024…
The festival’s size is surreal, being there is an extraordinary experience, we had over 600,000 visitors in the last edition! What I think was a highlight in Soundstorm 2022 was the inclusion of more pop acts like Bruno Mars, Post Malone and DJ Khaled, and we’re going to see more genres introduced in 2024 and the years to come.
Aside from the Middle Eastern pop stars, who are some of the local DJs we should be looking out for?
Regional electronic music dominates our catalogue and we’re very proud to always put local and regional heroes at the forefront of what we do. Some of my favorites include Baloo, Cosmicat, Dabous, Dish Dash, Hrag Mikkel, Vinyl Mode, and many more but the list would be too long.
What are the electronic music genres that the local clubbers favour most in 2023, or are they hungry for EVERYTHING?
Electronic music is becoming more accessible with the more melodic genres; melodic techno and house are becoming more popular globally which also influenced what is being played in local and regional clubs and events. With the growth of electronic music in the region, we’re also seeing more and more very interesting sub-cultures and communities emerge with a more left-field sound, more breaks, bass and jungle from artists like Hamdi, Moktar, Toumba and Saliah.
And finally – tell us a little about yourself Edwin, what has been your musical journey to be part of this incredible set up?
It’s a bit of a funny one, but I started out selling bootleg CDs in middle school before I understood that that was illegal, and since then I’ve been involved in the industry in a way or another but always knew that I wanted to expose people to new music. My first music job was playing in and managing a wedding cover band before I landed a job with a concert promoter radio station as their events coordinator. This led me to explore the different sides of the music industry and strengthen my love to working with artists. I have since worked with Sony Music Middle East in Artist management and Bookings, followed by setting up the Beirut operations for Believe as their Label Manager for the Levant area before joining MDLBEAST Records as the current Senior Label Manager. I am lucky to be part of the region’s industry and participate in building its infrastructure!
Thank you again for having me and looking forward to sharing more exciting news with you!