STEP Conference 2017

Representing the Region's Independent Music Scene
April 7 | Dubai International Marine Club

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About

STEP Music

STEP Music in partnership with Anghami is bringing together music leaders, record labels, producers and artists together under one roof to explore the latest trends, challenges and the future of the regional music industry – all combined with live performances from some of the region’s top independent artists!

About

STEP Music Festival

Featuring 18 independent artists from around the region performing live across 12 hours – from alternative rock to hip-hop, electro-pop to jazz/soul. Starting just before 2pm with cool pop sounds on our indoor stage, you can enjoy a full day of awesome music with a killer hip-hop lineup in the evening and four of the region’s biggest bands on our outdoor stage, all rounded off by two great DJs playing till 2am.

Don’t miss it.

See Who's Performing

2017 Performers

Mashrou Leila

Mashrou' Leila is a five-strong indie band based in Beirut. Born out of a late night / early morning jam session at the American University of Beirut, Mashrou' Leila (whose name roughly translates to Overnight Project) fill their live performances with some of the most bittersweet ballads and raucous anthems you’re likely to hear.

Their rousing, sensual electro-pop anthems about political freedoms, race, religion and modern Arabic identity have challenged the status quo of the Middle Eastern pop industry. Mashrou’ Leila have won fans worldwide, and were the first Middle Eastern artists on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The band has self-released four albums to date. Their most recent, Ibn El Leil (2015) – launched at the Barbican in London – brilliantly reimagines the vibrant sound of contemporary Beirut with guitars, drum machines, samples, razor-sharp violin and magnetic frontman Hamed Sinno’s mercurial voice.

The Wanton Bishops

The Wanton Bishops define Lebanese rock & roll. Since 2012, Nader Mansour has been gathering friends and collaborators around him to take his raw blues-induced rock & roll down an ethnic-electronic highway shimmering with colourful romantic psychedelia.

From Glastonbury to SXSW, Nova Rock to Solidays, The Wanton Bishops have seduced audiences all over the world with visceral energy, intimate sensitivity, and haunting confusion. After a highly acclaimed debut album Sleep With The Lights On, they recently released a new EP, Nowhere Everywhere, showcasing a special brew of rock & roll than could only originate from Beirut, with its notorious identity crisis and cultural openness: It’s Lebanese rock & roll!

WeAreTheMedium

Narcy

Narcy, formerly known as The Narcicyst, is the artist name of Yassin Alsalman, a musician, actor, professor and multimedia artist based out of Montreal, Canada. Being a pioneer of the Arab hip-hop movement through his Iraqi trio Euphrates in the early 2000s, Narcy was a seminal part of a growing voice in the public sphere.

Currently teaching one of Canada's only hip-hop courses, at Concordia University in Montreal, Narcy’s ethos has been to blend performance with education, media with literacy, and creativity with cultural heritage. Narcy also currently heads WeAreTheMedium, an international family of independent creatives that come together for curation, performance, consultation and product-based creation.

Narcy has successfully partnered with several multinational brands throughout his career.

Autostrad

Autostrad are an Arab Mediterranean indie band from Jordan. They play eclectic, original music inspired by a number of different genres including reggae, funk, Latin and rock, all with an authentic Arabic touch. Autostrad have released three albums: Fe Autostrad (2009), Autostrad 2011 (2011), and Nitrogen (2013) and are currently working on their fourth.

Inspired by everyday life in Jordan, Autostrad’s repertoire tackles a variety of themes, including love stories, struggle, financial challenges, drug abuse and finding oneself. They have a wide-reaching fanbase among youth in Jordan, the wider Arab world, and Europe and America.

Autostrad have a signature slogan in Jordanian Arabic, “Agwa no3”, meaning “the best kind”. It is the band’s catchphrase when they refer to their fans, music and the causes they advocate.

Adonis

Adonis are a four-piece Lebanese pop-rock band, famed for their engaging Arabic lyrics, catchy tunes, and playful arrangements. Formed in 2011, Adonis made their first steps as an online sensation with signature tracks like “Stouh Adonis” and “Daw El Baladiyyi”. The band have since performed at the most prestigious venues across Lebanon and the Arab world, and headlined major festivals, including the Beirut Holidays Festival, the Beirut Spring Festival, and Amman’s BAB Music Festival. Adonis have been the face and voice of major campaigns across the Middle-East, including the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism’s “Live Love Lebanon” campaign, Lipton Levant’s “Cup Half Full” campaign, and Pepsi’s “Out Of The Blue”, to be launched in summer 2017.

Following the best-selling albums “Daw L Baladyyi” (2011) & “Men Shou Bteshki Beirut” (2013), Adonis are collaborating with renowned regional producer Jean-Marie Riachi on their third release. Due in 2017, the two pre-release singles of the album, “Eza Shi Nhar” and “La Bel Haki”, are already leaving a solid mark on the Arabic pop landscape. "Their music is something to fall in love with. The five boys from Adonis produce songs that are, at times, achingly gorgeous, charming, whimsical and enchantingly Lebanese.” - Now Lebanon

Flipp & Daffy

Daffy & Flipp are the MCs behind the monster hit “Ee Laa” (13 million YouTube views and rising), produced by DJ Outlaw. Bahraini MC Flipp (real name Hussam Aseem) and Kuwaiti singer/rapper Daffy (real name Nawaf Fahed) are both well-respected artists in their own right, and have successfully collaborated on the album 9ARAT, which reached Number One on iTunes MENA. Both are on the roster of Outlaw Productions. Daffy’s solo sound fuses hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz, reggae, and a bit of Arabic/Middle Eastern, blending different cultures in a unique sound. In 2014, his single “Samboosa” took the region by storm, hitting over 1 million views on YouTube. Flipp (ake Flipperachi) is known for his energetic performance and explosive lyrics. In May 2015, Flipp shared the stage with one of hip-hop’s biggest icons, DMC of RUN DMC, in a live performance of RUN DMC’s hit single “Rock Box”. Together, Daffy, Flipp and DJ Outlaw are bringing mainstream recognition to Middle East hip-hop.

2017 Speakers

Musician/Composer

Oussama Rahbani

Producer and composer Oussama Rahbani was born in Lebanon in 1965. As the son of the legendary composer and poet Mansour Rahbani, Oussama grew up in a family where music was a huge influence, which allowed him to acquire a rich background and experience. Along with his studies at Berklee College of Music, that experience helped him create a genre of his own. He has contributed to many of his father’s works, as composer, orchestrator and artistic consultant. But Oussama has also created, produced, composed and orchestrated several musical plays of his own. He is one of the most respected producers and composers in the Middle East. Along with many successful songs, albums, music videos and concerts, Oussama has mentored and introduced to the music scene many famous singer, including Hiba Tawaji, Carole Samaha, Rudy Dagher, Wadih Abi Raad, Youssef el Khal, Lorette Helou, and many more.

Musician

Ramy Essam

Ramy Essam became an overnight sensation during the Egyptian revolution, when the songs he performed in Tahrir Square became the anthems of a whole generation of young Egyptians struggling for a better future. International media attention quickly followed, and before long Ramy’s name was known far beyond Egypt. His song “Irhal” (“Leave”) was ranked Number Three in Time Out London’s ‘100 Songs That Changed History’.

In October 2014, Ramy was offered safe city residence in Malmö, Sweden, where he has been working on new material, creating an album where heavy rock riffs join forces with infectious Oriental beats and political street poetry demanding social justice, gender equality and human rights.

Ramy is an artist of, and for, the people. Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, who signed Ramy to his Firebrand Records label, has described Ramy as the “hard-rock Bob Dylan of the Middle East”.

Mashrou' Leila

Hamed Sinno

Hamed Sinno is the frontman of acclaimed Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila, who have established themselves as the world’s biggest Arabic-language band over the past decade. Sinno and his bandmates have consistently fought to prove there is an audience for Arabic music that doesn’t fit the established commercial template – their sound is sensual and rich, celebratory and melancholy. Sinno’s distinctive vocals, his smart, evocative lyrics, and his charismatic stage presence have all been major factors in Mashrou’ Leila’s continuing success.

Anghami

Eddy Maroun

Eddy is the co-founder of Anghami – the leading music streaming service in the Middle East. In late 2012, seizing the opportunity of a lack of proper digital music service, Eddy and his partner Elie Habib launched Anghami (meaning My Tunes in Arabic). Since then, Anghami has reached over 33 million users, streams close to 20 million licensed Arabic & English tracks and is integrated with 20 mobile operators. Anghami successfully raised VC money from MEVP and recently from Samena Capital, it also has 2 telcos on board Mobily-KSA and du-UAE - it partnered with MBC the largest media group in the region.

Universal Music MENA

Patrick Boulos

Patrick Boulos is Universal Music's CEO for the Middle East and North Africa. In this capacity, he is in charge of the Group's strategy and growth in this region, which holds great promise for the development of cultural exchanges. He builds strategic partnerships and develops innovative services and tools to promote the diverse musical offering of Universal's labels. He also works to expand this catalogue by discovering local talent. Patrick’s connection with music started at a very early age; since his childhood he was surrounded by a strong musical influence and environment as his mother was a piano instructor, and he enrolled in music classes himself. A lot of his leisure time was spent listening to records, and reading about new musical trends and developments and the music makers on the scene. Attending live shows was always his passion, and his first was at the age of 11. His journey with Universal Music Group started in 2001 in Paris, France, after multiple years of advertising experience with multinational ad agencies. He moved to the Middle East in 2010 to establish the operation of the company in Dubai and to found Universal Music MENA to look after the multiple markets of this region.

JMR Productions

Jean-Marie Riachi

Jean-Marie Riachi is a multi-award-winning Lebanese arranger, composer and record producer. The first record he produced was Elissa’s Baddi Doub, which catapulted them both to stardom. In 2001, he founded the acclaimed JMR Studios in Rabieh. In 2002, he created his own label, Oriental Music Publishing.

Jean-Marie has produced songs for numerous advertisements and films throughout his career, including “Nour El Shams”, the theme tune for the 2001 movie Spy Game, starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

In 2006, he arranged and mixed "Light the Way", performed by José Carreras and Majida El Roumi at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. He also composed “La Ma Kholssit Lehkayi”, the all-star tribute to ex-Lebanese prime minister Rafik El Hariri, which has since become a local political anthem. In 2009, Jean-Marie teamed up with several prominent Lebanese pop singers, including Ramy Ayach and Yara, to produce the multilingual Belaaks, which presented a unique fusion between ethnic oriental instruments and an acoustic jazz band. The platinum-certified album was followed by an equally successful sequel, Belaaks 2, in 2015, which showcased unique collaborations with John Legend and Julio Iglesias.

He is currently the musical director and producer of the Arabic edition of The Voice, rated the most popular TV show in the Arab world. Jean-Marie continues to produce dozens of best-selling albums and countless hits for the biggest Arabic pop singers. He has also branched out into more alternative music genres, developing grassroots musical concepts such as "Laylet Tarab" with a selection of The Voice finalists, and producing Lebanese indie band Adonis’s latest album.

The Wanton Bishops

Nader Mansour

Nader Mansour is the man behind Lebanese rock & roll outfit The Wanton Bishops. Born and raised somewhere between the Lebanese mountains and Beirut, Nader left his country in 2005 to pursue financial engineering studies in Paris, France. It wasn't long before music hijacked his soul, making everything else seem like a faint hint of life.

Nader first started playing harmonica in Parisian Jazz and Blues clubs, but it was his love of rock & roll, classical oriental music, and Beirut that sent him straight back home to form what has become the adventure of his life, The Wanton Bishops. A self-released debut EP, Bad Rhyme, in 2013, followed by a highly acclaimed full length album Sleep With The Lights On, established The Wanton Bishops as a leading force in Lebanon and the Middle East and opened the doors wide for the band to start touring.

A couple of years later, having toured from Europe to the US, Africa to India, headlining festivals, supporting prestigious names (The Who, Guns N' Roses, Lana Del Rey, Sting), Nader and his band have performed at Glastonbury, SXSW, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Rocking The Daisies and more, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the global musical spectrum. In 2016, the band released their second EP, Nowhere Everywhere, making a shift from raw blues rock to a mix of ethnic-electronic psychedelic rock & roll that Nader calls “Lebanese Rock & Roll”. Nader arrives in Dubai on a short detour from the band’s current intensive European tour.

Musician

Hamza Hawsawi

Hamza Hawsawi, also known as Ayzee, is a prolific singer-songwriter hailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is best known for winning The X Factor Arabia in 2015. Hamza’s work is inspired by R&B, soul and pop music. Hamza is currently working on his debut album – recorded and produced in London, Dubai and Los Angeles – and says he can't wait to share it all with his loving and supportive fans. Although he was signed to Sony Music after winning The X Factor Arabia, he is releasing his album independently. The first single from the album, “Love A Little”, was released in January.

WeAreTheMedium

Narcy

Narcy, formerly known as The Narcicyst, is the artist name of Yassin Alsalman, a musician, actor, professor and multimedia artist based out of Montreal, Canada. Being a pioneer of the Arab hip-hop movement through his Iraqi trio Euphrates in the early 2000s, Narcy was a seminal part of a growing voice in the public sphere.

Currently teaching one of Canada's only hip-hop courses, at Concordia University in Montreal, Narcy’s ethos has been to blend performance with education, media with literacy, and creativity with cultural heritage. Narcy also currently heads WeAreTheMedium, an international family of independent creatives that come together for curation, performance, consultation and product-based creation.

Narcy has successfully partnered with several multinational brands throughout his career.

Glava Holdings

Ghassan Chartouni

Ghassan Chartouni, is a strategic planner and a key social contact to reach all individuals in the entertainment business. During his 25-years career in the music industry, Ghassan has implemented and managed media stations, organized music production, advocated management in the entertainment field and handled music publishing. He started his career as the General Manager of Ciel Fm/Sawt al Ghad, expanding its reach from Lebanon-only to Pan-Arab. Later on, Ghassan headed Music Master International, the appointed licensee company for Warner Music, Universal Music and many other labels in the Middle East. He is currently the CEO of Glava Holding, which includes artist management company Music Is My Life, music marketing enterprise Deepiu, digital labels Watary and Ghannili, production house Flava Production, and publishing company Middle East Copyrights. Ghassan has accumulated extensive knowledge – and built a solid reputation – in creative strategy¸ marketing and brand building.

Sony Music Entertainment

Arun Sajjan

Arun heads the Digital Business and Marketing for Sony Music Entertainment in the Middle East region. Arun has more than 14 years experience in the music and entertainment business. He joined Sony Music in 2011 and has since been part of the ever-growing business of digital music. Since moving to Dubai with Sony Music, Arun has seen digital music develop rapidly in the region with the launch of services like Anghami, Apple Music and Deezer. Arun has worked extensively in the Indian subcontinent and Middle East region, and being part of a global company like Sony Music he gets to experience learnings from all over the world. Apart from heading the Digital Business arm, Arun has also been active in A&R, having signed Dubai-based acts including Clarita De Quiroz and Two Tone, as well as Bollywood projects, to Sony Music’s local roster. Prior to working with Sony Music, Arun worked at two of the biggest mobile Value Added Services platform companies – OnMobile and Buongiorno – working on the entertainment side of the business. Arun holds a Management degree in International Business and Marketing.

OUTLAW Productions

DJ Outlaw

DJ Outlaw (Mohammed Al Mohri) was born and raised in Bahrain, and is the founding member of Outlaw Productions creative studio. His DJ career started in 1997, but it was 2009 before he released his debut studio album History in the Making, featuring many local and international artists. It was the first Bahraini hip-hop album to be distributed in musical outlets across the country as well as being sold on digital distribution platforms including iTunes and Amazon. His annual mixtape series “The Middle East Invasion” (which is currently on volume six) presents Arab artitsts handpicked by Outlaw so that the world can experience what Arabian hip-hop has to offer. Most recently Outlaw joined Radio Bahrain 96.5FM in October of 2016 and is now hosting his own Hiphop/RnB drive time show every Friday.

Outlaw has been producing music since 2003. “Bahrain Unite” and 2011’s “Arab World Unite” were two of his biggest projects so far – the latter, featuring seven artists from around the Arab world, was released on Saudi hip-hop artist Qusai’s album, and both tracks garnered international media attention. In 2014, the hit single “Samboosa” – produced by Outlaw and performed by Kuwaiti Outlaw Productions artist, Daffy – quickly went viral, bagging 100,000 views on YouTube within a week of the video release. In July 2016, 9ARAT, a collaborative album between Outlaw Productions artists Flipperachi and Daffy produced by DJ Outlaw, was released, claiming the Number One spot on the iTunes MENA charts. The video for one of the album’s singles “EE LAA” was released in July 2016, and now has over 10 million YouTube views. The single also reached Number One on the iTunes MENA general and hip-hop charts.

Outlaw has also worked with artists including G-unit, DJ Lord Sear, MC Lyte, Jaz O, The Outlawz, TQ, Ace Hood, Freeway, Mad Skillz, Fatman Scoop and actor Orlando Jones. He has shared a stage with DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Tony Touch, Junior Jack, Yves Larock, Fatman Scoop, DJ KOOL, Shortie Blitz, Just Blaze, Tabu of the Black Eyed Peas, and most recently, DMC of RUN DMC.

Nervecell

Rami H. Mustafa

Rami H. Mustafa is best known as the guitarist of the hugely successful Dubai-based extreme metal band, Nervecell – the Middle East’s biggest-selling metal act, hailed as one of the “50 Heroes of the New Metal Revolution” by Metal Hammer magazine. He is also an entrepreneur: He’s the owner of Shredder’s Planet Musical Instruments and Studio, and managing partner of coffee franchise Icons Coffee Couture. Being a passionate, self-taught musician and an MBA graduate, Rami has used his talent and skills in both music and in business. Rami and Nervecell have toured around the world and shared the stage with Metallica, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Decapitated, Suffocation and many more. Rami is sponsored by Ibanez Guitars, ENGL Amplifiers, EMG Pickups, GHS Strings and others.

Anghami

Rami Zeidan

Rami started his 17-year career in music, media, marketing and technology as a DJ at a leading radio station in Lebanon. After graduating with a computer science degree, Rami discovered his love for communication and worked in media, consulting for global brands including PepsiCo, Visa, and McDonald's. Today, and with an MBA in marketing, Rami leads the marketing of Anghami, the region’s fastest-growing music platform with the mission to connect musicians, fans, and brands.

Anghami

Elie Abou Saleh

Elie has been working in the media and entertainment industry for eight years all the way from hosting TV shows to content production and finally creative online solutions. Over the past six years, he has helped set up digital monetization strategies for leading entertainment platforms. Currently acting as the Commercial Director at Anghami, the largest music streaming service in MENA offering unique and creative advertising solutions.

Music

What Goes On?

Panels, presentations, workshops and fireside chats from an array of speakers – from artists, record label executives, marketing and advertising experts, talent managers, brand managers and more.

Talks

Food trucks, vendors, street artists, gamers and skaters and more. As well as brands, artists, promoters, agencies, labels, and others showcasing their products and services.

Activities

With performances from some of the MENA region’s most exciting underground and up-and-coming talent, from alternative rock to indie-pop, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, soul, funk and fusion.

STEP Music Festival

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