STEP Music Festival 2017

Live Performances From MENA's Top Indie Artists

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Mashrou’ Leila

Since forming in 2008, Mashrou’ Leila have established themselves as the biggest Arabic-language band in the world.
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.

The Wanton Bishops

Mixing their raw blues-rock with Oriental and electronic flourishes, Lebanese rockers The Wanton Bishops are one of the most successful English-language bands to emerge from the region in recent years. Their high-energy live shows are not to be missed.

Narcy

Yassin Alsalman (aka Narcy, previously The Narcicyst) is recognised as one of the most distinctive voices in Arab hip-hop. The Iraqi-Canadian MC and multimedia artist blends performance with education, media with literacy, and creativity with cultural heritage.

2017

Artists

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!

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.

As a film enthusiast, he recently directed a short film for indigenous supergroup A Tribe Called Red, sharing the screen with Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def. Narcy is now a JUNO-nominated director of music videos (the JUNO Awards are Canada’s version of the Grammys).

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

Muqata'a

Muqata'a is a musician and MC based in Ramallah, Palestine. Creating sounds using sampled material, field recordings and electronic devices, Muqata’a’s music ranges between hip-hop, downtempo, and glitch. He has composed and produced music for artists including Kronos Quartet, Bukue One, Jehst, and Tamer Abu-Ghazaleh, among others, and has appeared as an MC on albums for Heliodrome, Slovo, Bonnot, and Beatoven to name a few. As the co-founder of the seminal Ramallah Underground Collective, who split up in 2009, Muqata’a is one of the most influential figures in Arab hip-hop. He is also co-founder and member of audio-visual group Tashweesh. He has composed several international and regional film scores, as well as dance theatre performances, and is currently working on a number of different collaborative and solo projects.

Malikah

Lynn Fattouh, aka Malikah (‘Queen’ in Arabic), was born in Marseille, France in 1986. Raised in Beirut under the shadow of war, Malikah first hit the Lebanese hip-hop scene aged 16, working with EMI Arabia in 2003 after winning a hip hop competition.

Thirteen years later, Malikah has performed on stage with, or opened for, some of the biggest names in music, including Snoop Dogg, Guns N’ Roses and Damon Albarn - having toured the festival circuit with Albarn, Mounir Troudi, Rashid Taha and the Syrian National Orchestra in the Summer of 2016 as part of Albarn’s Africa Express Tour - the third year in a row Malikah has toured with Africa Express.

Artists including DMC (Run DMC), Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, Mobb Deep, and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) have championed her rap skills - which have been thoroughly tested with audiences in Africa, North and South America, Europe, and the Arab world. Malikah was the first female Arab MC to reach corporate radio (topping NRJ’s chart in the Middle East), and has garnered production support from the likes of DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill), and FredWreck (Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre) for her upcoming debut album - Archeev.

A Red Bull opinion leader and Adidas ambassador, Malikah has championed Yahoo’s Change Your World event series - and has been a vocal advocate for women taking up the mantle as artists becoming vehicles for change within their respective societies.

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.

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.

The Recipe

Initially, The Recipe began as a project designed to bring talented hip-hop artists in the UAE together to record a compilation album and help promote the culture. As the project grew, the collective began receiving invites to perform live. Upon completion of the mixtape the collective launched the project under the name “The Recipe” with a sold-out event, the first hip-hop show headlined by regional artists in the UAE.

The Recipe eventually evolved into an independent label acting as a vehicle to launch solo projects from members. They have also released multiple mixtapes as a group. Today, The Recipe is a group that consists of 3 MCs – Swerte, Kaz Money and Perfect Storm – working on an official studio album while continuing to perform and push the boundaries of regional hip-hop achievements.

As a group or individuals, The Recipe have performed at clubs, art shows, exhibitions, festivals, charity gigs and concerts, either as the main act or in support of international artists including Macklemore, Rick Ross, Cypress Hill, Afrika Bambaataa, Snoop Dogg, Fatboy Slim, Akon, Fat Joe, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, De La Soul, Marcus Houston, Omarion, Lloyd, Prime Cuts, Foreign Beggars, Pendulum and Karl Wolf.

Moh Flow

Moh Flow is a singer-songwriter and MC hailing from one of the oldest cities known to man, Damascus. While residing in Dubai and traveling the world, the 24-year-old has been releasing music consistently for the past four years. On November 11, 2016 he released his debut album This is Yo(u), which has earned features on iTunes, Spotify, and other major online outlets, receiving over 1.4 million plays/streams. His music blends elements of hip-hop and R&B, and Moh Flow is equally at home singing and rapping. This year, he is gearing up to go on tour and will be releasing more music for the fans.

Bei Ru

Bei Ru is a multi-genre music producer from Los Angeles. Born to Armenian parents from Lebanon, Bei Ru was born in Los Angeles, where he began taking piano lessons at the age of 6, and began producing music at the age of 14.

His first unofficial release, ‘Beirut Gangster’, was a remix version of Jay-Z’s ‘American Gangster’ album, and featured original production by Bei Ru. It was released independently in 2008 to critical acclaim, including a write up in The Source magazine.

Bei Ru released his first album in 2010, entitled ‘Little Armenia (L.A.)’, which was a mostly-instrumental concept album featuring obscure samples of Armenian records from the 1970s and 1980s. ‘Little Armenia’ received an outpour of support by both critics and fans alike for being the first release of it’s kind, and also got the attention of artists such as will.i.am and Serj Tankian.

In 2014, Bei Ru scored three songs for the Vice Films release ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ (produced by Elijah Wood). In November of that year, he released his second album, ‘Saturday Night At The Magic Lamp’, which was a slightly more up-tempo and electronic follow-up to ‘Little Armenia (L.A.)’.

The following year, Bei Ru embarked on his first tour overseas, performing in various countries throughout the Middle East & Europe, including Lebanon, Norway, Dubai, Jordan, Kuwait, & Armenia.

His most recent album, ‘L.A. ZOOO’, came out in 2016, after teaming up with legendary Hip Hop label Fat Beats, who was responsible for releasing the album on vinyl, cassette, and digitally. Bei Ru is currently working on production for his next album, slated for a 2018 release.

DJ Lobito

LOBITO BRIGANTE ,Named as a "musical mastermind" by TimeOut Dubai and a "regional cultural leader" by the British Council, Lobito is a leading force in music culture, vinyl culture, turntablism, b- boying (breakdance) and aerosol art (graffiti & street art) in the region. He has been rated in the top 5 DJs of his B-boy style worldwide and has played to crowds of up to 37,000 people. He has gained international praise and respect for his skills & efforts from many artists such as the Beat Junkies, Public Enemy & Rock Steady Crew.

He was won multiple awards over the years from TimeOut, Hype Magazine, Whats On and others for his DJ skills and events and has just been nominated again in 2017 as Best DJ as well as the Outstanding Contribution award and also Best Alternative Night. He is the founder of Deep Crates Cartel (facebook.com/deepcratescartel), which is now the largest crew of DJs, aerosol artists, producers and vinyl collectors in the region.

Lobito was also the first person to organise a professional international bboy (breakdance) competition in the region. He is the music curator for Art Nights in DIFC and also the founder of the award winning art & culture event Street Nights (Middle East Event Awards Winner - Best Arts & Culture Event) (facebook.com/streetnightsdxb)

Esther Eden

Esther Eden was born in Goa, India. She moved with her mother – a jazz singer – to the UAE when she was only 7 months old but regularly visits her homeland.

Thanks to her mother, music has always been a part of Esther’s life. However, when she was younger, Esther preferred to concentrate on dancing and choreography. But in 2012, inspired by Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’ album, Esther’s interest in music grew and she is now self-taught at the guitar, piano and ukulele.

Her big break came when Jessie J came to her school and was floored when Esther performed the first original song she had written, “Is This Love”. Jessie J then invited Esther to perform for her concert that same evening and the rest, as they say, is history.

Towards the end of 2015, she signed a recording deal with Universal Music MENA. Since then, she has released three singles and her debut album Solitaire globally on major media platforms. “Is This Love” reached the top 30 on the iTunes and Anghami charts in the Middle East and India.

Esther started 2016 by premiering her first single, “Phoenix”, at RedFest DXB. Later, she was the youngest of 22 participants chosen for the Red Bull Music Academy Basecamp in Dubai. She ended 2016 by premiering Solitaire at Beats On The Beach in Abu Dhabi in front of over 50,000 people. She has shared the stage with huge international acts including Fifth Harmony, Adam Lambert, and Sean Paul.

Layla Kardan

LAYLA KARDAN debuts her EP with a soulful and sultry voice expressing undertones of Jazz and Soul music infused with Middle Eastern and poetic movements. Already in the Dubai music scene, she has per - formed at Emirates Jazz Festival, Art Dubai, The Global Education Forum, Emirates Literature Fes - tival and numerous Harpers Bazaar Arabia events. The singer is also a regular at exclusive venues such as Coya, OKKU, Blue Bar, The Music Room and The Capital Club. Internationally, she has collaborated with tal - ents from Sweden and Australia. Her exposure to different cultures and appreciation for genres brings a fresh and edgy approach to not only her music but also her creative direction and personal style. A true global citizen, the Australian national is currently living and producing in the United Arab Emirates. Born in Belgium with Iranian roots the singer started performing from a young age in - spired by Sade, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Arie and Nina Simone. Aiming to represent ethnic euphoria on a glob - al stage through her melodic riffs and rhythmic beats, LAYLA KARADAN captivates her audiences with true flair.

As Per Casper

As Per Casper is the artist name of Dubai-based singer-songwriter Carla Saad, who gave up a successful career in finance to pursue her true passion – music.

As Per Casper is the artist name of Dubai-based singer-songwriter Carla Saad, who gave up a successful career in finance to pursue her true passion – music.

As Per Casper’s debut album, Hit The Ground, was released last year and reached Number One on the UAE iTunes chart.

Carla works with a variety of musicians to record and perform her rich, full-bodied pop music, which incorporates piano, strings, guitar, percussion, darbukah, oud and trumpet, and aims to bridge traditional Western and Oriental sounds.

“My songs are a journey through my emotional experiences,” Carla says. “It’s what inspires me to write.”

Sail Into Night

Sail Into Night are a Dubai-based duo whose combination of electronic and organic sounds is best described as dreamy, dark pop with alternative rock undertones. The duo say their music is “a representation of our energy to surrender to external forces such as mortality. Rather than trying to control or change the rules, through our music we embrace the darkness head on.” They released their debut album, Passengers, in 2016.

Pimms Brooke

Pimms Brooke grew up in North London. As a child, her interest in music was sparked by jazz, soul and funk, and iconic artists such as Etta James, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion.

Upon her arrival in Dubai, her eclectic vocal style became a regular staple at The Act, Music Hall, GQ Bar, Cavalli, Crystal and Pacha. Pimms has also appeared at Mojeh Fashion, Fashion Forward, Dubai Music Week and Formula 1, among others. In 2015, she was nominated for “Best Live Music Act” in Ahlan! magazine’s Awards.

Her debut single “Not Giving Up” received airplay on both local and UK radio stations, while a unique acoustic version of the song has been making waves on Vevo. Her single “Notes To A Stranger” is out now. If her reviews so far are anything to go by, Pimms’s upcoming EP, Under The Layers, promises to be a resounding success. Pimms says her motto is: “Everything you do is unique.”

Saffron Collins

Saffron Collins is a 16-year-old singer-songwriter who plays guitar. She's originally from the UK, but is currently based in Dubai. Her debut EP, How’s That, was released on September 1, 2015 and features four original tracks written and performed by Saffron. Her music is indie-pop/rock, and she's also a solid acoustic performer. Saffron also composes her own electronic music. Her influences included Doves, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against The Machine and Jimi Hendrix. While she wants to establish herself as an original artist, Saffron is also a gifted cover singer, and in the summer of 2015 performed with the big band at Ronnie Scott's in London, covering “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. Saffron is keen to continue her association with producer and mentor Reiner Erlings who has been instrumental in helping Saffron develop her own style and unique sound.

Mark Shakedown

Mark began developing a great collection of music and mixing skills since the age of 15. His database spans multiple genres, but Mark’s true passion lies in house music. The 28 year-old DJ-producer got an early start, spinning his first on-air gig with Marco V at the age of 17. He’s had many years to perfect his hand, so it’s no wonder he’s one of the best-known DJs to launch out of Lebanon, spinning throughout the Gulf and Canada. Mark has played alongside many international DJs, including Dr Kucho - JD Davis and Steve Angelo. For the past 11 years, Mark’s house and progressive sounds have been broadcast to thousands of people every Saturday evening from 10pm to midnight on Radio One Lebanon on “The Shakedown”, one of the top dance shows in the region, featuring weekly sets by world-renowned DJs Hardwell & Dyro. Now DJing around the UAE, Mark has played at many of the country’s major events including the Abu Dhabi World Triathlon, Volvo Ocean Race Afterparty and the Formula 1 Fanzone. In Dubai, Mark has played at Nasimi Sunset Sessions alongside Booka Shade as well as XL Beach Club warm-up for Dash Berlin. He is also a resident DJ at Iris Dubai, voted Best Lounge by TimeOut Magazine.

Fady Ferraye

Fady Ferraye's sound is a deep affair with sexy electronic dance music driven by heavy techno-house beats and bass. Fady is known for his club residencies: At the legendary Club NL in Amsterdam (since 2005), and at top-50 ranked club B018 in Beirut (1999-2013), Strange Fruit, The Basement, and lately Playroom in Beirut. As a teenager, with access to his uncle’s vast record collection, Fady learned to shuttle his gigs from one shelter to another during the Lebanese Civil War – an unconventional start to a career that has since rocked India, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Croatia, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Romania, Armenia and more. Based in Amsterdam for more than eight years, Fady’s dance tracks have been released on labels around the globe, and are regularly played by celebrity DJs including Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, Sasha, Dave Seaman, John Digweed and James Zabiela.

Fady’s work has been remixed by Dimitri Andreas, Chris Fortier, Cid-Inc, Pole Folder and Kiko, among others. Other than headlining events, Fady has supported big names in the dance scene, including Dave Seaman, Paul Oakenfold, Nick Warren, Sasha, Christian Smith, Sander Kleinenberg, Kid Loco, Judge Jules, Tiesto, Marco V, Anthony Pappa, Deep Dish, Chuckie, Cirque Du Soleil, Guy J, and Robert Babicz. Fady Ferraye is one of the few DJS on the planet who never abandoned mixing on turntables.

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