9 talks and workshops at Dubai Dance Music Conference

Add the word “conference” to pretty much any noun and you reduce its appeal almost instantly. Love food? Sure. Love a food conference? Probably not. The perception is of a sterile meeting room, complete with laptops, graphs on a projector screens and a guy talking in acronyms into an ear-mic.

That Dubai’s inaugural Dance Music Conference, held at Pacha Ibiza Dubai on April 21 and 22, is being greeted with considerable excitement owes everything to Miami. The Winter Music Conference in Florida’s biggest city has been going since 1985 and has acted as a catalyst to the global electronic music scene. Gathering industry professionals, label bosses, agents and, of course, DJs and producers to network, share knowledge and, well, party, it has advanced the industry to such an extent that teenagers from Holland can now stand behind the decks at a sold-out sports stadium just about anywhere in the world.

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The timing is certainly right for Dubai to create its own version. House, techno, EDM and hip-hop dominate the city’s clubs, with the best international talent beating a path to the likes of Meydan, Zero Gravity, any of the beach clubs or even Level 41 at Media One Hotel. Combined with local talent in the booths and the recording studios, it is now a Middle Eastern Ibiza – an essential dance-music hub.

With the likes of Sister Bliss from Faithless and Mark Knight’s Toolroom Academy coming to town, the first Dance Music Conference is certainly dropping all the right names from day one.

Toolroom Academy
Mark Knight explains why he has brought his Toolroom Academy to Dubai – and what talent he hopes to find

“At the conference, the Toolroom Academy is giving producers – not DJs – in this region the chance to submit demo tracks to us personally. We’ll be doing some A&R feedback in front of an audience for the best, but everyone will get a personal email with feedback. There will also be some production masterclasses from myself, Prok & Fitch, plus some careers advice from my brother and the MD of Toolroom, Stuart Knight. So we think we have created a unique experience for attendees of the conference.

At Toolroom Academy, we’re looking for two things, really. Firstly, we are always looking to find new producers with talent and potential – who have made music that shows original, creative ideas coupled with a good sense of overall audio quality. Secondly, and this is really crucial, we’re looking for producers who fit the remit of Toolroom’s musical identity. We stand for house, tech house and techno. It means so much more to me, and to our A&R team, if producers who submit demos to us have done some research on what we stand for.

It’s always good to meet people who have a passion for electronic music and want to learn more about it. That’s why we started Toolroom Academy – to educate and inform people about music production and careers within dance music.

I’m a great fan of Dubai. I have played here many times and it’s also a place I love to take my family on the rare occasions I’m not working. To me it feels like a very vibrant place where there is a great appetite to learn more about electronic music, so I can really see the Dance Music Conference becoming
a major part of the electronic music community’s calendar.”

Thursday, April 21

Toolroom Demo Drop
Aspiring producers can hand in their demos.
When: From 10:15am

The Life of a Record: “Into My Life”
Toolroom founder Mark Knight will be discussing the process of compiling a record.
When: 11am

Building A Track From Scratch
DJ duo Prok & Fitch will be giving spinning enthusiasts the lowdown on how to make a musical masterpiece.
When: 2pm

A&R Feedback session
Stuart Knight and Matt Smallwood will review the best demo tracks submitted.
When: 5:20pm

Friday, April 22 

Q&A with club owners and managers
Including David Lescarret, founder and MD of Dubai’s Billionaire Mansion.
When: 10am

Trials and Tribulations of Hosting a Successful Dance Event
Rima Rached of Night Vibes, Karim Jivraj of Plus/Minus and Nicolas Vandenabeele of Envie Events share their insights.
When: 11:15am

Q&A with A-List DJs
Sister Bliss and Italian DJ EDX will be hosting a Q&A session.
When: 2pm

Building an Independent Record Label
How to start and run your own record company.
When: 3pm

Rise and Challenges of Dubai’s Underground
Founder of Analog Room, Mehdi Ansari, will be discussing the growth of the city’s underground scene.
When: 4:15pm

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