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Music Scouts DXB concludes at Lock Stock & Barrel

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The music scene in Dubai might still be dominated by European males with headphones and Pioneer decks, but there is a live music scene that is beginning to evolve beyond the usual pub-corner cover bands.

Music Scouts DXB has been underlining the point in the last month or so; after four fierce heats, its battle-of-the-bands format has now come down to a grand finale at Tecom’s Lock, Stock and Barrel bar – with the rather tasty carrot of a recording session in Nashville, Tennessee being dangled in front of the four remaining local acts. ShortList caught up with them ahead of the March 18 showdown.

Josh Mccartney
Nationality: Australian
Style: Singer-Songwriter

What’s your musical background?
I studied music at university in Brisbane and have been in a number bands, actually as a drummer. In 2013, I went on tour with Australian Idol finalist James Johnston, completing 50 gigs in 50 days. It was pretty insane. In a town called Gympie, we even played in a bowling alley, with games still going on either side of us. I moved to Dubai for a residency at Anantara on The Palm and have been gigging since.

Where do you play in Dubai?
All over, really. I’ll play at a five-star hotel one night and at a corporate event the next. Since the Anantara residency ended, I’m pretty much booked out seven nights a week.

Why did you enter Music Scouts?
Not sure, really! I have never actually entered a competition like this before but when I heard there was a trip to Nashville and the chance to record there, it became very interesting. Nashville is a great place and to spend some time there would be a great opportunity.

Who are your influences?
When I was drumming, it was psych rock stuff like The Mars Volta, mainly for the rhythms. But with the guitar, I’d say John Mayer for sure, Dave Matthews Band and Bon Iver – and also more RnB stuff, like Mario, because it’s so much fun to play.

Chances of winning?
Not sure. I’m nervous, I’ll admit that. I know Jaye and Foe, and I have seen a bit of the other guys’ stuff on YouTube, and they’re all good. If I win, great. If I don’t, the other guys will deserve it and I’ll wish them well.

Josh Monteath
Nationality: Indian/Portuguese
Style: Singer-songwriter

What’s your musical background?
I was in a band until 2012 or so but it was proving difficult to keep a solid lineup together – it’s the nature of Dubai that people come and go. Instead of trying to recruit new members, I thought I’d go solo and have been for three years now.

Where do you play in Dubai?
I do a lot of the open-mic nights around town, Pizza Express and Tribeca, but I also have a lot of one-off bookings coming up, like the Sikka art fair this weekend.

Why did you enter Music Scouts?
I heard about it through a friend and it just seemed pretty cool; I saw it as another chance to play. The prize is excellent, too, and I’d love to go to Nashville as one of my old band members lives there now, so it would be a great chance for a reunion. Just playing at Lock, Stock and Barrel is going to be great, too.

Who are your influences?
The biggest would be John Mayer. My song-writing really matured when I started listening to him. My iPod is full of things like Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, things from the 1960s and 1970s – not that you’ll hear too much of that in my set.

Chances of winning?
I was really surprised to win the heat so who knows? I know Lucas and Jaye and Foe, and I know they’re all talented. It’s odd that there’s another guy on his own with a guitar called Josh, though… I may have to bust out an Elton John costume to make sure the judges don’t confuse us!

Lucas Leao
Nationality: British
Style: Pop-rock band

What’s you musical background?
I have always been writing songs and playing music, but when I went to study in the UK, I left it behind a bit. It was only when I returned here that I picked up the guitar again. A friend then persuaded me to go to an open mic night at Pizza Express – and I’ve been part of that scene ever since. For Music Scouts, I have a full band behind me, and in the final, I’ll have Khalifa Thani on bass and TJ Sequeira on drums.

Where do you play in Dubai?
I used to be a regular at the open-mic nights at Pizza Express in JLT and Tribeca in JBR. But I’m now about to start my first residency, which will be at Thyme restaurant at the JA Oasis Beach Tower in JBR. Very exciting.

Why did you enter Music Scouts?
I’ve been writing music for such a long time but I’ve never really done anything with it. Over the last six months, I feel my songs and my performances have developed to such a degree that it seemed stupid not to do it. Going to Nashville would, of course, be fantastic, but the most important thing is it’s another gig, another chance to put on a great show.

Who are your influences?
Well, I grew up in Dubai at a time when we didn’t have that much access to music other than what was on the radio or a few TV shows. So, I love rock, like the Foo Fighters, but I have to say – and my friends will kill me for admitting this – I really like the band Blue, and we even covered their song “All Rise” in the heats. They taught me a lot about vocal harmony.

Chances of winning?
Off stage, I’m not a hugely confident person, so I don’t really think about it! The other guys are all so different and have unique elements – Josh McCartney’s technical ability, Josh Monteath’s unreal passion, Jaye and Foe’s amazing, original sound – so it depends on what works with the judges on the night, I guess.

Jaye & Foe
Nationality:
British
Style: Jazz Folk

What’s you musical background?
Joe: I’m a classically trained pianist but I left that behind to focus on jazz. I then joined a funk covers band! I’ve been playing with Faye since 2014. The band, whose name comes from a mistake when were being announced on stage by the way, developed very organically from there as we added members.
Faye: I’m also classically trained, but I was very much into folk and was doing that kind of singer-songwriter style at open-mics. Jaye and Foe started with a couple of very small gigs but we instantly got really positive feedback and it grew from there. We now call our music “Jazzy folk with reggae and brassy Balkan beats”.

Where do you play in Dubai?
Faye: We haven’t got any residencies or anything like that, but we do make a lot of appearances at festivals. We’re playing the Sikka fair that takes place the day after the final, and we played at the Beach Canteen in the Dubai Food Festival.

Why did you enter Music Scouts?
Joe: We heard about it quite late, actually, and it was more a case of “why not?”, I think. Like any performer, you enjoy being up on stage and playing and it’s great to be a part of events like this that get behind local bands. And with Nasville as the prize, it’s also a great opportunity.

Who are your influences?
Faye: For me it’s very much the lyrical folk singers like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and, today, Joanna Newsom. But I also love Latin rhythms and reggae, too.
Joe: I’m probably a bit of a jazz snob, to be honest, so I like artists like Michel Camilo.

Chances of winning?
Faye: The competition is actually the strange part about it all, considering we are all so different. So, I’m not sure.
Joe: Our set will be purely original material, so all we can do is go up there and have a great time. We’ll have fun after the show, whatever!

When: Friday, March 18, from 7pm
Where: Grand Millennium, Tecom

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