INTERVIEW: Carl and The Reda Mafia
How lucky do you have to be to form a band in October 2014, then open for Bon Jovi in front of 25,000 fans under a year later? As lucky as four-piece progressive funk band Carl and The Reda Mafia, apparently. The Dubai-based group, the first band to sign with UAE studio White Cube, next headline for rapper J Cole at this month’s Beats on the Beach in Abu Dhabi (Friday November 27), and we figured we ought to get to know them better before they get too inaccessibly famous.
How did all of you meet, and when was the moment you knew it’d work out?
Carl: I met Tarek Reda through a friend. I was a massive fan of his style and ability. Chris, our bassist, was in a band with Tarek at that time, and Bims, our drummer, I found on LinkedIn. We all had met for the first time at a jam space and went with the flow. We knew then that this was going to be special.
We all come from extremely different styles – Reda comes from a classic rock and rock’n’roll era, Chris from a metal background, Bims from gospel, and I come from Motown and country music. You might think we'd find it difficult to find common ground, but to be honest, the diversity in our influences is what makes our sound so fresh and unique.
You call your style “funk jam”…
Reda: The diversity in our influences formed a genre, which has primarily funk elements with rock n roll, blues-rock and pop fused in. It's a fused genre that would appeal to the rocker, the raver and the pop lover. Immediate musical influences include the John Mayer trio, Jonny Lang, and Dave Matthews band.
You’re opening for J Cole, a whole lot different from Bon Jovi last year. What's your plan of action for this gig?
Bims: J Cole being a Grammy nominated artist itself tells you he's got a world of talent and experience. The Bon Jovi experience was mind blowing. The fact that we were able to play Du Arena itself in less than a year as a band was hard to comprehend. The rush we got from playing to 25,000 people at Du Arena would surely help us at Beats on the Beach.
If you could open for anyone else next, who would it be?
Reda: For sure John Mayer. He's been a massive influence and we'd love to warm the crowd for him.
Are you going in any different/interesting directions with new and upcoming tracks? What are you working on, and how would you describe it?
Chris: Now since we're done recording our first album and it's been a year together as a band, we've found the direction we want to go which is using complex musical progressions, but at the same time, we want to keep the melodies simple and catchy so it doesn't go over people's heads. Our newer material clearly shows you the maturity of the band and how focused we've become.
Have you ever compared your following in Dubai with that in Abu Dhabi? Are you received different in each city? What's the fan vibe like?
Carl: We have, actually. I think the crowd in Abu Dhabi is more dedicated to supporting local acts and we see that with their passion towards the local artists. Dubai has more opportunities of course and the people here are still warming up to the indie music scene.
Do you already have any weird/fun fan stories you can share?
Carl: I was at church once, a day after the Du Arena gig. Across from me was a family who kept looking over and all of a sudden one of the kids ran up to me and said “my dad loves you”. I had to explain to people around me that I was in a band and it wasn't something weird.
If this band could finish off the year with a bang, how would you do it?
Reda: I'd like to say we'd enjoy doing something on the level of Beats on Beach or Du Arena, but truth is we'd like our next single to go viral and build up to our debut album "What the", to be released in January next year.
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