Electronic Music Man is one of the region's first podcasts dedicated to, as you would have imagined by the title, electronic music. As the brainchild of Dubai-based, Australian DJ/producer/curator and promoter, James Locksmith - who also hosts - the podcast aims to burrow into the ethos of various artists around the world and discuss the trials and tribulations of being a musician in today's turbulent age, through the lens of mental health and personal development.
As someone who has been behind the decks for over 20 years, curated festivals and been part of the development of independent music communities, Locksmith has a wealth of experience to call from during these conversations, as well as a whole host of connections within the industry to bring in engaging artists, each with a story to tell.
Guests on the podcast thus far include Sudanese singer/songwriter, AlSarah (of Al Sarah and The Nubatones), whose episode centred around racism and colonialism in music in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. One of Britain's most sought after next gen DJs, Jamz Supernova, meanwhile, rapped on the importance of self belief and the rise of a new fearless internet born DIY generation. During the Ultraviolet DXB online festival last April, Locksmith hosted an eclectic live-streamed round table discussion on free online content, live performances and well-being practices during the pandemic with peak performance coach, Arsalan Al Hashim, as well as two figures helping drive forward UAE's music scene, Ma'ana Music label head, Tobie Allen, and Infusion Magazine founder, Charl Chaka. Other episodes have featured veteran Spanish DJ/producer, Kiko Navarro, British DJ/producer, Daniel Berman, New York based vinyl DJ, Natasha Diggs, and most recently, Lisbon-based songwriter from the Central African Republic, Boddhi Satva - all from deeply different backgrounds and career paths but united in the common struggles in terms of connecting with a crowd in a post-streaming, post-corona, post-BLM world.
SceneNoise reached out to James Locksmith to find out more about how the podcast came about, what he's learned from it and where the future of the region's nightlife industry is heading.
-Alright, so what made you launch Electronic Music Man?
-I've been wanting to introduce transformation and well-being in music for some time. First I thought of combining it with my other podcast, ‘Tracks On My Radar', although I decided to keep it separate to not blur the lines. This subject is very important to me; while mediation and yoga have been part of my life for just over 20 years, I have been learning about mental health, NLP, hypnotherapy, transformation, personal development and entrepreneurship for about 12 years and introducing it into my own personal and professional life. I wanted to combine these worlds somehow and when I had a clearer vision of how, and after finally letting go of my own past old stories and traumas, Electronic Music Man was born. It became apparent how to combine these worlds.
I'm still evolving, transforming and, through this process, I want to help transform others on their paths in music, professionally and personally. Everyone can listen, it was created to help young male DJs, producers, music professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs, break down masculinity stereotypes, negative generational conditioning, share tips, tactics, methods, lifestyle practices of those in both music and the transformation industries, for better ways to improve lives and the music industry.
-Is there a specific theme in choosing the artists you do?
-You don't need to be a monk, a guru, a vegan, or gluten-free - that's fine if that's your choice. EMM focuses on sharing stories, past and present challenges, wins, failures, accomplishments, rituals and habits, any specific practices used daily and, now during the crisis in particular, things that help focus, being on point, on purpose, on their music mission and aligned with values. I'm speaking with people in the music industry, particularly in electronic music, creatives, artists, musicians, singers, songwriters, DJs, producers, professionals, entrepreneurs and people in transformation and peak performance industries.
-Why do you think music podcasts in the Middle East are few and far between? Do you think the region is just catching up to the podcast format?
-Quite a few have emerged and they have been pre-COVID too. It may well be because the region is seeing the benefits of a podcast in their business models which they may have overlooked before, however COVID has definitely ignited more podcast culture. There seems to be many more coming, which is fantastic, along with the rise of online community radio across the region, including online streaming, which is extremely exciting for the independent music communities across MENA. MENA is at the dawn of a whole new industry emerging in the region, even while it's looking quite grim at the moment.
Are there any podcasts out there that inspired your show or that you particularly enjoy?
Yes indeed, quite a bit! In no particular order just to name a few:
Mark Groves; Beats in Space with Tim Sweeney; Mastin Kipp; Broken Record with Rick Rubin; Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik; London Real with Brian Rose, Hanging Out with Audiophiles with Jamie Lidell; WTF with Marc Maron; and Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu.
-How are you conducting the interviews?
-For now, via Zoom. We record both audio and video, and we also use a digital recorder to record - so I have multiple options to choose or if anything goes wrong. Available on all good podcasts platforms, including Apple and Spotify and I'll soon be going to YouTube!
-What would you say were the top moments or nuggets of information from your interviews so far?
-Every guest has shared some amazing stories and insights. The one thing in common is that we're all out here trying, learning, transforming and working on ourselves one way or another.
-Which artists can we look out for in future podcasts?
Ohhh can't reveal any just yet, but I am making announcements weekly on Instagram and via my newsletters and notifications.
-As a DJ and someone working primarily in the music industry, how are you currently coping with the COVID-19 crisis?
-It was a tough reality to face. It wasn't easy at the start and, for many months, scary and emotional. However, I chose to stay focused on where I've wanted to go with my work and projects online. This was just the catalyst to do so more than ever. You can say I was preparing for this direction and there was no other choice, no distractions and I had to make it work. As a result, bringing out content and doing live streams has brought me closer to new audiences locally, regionally, internationally and now new clients online.
My work is now going well. It took the first half of the year earning no money, adjusting and adapting a new business model. Thankfully, my work experience and skill set extend to broadcasting, programming, curation, music sponsorship, brand development, label management, distribution, talent brokering, events and touring. It's taken a turn and I've also been part of a new community music collective building a couple of new initiatives to help the music industry in the UAE thrive and improve, which is also very exciting.
-How are things in Dubai at the moment, and do you see a light at the end of the tunnel for the music/nightlife scene?
-Times are extremely difficult right now, although I believe that there are new foundations being laid that will make the next 10 years truly amazing and better than ever. We all just need to survive this eye of the storm right now and sadly some people will need to rebuild. It's a horrible truth and it's not about being weak or strong. Everyone has battles, past and present, to deal with.