Wednesday May 22nd, 2024
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Lebanon's Underground Brand Somewhere... Launches Dance Music Label

We caught up with the mastermind behind the Beirut-based party brand, Ronin, to uncover the reason for launching the label and how it will contribute to evolving Beirut’s dance music scene.

Riham Issa

 Lebanon's Underground Brand Somewhere... Launches Dance Music Label

With their diverse parties and club residences that capture the raw energy of a 90s rave since its inception in the early 2000s, Lebanese collective Somewhere… has built up a reputation as one of the leading party brands in the region’s electronic and house scene. Constantly growing within and beyond its devoted community, Somewhere…’s nomadic musical projects have traversed the globe, leaving an indelible mark on party scenes in Vienne, Paris, Dubai, Riyadh and more.

Fueled by an unwavering commitment to unite like-minded souls in search of the funkiest of underground grooves, the Beirut-based collective has recently launched its own dance music label. An extension of their iconic parties, the label serves as a launchpad for emerging artists within the MENA region’s electronic dance scene, as well as an intermediary conductor connecting artists with global audiences.

Earlier this month, the Beirut-based collective unveiled their debut release on the label, a four-track Vinyl EP by Berlin-based maestro Otis titled ‘Stimulation of a Thinking Computer’. Perfectly encapsulating the collective’s distinctive sonic identity, the record - available to purchase on Bandcamp - features commanding, hard stripped-back grooves on the A side, unfolding into rhythmic, and atmospheric soundscapes, embellished with ethereal pads on the flipside.

In a virtual interview, SceneNoise caught up with the mastermind behind Somewhere…, Ronin, to uncover the idea behind launching the label, and how it will contribute to the evolution of Beirut’s underground electronic scene…

What inspired your decision to launch a label under the established party brand of somewhere…?

The idea of launching a label for underground music has long been our all-time passion project. It just came naturally as an evolution to our parties, as a way of documenting our sonic identity as it evolves. With the dancefloor being the main driving force that inspires our sounds, we wanted to create a label that serves as an extension of our parties, providing local, regional and international talents within the dance music scene with a space to express themselves one way or another.

How does the launch of the label align with the overarching mission and vision of Somewhere…as a party collective?

We have been hosting parties across the globe for almost 20 years now, garnering a solid loyal following and crowds in the nightlife scene in cities like Vienna, Riyadh and Dubai. As part of our commitment to establish a nomadic meeting point for like-minded music lovers looking for curated underground grooves, both on and off the dancefloor, the label was a natural next step for us to continue our mission.

Can you elaborate on the significance of choosing Otis, a Berlin-based artist, to kick off the label’s debut release?

Since our inception, we have had the opportunity to invite a slew of renowned regional and international artists to come play for us and host our parties in various prestigious venues across the globe. We wanted the label to channel the same energy of our parties. So, it was very critical for our first release on the label to mirror the sonic identity of our parties.

Otis was able to bring forward the right emotions and musical diversity of our parties through his four-track vinyl EP, ‘Stimulation of a Thinking Computer’. It is hard, pumping, and dancy, but also subtle, spacey and melodic in a way that resonates well with where we are about to head next. 

For our upcoming releases, we’re now connecting with various local, regional and international artists, whose sounds resonate with Somewhere…’s diverse sonic identity. 

In what ways do you envision this label contributing to the evolution and expansion of Beirut’s underground electronic music scene?

Despite all the challenges the city has been facing, Beirut, for us, has always remained the pumping heart of the region’s nightlife scene, from its famous club nights to its secret underground parties. We always try to encapsulate the city’s vibrant party spirit and diverse sounds through our parties.

With the label, we aim to serve as an intermediary conductor, connecting regional, local and international artists with both relevant and new audiences, through our community and parties. By fostering an environment that not only focuses on nurturing local and regional talents but also introduces global artists to the regional audiences, we aim to enrich Beirut’s cultural tapestry and establish it as a global nexus in the electronic music scene. 

With that, the label will also play a pivotal role in extending the reach of Beirut’s underground electronic scene, as well as the region’s at large, to global audiences.

Could you share the strategies for promoting and disturbing the vinyl EP, considering the global reach of Somewhere…’s events? 

Besides working closely with famous regional record stores, we have also teamed up with Subwax Distribution to ensure our vinyl EPs can reach record stores worldwide. The record will also be available for purchase at all of our parties, to offer all attendees an opportunity to take home a ‘piece’ of the experience.  So, whether you are at one of our parties or randomly flipping through records in your neighbourhood’s record store, you’ll find us.

How do you foresee the label’s presence in international cities, influencing its growth and reach? 

By showcasing our local artists on the global stage and inviting foreign artists to perform at our parties in regional cities, the label will help create a global network, connecting diverse music communities both in the region and across the globe.

Are there any particular themes or narratives that the label aims to explore through its releases?

The label will serve to mirror the dynamic diversity of Somewhere…’s parties, where all things house, minimal, electro, and breaks intertwine freely. We also aim to explore different sonic territories, evoking emotions and energy that can resonate with different audiences and dancefloors across the globe. 

Can you discuss any collaborative efforts or partnerships that played a role in bringing this label to fruition?

The launch of this label has come to be through a collaborative process through key partnerships with Freehand Worldwide, Subwax, Hot Axis, and ANDCO. 

Freehand Worldwide has played a key role in the setup and seamless operation of the label, handling the administrative framework required to get the label running smoothly, from supporting in A&R to coordinating between physical and digital distribution channels, to overseeing the intricacies of vinyl pressing along with liaising with artists and PR agencies.

Subwax, as I mentioned before, was equally vital in taking care of distributing the vinyl EP worldwide. With their extensive network and reputation, Subwax has ensured that our releases will find their way into the hands of listeners worldwide, facilitating a wider reach that will ultimately impact our music’s influence.Meanwhile, Hot Axis’ team has been the centre of Somewhere…parties since the very beginning. From management, booking, and logistics to operations, productions and CRM, they’ve helped bring the brand to life and manage the crazy parties calendar in different cities.

Last but not least, ANDCO, is the collective behind the branding, design and marketing of our parties, and now the label.

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