When I think about the American music industry's biggest collaborations, I think of kindred spirits. How else would such feat scale a great magnitude apart from the likemindedness between two individuals? Aerosmith and Run-DMC, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, Queen and David Bowie, Jay-Z and Linkin Park, the list goes on. I walked into a studio Sunday evening having little to no idea how mind-changing the succeeding 94 minutes would be. The plan was to take over 'The Unmuted Show' hosted by Adnan, vocalist of local metalcore band Svengali.
I was greeted with warmth and hospitality — and a clear sense of professionalism. "I'm sorry about the wires everywhere," Adnan said in reference to the noodle-like cables intertwining behind his streaming set-up. After a brief introduction, I quickly (out of excitement) started telling him about my current undertakings. "Oh, I normally try not to talk about any specifics so as not to preempt the show," he interrupted respectfully. From that point on, I knew it was going to be a great night.
The podcast started on a high note. Adnan's interview questions came pouring in one after the other. The conversation took a sudden turn when one of the online messages he read stated "Adnan, a humble guy." I took it as my cue and commenced operation: Take Over. In a reversal of positions, the questions were then geared to knowing more about Adnan, 'Unmuted' and everything he does for the music community. A walk down memory lane so to speak. "'Unmuted' started basically out of lockdown. A lot of the work stopped." From his candid and sincere statements, anyone can sense his impulse to serve others. "Back in the day when I used to vlog about life in general people hit me up asking me about video editing and techniques on social platforms, what aspect ratio should they post on Instagram or anything like that. So, I started thinking I have so many friends in my direct circle or at least acquaintances that know so much more than I do,
and I wish that those same people asking me could ask all these same people the same thing. It was just something like 'Alright' so we jumped on a Zoom call and figure out how to live stream." Adnan initially called it 'The Show.' A few times during a live podcast he has unknowingly muted his mic. JM, the guitarist of Svengali came up with the idea to call it 'Unmuted' because, in contrast, the podcast is about letting people speak. Looking at Unmuted's profile, I got the impression that the show has been going on for a few years now. It has grown big in such a short period. "Not just in numbers, but also in size!" Adnan chuckles. "It's been a hard lockdown, guys." His positive outlook in life exhumes with facing the "all technical" challenges he has encountered in the almost 8 months of doing the podcast. The "curse of the muted mic" has now been lifted.
His standard for excellence is glaring. "Now the mics are audible. But the lighting. I nitpick. It always goes back to that production value. I want to up the value and stray away from the mentality that it's just a local band." I commended him for doing something extraordinary for the music ecosystem. "I got lucky because I [actually] work in production. I have a couple of cameras and mics, but setting it up is still a pain." he chuckles.His eyes gleamed talking about the global tribe. "Back when I was doing regular family vlogs I said 'Listen, out of curiosity, I wanna know where you guys are so put the time you're watching this right now, where you are, and what city.'" He then started getting responses: 2:30 AM in California, Johannesburg, even from Germany. It was primarily on Facebook and now he's trying to convert the masses over to Twitch.
If he ever felt he has accomplished something, he responded with an astounding "Yeah!" "It sounds cheesy as #u@*, every time someone half-way across the world tunes in, every single time something like that happens, it blows my mind. We're talking about the local music scene, and people's perception of the Middle-Eastern music scene changes as we're talking. Now that blows my mind. That's something I couldn't even imagine."
Good music, is good music.
Anyone who has followed him for more than two episodes of the podcast is bound to realize Adnan is not a fan of elitism. "First and foremost, good music is good music. Secondly supporting local art isn't necessarily about, and this is controversial, you liking it or not. Supporting the local scene is about that ecosystem. Buying a local band t-shirt even if you're not necessarily into grimy black metal, and that little contribution goes to them able to rehearse or record, that's part of the bigger thing. I'm into all genres."
Adnan stays positive about what the future holds for the local music scene in Dubai and the rest of the Emirates. His show has changed and will continue to change the mindset and perception of people from around the world. My perception of him remains. He is ahead of the music game.Follow Beau Vallis: