Alan J is one of the leading cover band stars in the Middle East, but now he is he’s stepping into the limelight with his a new pop-reggae track titled ‘You Know.’
The talented Canadian-born, UAE-based musician is one of the most successful cover artists in the region with long-term award-winning residencies at The Hard Rock Cafe, The Music Room as well as Lucky Voice.
We had the honour of chatting to Alan J to chat all things music. Here’s what he had to say…
Tell us a bit about your musical background. Where did it all start?
It all started as an infant. Believe it or not, when I was a baby, my Grandma used to hum tunes to me and I would mimic the melody right back to her! As I grew up, I used to sing really loudly in the shower and that’s where my mom discovered my talent.
I then started singing in my local church choir in Oakville, Ontario Canada called St. Andrew’s Parish. This led me to a private institution called St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, Ontario Canada. My travels have taken me to Canada, USA, Trinidad & Tobago & Italy before getting to high school singing in choirs. I was vocally trained at a young age and loved creating melodies & harmonies.
I have actually been songwriting my whole life. I then went to a regular high school and York University to finish my studies. At this time I created a myspace account and started working on original music. I also used to act and perform in musical theatre locally in Ontario. I was getting fed up of my Canadian lifestyle so I went on facebook and found an opportunity moving to the Middle East and joining my first cover band in Muscat, Oman Rock Bottom Cafe.
This was the beginning of my Cover band career which has not led me to getting over 10 years of cover band experience. My intention was to come to the Middle East and perfect my live performance then focus on my original and NOW IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON THAT!
You’ve just released a track titled, “You Know”. Tell us all about it and what was your inspiration behind the track?
This is my premier release. I have never properly released anything before in my life. Its been long overdue to be honest. I have actually been thinking about this song for a long time. I recorded it two years ago with Mark Zubek in Toronto Canada during Ramadan.
He would be capable of making this song the way I wanted it to sound, I just knew it. The song is actually about my best friend Paula Proksch. I love her very much and she lives in Canada which means its a beautiful long distance friendship. We traveled to Croatia together a few years back and the song means that I love her always and will have her back. No matter how far we are, things will always be alright and we got each other for life. I then turned it into a love song after as I developed it. The song is a feel good track that only emits good and positive energy. I was very happy with the outcome.
What do you enjoy most about being in the music industry and what do you hate most?
The thing I enjoy the most out of working in the music industry is being able to lift someone’s spirits. I have had many people tell me through my performance and music that they were having a horrible day and when they saw me performing on stage or listened to my song it completely forgot how bad their day was going. and uplifted them. That’s why I make music to raise people’s vibrations to a higher positive state.
The thing I hate about the music industry is all of the effort that is needed to become successful. It is also extremely expensive to be working as an independent artist. You really need to have a team of people working for you because you can’t do everything by yourself. The other thing i hate about this industry is the ego many people have. People need to calm down and get over themselves. I don’t take myself so seriously and I don’t have time for people’s insecurities and BS!
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve ever experienced in music?
The most memorable experience I have had was when I got to sing with Toni Braxton on stage at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. I was standing in the front, she saw me and invited me onto the stage and I got to sing with her. It was also one of my favourite songs of hers too (Toni Braxton & Babyface – Hurt You). It was such a beautiful moment.
You’ve performed in many different destinations and venues. What has been your favorite location and destination to perform in?
I would have to say with my cover band Game Over at Lucky Voice. We used to smash the place on our Friday nights. It was a packed house playing my favourite songs and the audience was fully involved and there with me. I would leave the stage drenched in my own sweat. Performing there gave me a natural high.
What are your thoughts on the Dubai music scene, particularly Reggae?
The Dubai music scene is growing. It still has a long way to go but because of the permissions that are needed for performers, there is a massive disconnect in spontaneous creativity. The reggae scene is actually pretty big here when it comes to DJs.
But I can’t stand when the DJ talks over the track and continuously keep rewinding the track. I know it’s a Jamaican thing but It kills the vibe. Just play the song!
When it comes to reggae bands you don’t really see much of that here, unless you go to the special events and they are flown in. So I think there still needs to be some development done in this region for that. People do enjoy reggae here!
You have quite a busy schedule here in Dubai! Do you get any time to unwind – and what do you do to relax?
Yes, sometimes I feel as if I have no life as I’m always working. Saturday is my only full day where I get to unwind. I love Dubai Saturdays. I love going to the deserted beaches and spending time soaking in the sun and waves. Netflix and chilling is also my thing.
I used to be such a party animal but I have completely toned it down and just like spending time with quality people. It’s so important to have good people around you if affects your daily life big time.
Where can our readers catch you performing next?
I will be performing my unreleased singles and the You Know track at Insomnia everyday on the 17th, 18th & 19th of October at the Maydan. It will be around a 20-minute set. I will also be doing the same show in Saudi Arabia in November.
I have some high energy dance tunes coming soon in the next few months as I’ve have teamed up with Nigerian Producer SammYoung and we have made some serious fire when it comes to Dancehall & Afrobeat.
Stay tuned for what comes next 😉