Greg Stainer and Olly Wood share hilarious stories about coming up with their name. The duo also talks about what pushes them as artists and where they want to be further down the line.
March 21, 2013
We had a chat with Dubai's forceful electronic duo, Hollaphonic. The duo comprises of Greg Stainer and Olly Wood. The former is a renowned club and radio DJ who worked on at least 50 remixes and productions with big record labels such as Universal, Hed Kandi, Stealth, Pacha and CR2.
Olly on the other hand is a skillful MC who has warmed up for major global acts such as Ne-Yo, Coldplay and Busta Rhymes.
The twosome is the region's first dance music duo to be signed to EMI Middle East. Hollaphonic are currently topping Virgin Radio Dubai's Hit 10 and iTunes with their first single, "I Don't Want It To End" ft Shaduno released in March 2013.
Throughout the interview it was crystal clear that Greg and Olly are high off life and are hungry for more achievements to the point that they want to be at the studio 24/7.
Why and how did you end up with the name "Hollaphonic"?
Olly: The worst thing to come up with was the name. We made like three singles before coming up the name. It was very subjective and when we asked families and friends, they all had different opinions. Some would say this does not fit your music or this makes you sound too much like a band. We were searching for something that reflects our work. So it happened that we put in one of the tracks we were playing what is called "holophonic sounds" and that inspired the name.
Greg: And with the music we are making, we are trying to get as many different sound frequencies in a track as possible. So "Hollaphonic" suited our musical personalities. We turned it into "Holla" which reflects Olly Wood's personality and MCing, whereas, "Phonic" represents me as it is all about phonographs and music.
What was your second potential name if any?
Olly: There was not an immediate second. There were things involving "Gaslight", "Dessert" and names got as crazy as "Dragon Mart".
Greg: There is one artist that we like who makes electro, his name is Mord Fustang, We like the way he changed around the letters and came up with a name. So at some point we considered "Bratman and Bobbi" but "Hollaphonic" just sounded so right. We could not see anything wrong with it.
Hollaphonic has a hip-hop ring to it, are you going to work on urban sounds?
Olly: We got 3 tracks in the bag.
Greg: We are mixing out with the sound but the style of the music is different. It is not hip-hop per say.
Olly: It is more like there is a hip-hop identity that wraps around our music, for instance, the plug-ins and the build-up to a given song. But there is this one track where I am actually rapping throughout it. Greg produced this dirty bass line that indoctrinated with my drum and bass style.
Greg: We played it to the record label and they found it amazing. We basically combine what we listen to on the radio and in the clubs. We can play electro coats, slow the bpm down and put more rapping on it and it sounds sort of Hip-hopish.
Olly: The outcome is a sound that is commercially viable, taking underground music belonging to a niche market and then transforming it into radio material which always appeals to the masses.
What is the story behind your partnership? What made you feel like this could work?
Greg: We knew each other from the club scene. We both have been in Dubai for a while now. But it was just a "hello" kind of relationship.
Olly: Things really happened through Marko Smoking Groove who does Sandance. I was looking for someone with beats and technical brilliance. Marco simply introduced us and walked off.
Greg: We chatted for an hour or two. Usually in clubs you talk to a lot of people but the second day you're like what why was I even talking to them. But this was different, the next morning we were super-hyped to work together.
You guys are the first dance duo to be signed to a Middle Eastern label, EMI Music Arabia. This is interesting because you are not Arabs yet you're taking over the local scene. How did that come along?
Olly: They heard about us and we heard about them. Emily, the promotional manager at EMI was enthusiastic about us. We were in the scene for the nights she went to and she set a meeting with us with the Sales Marketing person of EMI.
Greg: When we were ready we went and played some of our music and they really loved it. The thing is we've already shared our tunes with other people who have also told EMI to check us out.
Olly: The best thing about the Middle East is that we are in this massive space and there are not enough producers of electro so we stand out. Dubai is also an easy place to get meetings and see labels.
Any deets on your next single?
Greg: At the moment we are trying to decide what should be our next single and EMI love all of the tracks we've shared with them. It's a tough decision but we all agreed that Hollaphonic has got this home-grown element so the next track must represent the fan base here. We have a song with Dia, the Julianna Down vocalist and this could be our next single.
What factors would you say contribute to your local appeal?
Olly: It is proximity. The fact the relationship started here. The music happened here.
Greg: Also with social networking and the fact that we're out MCing or Djing keeps up in the loop and we know what the people like.
If we flash-forward, where would you like to be musically?
Olly: People in Dubai are so used to seeing major international DJs flying over so it is about time that we start building a foundation here. We could have Creamfields festival where all the artists are from here.
Greg: Being local sometimes makes it hard to get financial support, but the fact that we are on the radio will make big entities recognize that they can make money out of us. Hopefully we can pave the way for local talents as more local music will be played on the radio. Dia, for instance is a wicked guy and he deserves more acknowledgment. Maybe one day international names will warm up for local stars.
What pushes you as artists?
Olly: Each other.
Greg: This whole snowboard since getting signed is super-exciting. Hearing our track on the radio and watching our music fly up the i-Tunes charts makes us want to make more music.
Olly: The fans that love the sound also drive you to want work harder. It gets us buzzing at the studio.
When you eventually get involved in awards, will you say that you're representing the Middle East or your home country, the UK?
Olly: We are Middle-East born and bred. We are proud to be part of this cosmopolitan melting pot that Dubai has become.
Greg: Dubai has afforded us the luxury to do what we are doing.
Any plans to go on tour?
Olly: We got live gigs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to start off with. There is a little bit of overseas, I am in Austria and Greg is going to the UK. We want to talk to people and get our name out there!
Greg: We are getting a lot of offers, but we don't want to be all over the place. We want to be part of big shows or support big acts and eventually have our own show.
Thank you, we loved having you here.