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It’s time for the sixth annual Chill Out Festival, taking place at Media City Amphitheatre this Friday and Saturday.

By Adam Zacharias

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Published: Wed 18 Apr 2012, 1:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:54 PM

Adam Zacharias chats with two of the headline acts and previews what else is in store for concert-goers


Bursting onto the U.K scene in 2006 with the quadruple-platinum album Inside In/Inside Out, The Kooks became a household name thanks to melodic indie-pop gems from Naïve to Ooh La. Guitarist Hugh Harris (pictured far left) talks to us ahead of the band’s “hit-led” headline set on Saturday.

We hear you’re going to be in Dubai a few days longer than your three bandmates. How come?

I’m coming early to enjoy the sunshine. My dad lives in Dubai Marina, he’s been there for a year or so working in the oil industry. I’ll get to see him, which is really nice, and he’s pretty pumped that we’re coming to play. We had Christmas there last year, which was a bit strange but quite fun. I’m looking forward to it.

Will you be showing the others the sights?

They’re coming out on Friday, so I’ll show them around and take them shopping. We’ll have a lot of fun.

You’re still only 24 years old, yet you’ve had three UK top 10 albums in the last six years. Is it strange being something of a veteran at your age?

It is when you put it that way! We’ve been through a lot from a very young age. I was 16 when we went on our first tour, which was the most exciting thing in the world at the time. Having that success at a young age was both fantastic and a bit mad. A couple of us managed to scrape through the other side! It’s intriguing to see what the future holds, we’ve still got a lot to achieve as a band.

Is life still as crazy for The Kooks as it was in the beginning?

Nowhere near as crazy. I was 18 and living in Brighton when our album came out, it was completely insane and we hit it pretty hard. We’ve lost band members due to that – things often imploded and we had to have serious chats. That’s just what anyone would do given the same position, but the people who last are those who have a certain respect for a level of consciousness and sensibility. That comes from growing up and learning lessons, and we’ve certainly learnt enough of those in the last eight years.

Do you want to always remain in music or would you like to broaden your interests in future?

I’d like to go to university, I never got the chance to do that. I want to study history and do the gap year thing – but I don’t know how well I’d survive with just a backpack! My friend’s in Vietnam at the minute, I might go and see him.

Were you a history buff in school?

I certainly liked it in school, but I’ve developed more of an interest now. Information and knowledge isn’t really necessary to have in a band, you can kind of let your mind rot with playing music and going out too much. It would be nice to study something academic which fills you up a bit and makes you feel more of a person. It’s just finding the time though, because you’ve got to sit on a bus doing homework while everyone’s out having fun. Maybe I’ll just wait to have a year off.

Are you generally productive on the road?

I read quite a bit, that’s really the only study you can do, otherwise it’s mainly just playing music with friends. We’ve definitely kept it that way, it’s still friendly and we sometimes have a studio on the bus. It’s good to keep writing, you shouldn’t let touring clog up that creative aspect.

When Inside In/Inside Out came out in 2006, the UK alternative music scene was exploding with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. Now, it’s a lot quieter – are you hoping it makes a comeback?

When we came out, we used to resist the terminology of rock and roll. We saw ourselves as a pop band; we don’t just listen to Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, we’re influenced by a lot of electronic music and we have our ears open to contemporary stuff, even though a lot of it is pretty awful if you ask me. U.K. R&B is like a D-rate copy of American chart music, and it’s embarrassing. I’m not too hellbent on rock music making a comeback, just the craft of good song-smithery and interesting pop artists like David Bowie and Gary Numan. Extraordinary people these days get overlooked for something that’s more marketable. We’re in a bit of a dark age at the minute – people just want cash because the labels have got none. They’re just trying to make a quick buck, but hopefully that will change when the business finds its feet again.

Looking at your Twitter feed, you’re something of a fan of the site. Do you use it as a promotional tool or is it just something to do when you’re bored?

Both really – we got told to open accounts, and one tweet leads to another. It’s a pretty self-indulgent medium, but I guess it’s one that people respond to. Our fans respond well to it and it’s nice to have that interaction with them. Being on Twitter is enjoyable to an extent, but I kind of bore myself with it sometimes and embarrass myself.

Earlier in your career, The Kooks became a little infamous for starting feuds with other acts. Are you a little calmer these days?

We were never hellbent on rivalry with other bands. It was just a few things we said and a few things other people said…these things get swollen in the media. Really everything’s fine, it always has been to an extent. I just can’t be bothered to be in a feed with another band, it’s completely pointless and a total waste of time.

Instead we see you like to tweet about watching Antiques Roadshow…?

Exactly! That’s my favourite programme!

You’re supporting Noel Gallagher at Wembley in September. How do you feel about that?

We’ve never played with him, and it’s an absolute pleasure to do so. We’re only doing one show in England this year, and for that to be it is pretty cool. He’s been a supporter of ours, I quite like his new band as well and I’m also more of a Noel supporter (in his feud against younger brother and ex-Oasis bandmate Liam). I feel he’s more the sensible one, and he’s written some of my favourite songs ever.


In a genre obsessed with machismo and materialism, hip-hop trio De La Soul have always trod a quirkier path. From their seminal 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising to collaborations with Gorillaz (Feel Good Inc, Superfast Jellyfish), the New Yorkers still pack a punch in 2012. We had a quick one-to-one with Dave (pictured far left) from Friday night’s headline group.

What keeps you all coming back to the UAE to perform?

The fans!

Have your musical tastes become broader or narrower with age?

Definitely broader. I enjoy some good classical music these days.

The Rolling Stones are still going strong after 50 years together, while BB King continues to perform at 86. Do you think you’ll be rapping into old age?

I’ll probably be retired, but hip-hop will always be a part of my life. I’ll probably be executive producing new generations instead.

Do you ever find yourselves in a creative trough, and if so how do you get out of it?

I always let the beat inspire me. If the beat’s hot, it works.

Does being in De La Soul ever gain you any credit with your kids?

Not as much as I think it should!

How do you decide who you collaborate with, and is there anyone who would be strictly off-limits if they asked?

It’s really about what happens in the moment. If something sounds good and inspires me, I will work on it. There is no one that comes to mind that I wouldn’t work with if it was inspirational, though it’s needless to say there are quite a few artists that I never find inspirational.

What was your reaction to Damon Albarn’s recent comments about the likely break-up of Gorillaz?

Things happen, that’s life. We will always be fond of the Gorillaz and our involvement with them.

Best of the Rest

Rachid Taha (Friday): This veteran French-Algerian performer is known for both his musical diversity and social activism. His most recent album Bonjour saw the 53-year-old adopt a more commercial sound, and he also received a BBC Award for World Music several years ago from Joe Strummer.

Tony Allen (Saturday): The Nigerian-born 71-year-old was a longtime drummer for Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and joined supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen in 2006 alongside Blur’s Damon Albarn, The Clash’s Paul Simonon and The Verve’s Simon Tong. He was once famously labelled by Brian Eno as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived” and is lining up a new supergroup with Albarn, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Erykah Badu.

Magnetic Man (Friday): The British dubstep trio hit UK number five in 2010 with their self-titled debut album, which contained hit collaborations with Katy B (Perfect Stranger), John Legend (Getting Nowhere) and Angela Hunte (I Need Air). They will be playing a post-show set at Trology nightclub on Friday night with Protoje and Moodymann.

Shaa’ir + Func (Saturday): This Mumbai indie duo have gained critical acclaim for their three records New Day: The Love Album, Light Tribe and Mantis. They formed in 2005 after Randolph Correia and Dhobi Ghat actress Monica Dogra met at a party at 5am.

Event Details

  • What: Chill Out Festival (in association with Société Perrier)
  • Where: Dubai Media City Amphitheatre
  • Date: Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21
  • Cost: Single day pass Dhs200 in advance, Dhs250 at the door. Two-day pass Dhs350, children under 12 enter free
  • Tickets: Available from Virgin Megastores, Zoom, EPPCO and ENOC petrol stations, Madinat Jumeirah box office, What’s On box office and online at www.timeouttickets.com and www.platinumlist.ae
  • For more info: Visit www.chilloutfestivaldubai.com or call 050 725 8277

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