We catch up with the DJ who, although he might seem like a new face, has been playing music for over 10 years now.
In Cairo - like everywhere else in the world - everybody wants to be a DJ. Many people are attracted by the glamour, the attention, and the bitches. Others really can't help it and find that playing music for people is the only thing that truly makes them happy – Richard Chalhoub, a.k.a. Richard R, is of the latter. He has been popping up in clubs and bars in and around Cairo for some time now. His music is a mix of house, techno, and electronica, but Richard it seems started DJing way before he got into dance music. His early days saw him playing from CDs, mixing Michael Jackson's Dangerous album with songs from What's Now 2003. We pick his brain to find out his musical preferences, his thoughts on the club scene in Egypt, and how he got started DJing. Tell us a little bit of background info on how you came into music, namely DJing; how did it start?
When I was 11 years old, my cousin was a DJ and I used to watch him playing at my birthdays and think what a cool thing it would be if I could do the same, but felt that it must be a very difficult job. The thought of being a DJ has never left my mind since that time. In 2003, I took the decision to start. Back in the day, it was very hard to download tracks with the terrible dialup connection we had, so I used to buy albums like What’s Now 2003 & Michael Jackson's Dangerous.
When my uncle knew that I wanted be a DJ, he bought me a DJ software called BPM Studio as a gift from the US. I remember I was jumping with happiness with the CD in my hand. I installed the software and started to learn and study every single aspect of it. In 2004, I got my first booking. I prepared my CD case and went to the party, which went really well. In 2005, I played my first New Year's Eve gig in White Zamalek; after that, I started getting more bookings and residencies in bars and clubs like Latex, Mojito, Rive Gauche, and Deals.
You managed to break through and start DJing to a live crowd in a short time, how did it feel the first time you stepped behind the decks of a packed club?
It was a mixed feeling between extreme fear, extreme happiness, and excitement.
If you were granted the choice of attending a party in the past (for example Woodstock or Love Parade, for example), which party would you go to?
I remember my dream was to attend Sensation White.
What's the memorable gig you've played?
A Heineken event by the beach in Stella Di Mare in Sokhna.
What's the best city to go clubbing?
Berlin!In a few words, tell us what music is to you.
Music to me is the only escape from reality; you can call it my drug.
What is your favourite genre?
I accept all the genres but when I want to relax with a glass of wine, I put some on jazz, bossanova, and funk. When it comes to electronic music my favourites are melodic techno, progressive, deep, and electronica.
Name five of your favourite artists.
Michael Jackson, Diana Krall, BB King, Sade, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
If you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?
Michael Jackson's Off The Wall.
Do you see Egypt as a key player in the Middle East house/techno scene? If so, who are our closest contenders? In other words, besides Egypt, who in the Middle East do you see providing the region with a healthy music scene?
Of course Egypt has a key player in the Middle East house/techno scene over the past few years, and Beirut was always providing the region with a healthy music scene. I remember attending Sasha in Beirut for the first time when I was 18 and it was breathtaking.
What would you change about the scene in Egypt?
In my opinion, we need to have proper clubs in Cairo. The scene is getting bigger and bigger every year, the crowd is getting more musically educated and a real club like Fabric in London, Berghain in Berlin, and Amnesia in Ibiza is needed.
What does the future hold for Richard R? What is your next musical move?
In the coming years, I will concentrate more on my production, maybe do some collaborations with my DJ friends.