A few weeks ago, I had no idea who Raneem was. Now I can’t stop listening to him and was excited to sit down with him for an interview to learn more. Raneem is a DJ and producer currently residing in Montreal, Canada. He has released work on some of the hottest labels including Armada Music and Garuda and has opened for guys like Armin van Buuren and Dash Berlin. Recently he released a new single titled “Ready for Change” with Emdee featuring Einat out now on Komodia Records. I was so impressed I reached out to him for an interview. Guys, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Raneem.
You are originally from Lebanon. What is the dance music scene like in Lebanon?
The Lebanese crowd loves to party! There are some really good dance music clubs there booking DJs from around the world every weekend. Dance music is a small niche market. I would say the popular music there is mainly Arabic and pop music. With the rise of EDM, dance music has been played more and more on the airwaves.
What are some of your favorite clubs in the Middle East?
I live in Montreal, so I visit the Middle East only once a year; not very familiar with all the clubs there. But I can tell you that in Lebanon, I’m impressed with clubs überhaus and The Gärten – their bookings are focused more on techno, deep house and progressive house but only quality stuff!
It seems like every DJ has a podcast these days. Tell me more about The Raneem Podcast.
I consider the music I play very diverse, and it is through this diversity that I build a unique set with crossover genres, not only including the latest music, but also recent and classic tunes. The concept is a monthly one hour set with a specific progression that takes you from point A to point Z, no matter what the genre is. After all, I am a DJ before being a music producer, so I respect the art behind it and make sure I provide the fans with a unique selection/mix every month including exclusive stuff from Komodia Records.
You just released a single titled “Ready For Change” with Emdee featuring Einat. I have to admit, I am not familiar with those names. Help me out… Tell me more about them and what it was like working with them on this release.
Emdee is a long time friend and studio partner. We were both born and raised in Tripoli, Lebanon. I moved to Montreal ten years ago, but we still do work together on almost all our projects and share feedback. His style is very diverse and does lots of ghost productions for local artists full-time, but loves dance music and now becoming more active.
Einat is a talented songwriter and vocalist based in Las Vegas whom I was introduced to by my good friends Matt and Jaren Cerf. The vocals were written by both Jaren and Einat last year, and I absolutely loved the top-line when Matt shared it with me. Another collaboration with Einat is coming soon on Komodia Records!
You’ve worked with several record labels over the years. That seems to be a trend in dance music. Why do artists work with so many different labels, and how does the experience differ from one label to the next?
In my case, I think this is very related to the diversity of my music – I like to try something new in every project I work on. The direction of the tunes may not necessarily be in line with only one label sound, so it ends up with different labels.
Obviously, by working with several labels, and after a good phase of trial and error, we as artists get to have a better idea on what music direction we want to focus. Eventually, we hope to end up working exclusively with one label that believes the most in your work and is willing to invest and promote your music.
What is Drop Zone Live?
Drop Zone Live was a seven hour series of live recorded sets at Circus Afterhours. I used to have a residency there quarterly – it was kind of an extended version of the concept of my old radio show Drop Zone Radio, where I showcase the diversity of the music I play in an extended format. Unfortunately, the show got discontinued.
Are you ready for change? By the way… I hate change!
As per George Shaw quote, “Progress is impossible without change (…).” Although change gets us out of our comfort zone, it’s very essential to help us as artists get more creative. As I mentioned earlier, I like to try something new in every project.
You’ve had the chance to play with guys like Armin van Buuren and Markus Schulz. What is like opening up for some of the biggest names in dance music?
Such big acts are popular and attract huge crowds locally and from outside the city, so the feeling of sharing your music with familiar faces as well as new crowds is awesome. Warming up the crowd for such big acts ain’t easy though, after all the people are there for the headliner, and as an opener you gotta set the crowd in the right mood for the next DJ. It is definitely a challenging task, but comes with an incredible adrenaline rush and reward.
Tell me more about Komodia Records.
Let’s start by the definition… Komodia is a God(dess) of happiness, or more like the personification of it, hence the happy logo chubby dude! Komodia Records represents happy music and positive vibes along with some great energy and massive grooves.
I bet #ASOT750 was a thrill for you. Tell me more about that night.
Amazing experience! I flew from Montreal to Toronto to support my good friend Solid Stone at this celebration, and also catch up with the rest of friends like Orjan, Ben, Ruben and more. It was also nice to quickly chat with Armin.
Who are some of your biggest influences in dance music?
It’s a huge list, but I’ll state some popular names in the dance music industry, which many of them got me into dance music – Jean Michel Jarre, Tiësto, Diplo, Eric Prydz, Diplo, Axwell, Zedd, Armin van Buuren, Scooter, Timo Maas, Benny Benassi, Oakenfold and Antoine Clamaran.
You recently tweeted, “Today I think Im developing my own sound, combining the euphoric melodies with nice housy grooves..really reflects me lately.” What do you consider as your sound and how are you changing/evolving over the years?
I find that my the projects I am currently working on have a unique sound that could become my signature sound in the future. It’s a sound I’ve been looking for to create for a while – summerish, euphoric, happy catchy melodies with ear friendly leads/instruments on top of a nice downtempo housy groove. My recent releases really reflect what I’m describing above, and I can’t wait to share the new one with you all! You’ll find out soon!
What’s next for Raneem?
Good timing for this question, because I’m very excited to the next phase of my life as I quit my day job just recently to focus on producing music, managing the label, and starting my own business.
I’m currently very busy in the studio working on many new projects, hoping to get many projects finalized during this year!
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Well first I wanna thank you Ricky for having me, and also want to thank all friends and fans that have been supporting me all these times. I’m looking forward to this year! Fresh music coming soon from myself and Komodia Records. Stay tuned!