Ahead of their gig at Marlowe Studio and silent disco DJ set during this year’s City.Sound.Project, we spoke to SHEIKH about what it was like to work with the guy behind some of Jungle’s and Adele’s hits, ‘SHEIKH initiations,’ and how much they love Tay Tay (Taylor Swift, FYI).
Out of curiosity because a bunch of guys from Dubai popped up on Google when I searched you, what made you come up with the name?
Jad: Yeah, funny that. We’re gonna need a new name to come up in the first results.
Vish: Well basically me, Rab and Mazen went to school in a place called Bahrain in the Middle East region and we kind of wanted a name that was short, but also kind of reminded us of home-
Mazen: -easy enough to pronounce.
Vish: Sheikh. I mean, yeah that’s quite easy and something quite mysterious. Sheikh’s are kind of a-
Mazen: -I mean now they’re kind of royalty but historically they’re like a noble person like leaders, wise thinkers and stuff like that.
Vish: I like the name really because of the kind of lifestyle the nowadays Sheikh has. It’s quite mysterious and full of riches and kind of extravagant and I kind of like that which is cool so-
Rab: It’s kind of like Queen as well.
Vish: Yeah it’s kind of like the Arab version of Queen.
You played the Old Blue Last year. Knowing that Shakespeare hung out there (fun fact) and so many acts that have played there have gone onto huge things, how was that?
Vish: Now it’s like really trendy and it’s owned by Vice Magazine and it’s full of hipsters, which is always fun.
Vish: No but it was a really good show, wasn’t it guys?
Jad: Yeah it was good fun. Very Cosy.
Have you done much gigging since forming and when was that?
Jad: Like six months ago.
Rab: We kind of like, jammed together in the past.
Mazen: We did little things but that was the first time we came together and did something from scratch and started crafting songs.
Yeah… So what was it like working with Ian Dowling? (Mixed Catfish and the Bottlemen, Jungle and Bombay Bicycle Club’s biggest singles).
Mazen: Ian was great.
Jad: Yeah, he’s the sweetest guy.
Rab: -and he’s a genius as well.
I mean the single sounds good.
Jad: Ah thank you.
It’s one of my new favourites.
Mazen: The thing is, I mean going into the studio with a producer, you realise that it’s not just about the technical side and you want someone you can work with.
Josh: You want someone on exactly the same wavelength. It was completely a match made in heaven.
Vish: I mean, musically, he is insanely talented and, in terms of sonics and stuff like that, he really knows what sounds good and what won’t fit and he’ll kind of formulate that
Josh: He’s willing to try anything
Vish: Yeah but also, I think the thing that made us like him the most is that, he’s such a personal kind of person.
Rab: He’s like a coach.
Vish: Have you seen that film Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsleigh team? It’s like a 90’s movie but Ian Dowling is like Coach. He’s amazing. I remember I was struggling with some drum parts and he comes in and he’s like “just take five minutes you know, warm your legs up. Get them going.” I was like ‘…okay;’ I got back and just nailed it in one take and I was like ‘how did he make me do that?’ [to Mazen] Same with you as well.
Jad: And he got me to sing which is –hmm- good job [laughs]
I suppose to record that many things with that many people is pretty big.
Vish: Yeah, that’s what we like as well.
Erm, this is a really cringy question but apparently your single (Fonda) was based on themes of escapism and collectivism.
Vish: She’s done her research!
I did. An hour on Google- sorted!
Mazen: Yeah it was. I mean that’s the general feel. Obviously there are more detailed, personal experiences that go with that song but I’d rather not talk about that and let people get own understanding and interpret it. I’m always like ‘I don’t really know what a song is about but that’s okay.’ It’s just kind of about having people around you and getting away.
Sweet. Apparently you’ve had some pretty reckless initiations in your rehearsal space. What was that about?
Vish: I don’t know how much detail we can go into, it’s kind of secret.
Mazen: Well it’s kind of gone from initiations to day-to-day stupid stuff.
Mazen: It’s just continued-
Vish: I don’t know we used to do a few things actually… None of them are like PG.
Jad: Oh no, no we can’t say them.
Vish: There’s so many like, a lot of them involve alcohol and then Chicken Cottage.
Rab: Oh yeah we have a chicken ritual.
Vish: Yeah we can talk about chicken ritual. So after a gig we get really smashed and we order anywhere between the range of 60 to 100 spicy wings and we sit in a circle. Rab takes his pants off and like I’m not joking. He strips down to the boxers and lays across the room like a Jaguar who’s just eaten a massive meal and there’s a box in the middle- I think I have a picture actually- and we just pick from this massive box of chicken.
Visual representation of said chicken ritual- keeping it PG.
Vish: Can we interview you?
Yeah, go on then!
Vish: What’s your name?
Vish: Know that! Did my research. One hour on Google, all it takes. [Laughs] What kind of music do you like?
All sorts of stuff really. What about you’s?
Vish: No, we’re interviewing you.
I can’t put an interview of me on the website… Like, can we switch it back?
Vish: Yeah okay.
So what are all your favourite bands and influence and stuff?
Vish: Okay let’s go in a circle.
Jad: Hard rock, all the kind of classic stuff and all that.
Josh: Very similar. Hard rock, classic rock. Pink Floyd and that.
Vish: Yeah I think we all kind of listen to the same stuff but I like a lot of electronic and hip hop as well so people like Caribou and a lot of rap like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. I like bands that have a mix of electronic and live as well like Jungle and who else? Yeasayer.
Mazen: I like some 80s stuff…
Vish: We all have guilty pleasures as well but we’ll come to that after.
Rab: Yeah like Lou Bega.
Vish: Mambo No. 5 is a solid song.
Mazen: Who else? Is No Doubt a-
Jad: No but like Lenny Kravitz.
Vish: No, I’m talking like Taylor Swift.
Josh: We saw her live.
Josh: There was 300 crying, screaming girls.
Vish: I like Tay Tay as well.
Vish: Who were we listening to this morning as a guilty pleasure? Oh that new David Guetta song. I don’t like any of his music but has one new song which is really, really addictive. That was it: Dangerous.
Jad: No that was because of the video.
Vish: No because I actually really like the bassline as well. Yeah, that’s about it.
Rab: So what are we drinking to? I just want to drink vodka.
Vish: To a good show tonight. Thank you very much!
Interviewed by Shanon Pattenden
Listen to SHEIKH‘s single and follow them on Soundcloud here: