-The Esquire 100 - Hollaphonic
Dubai-based producers Greg Stainer and Olly Wood (right) were the first dance music duo from the Middle East to be signed to a major record label.
Six years on, and several number ones to their name, Wood reveals the most important lesson they’ve learned along the way:
The hunger to succeed is a strange feeling – I would describe it as a constant battle between ambition and anxiety. On the six-year journey that Hollaphonic has been on, we have learnt more about ourselves and those around us than at any other time in our lives.
We’d never really imagined the success that we’ve had, and there were times we were doing things because it was what we should, as opposed to what we felt was right for us. It is only recently that we realised the best thing to do was to trust ourselves.
Signing on to a major record label is exciting, but all of a sudden you are bombarded with other people’s opinions on what your music should be and being pushed to build “brand Hollaphonic”. While management kept asking “where’s the hook?” to help snare a mass audience, some of our music peers were saying that we’d gone “too commercial”. There was a constant confusion about what (and who) we were, in both the boardroom and the studio.
After the shine had worn off, we realised that it was our individuality that made us different. By blocking out everyone else’s opinions and learning to listen to ourselves, we were able to start creating the music that we wanted to. Those tracks that have gone on to be massive hits in the Gulf, as well as in places such as Thailand and Japan.
We were able to use the music as a way to express ourselves, rather than making tracks to tick boxes, and people started to relate to that. If music is an expression of its creator, then we’ve finally found a way to express ourselves, simply by being ourselves.