Abu Dhabi F1: After UAE gig, UK dance duo Sigma turn attention to Saudi Arabia

The drum and bass group perform tonight at the Amber Lounge, after playing on a luxury yacht last night

L-R Sigala's (L-R)  Cameron Edwards and Joe Lenzie perform in the Amber Lounge yacht party at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 30, 2019. Courtesy: Amber Lounge
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The popularity of EDM music means that DJs have to be versatile.

This includes performing at a large festival, a nightclub and, in the case of the duo Sigma, a glitzy yacht as part of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix – all in the space of a few weeks.

The British group are in the capital headlining the Amber Lounge F1 parties, which found them performing on a luxury yacht on Saturday and tonight at the Yas Links Golf Club.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Sigma's Cameron Edwards says he has been revelling in the F1 party atmosphere.

“Oh it’s been brilliant,” he says. “We played a rather intimate set here in the Amber Lounge yacht and the hospitality has been second to none really. Everyone here at the race is having a great time and we are just glad to be part of it.”

But how does one prepare for such a set?

While a jovial bunch, the Amber Lounge doesn’t have the same crowd the group normally play to in clubs around the world. In such a situation, Edwards says the group goes back to the fundamentals.

“Any good DJ has to first play to the crowd,” he says. “So when it comes to my show last night at the yacht I played a lot of house music, EDM and a general mix really.”

That said, Sigma’s music is accessible enough to be played in broad settings. And one area the group is keen to explore next is Saudi Arabia.

While they have yet to play there, Edwards did say the EDM music industry has been buzzing with the kingdom's burgeoning live music scene. This year alone already saw the like of stars Martin Garrix and Afro Jack perform in Jeddah, while David Guetta took the decks in the capital, Riyadh.

“Obviously with the likes of Garrix and that playing there, it has raised the profile of Saudi Arabia,” he says. “I spoke to somebody in the industry who is involved with events and he said the scene is really opening up and it is getting exciting.”

Their prospective Saudi jaunt will form another milestone for Sigma, who have already broken new ground with a tour of China last month.

Formed in 2006 after Edwards and music partner Joe Lenzie met at Leeds University, Sigma steadily built a following with a series of innovative remixes of tracks by Ellie Goulding, Skepta and Groove Armada. Their big break came after the 2013 single Rude Boy garnered such a buzz that the follow up release, Nobody to Love, reached the top of the UK charts. Since then, the boys have diligently worked away, releasing their 2015 debut album, Life, and a string of consistent singles.

Edwards says the group are readying for a big 2020, which will see the release of their much awaited second album. While he promises further details soon, such as the project’s title, we already know a few of the tunes that will appear in the collection.

One of which will be Dilemma, their drum and bass cover of the 2002 RnB hit by Nelly and Kelly Rowland. Utilising a fresh female vocalist, Sigma sped up the tempo and added clattering rhythms to it.

“The people who are old enough to know the song were like ‘what did you do that for?’” Edwards says with a laugh. “But we like the idea of introducing this song to a new generation of fans who are not familiar with it.”

But what about the reaction from the original artists?

“Well, initially we were going to approach Nelly to see if he would get involved,” Edwards says. “But that would have probably been too much.”

While lamenting the growing irrelevancy of the album format in an EDM industry that favours standalone singles, Edwards promises the new Sigma album will have a lot to offer.

“What I love about albums is that it has songs that I would hear for the first time, so it has that mystery to it,” he says. “And that’s what we will be doing with our album. Half of the songs in there have never been released before. So its gives fans something to look forward to.”

Amber Lounge featuring Sigma on Sunday, December 1, 11pm to 4am; tickets start from Dh3,050; Yas Links Golf Club at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; amber-lounge.com