Creamfields Abu Dhabi 2017: Hollaphonic are here for the long haul

Ahead of their performance at Creamfields Abu Dhabi, we talk to Olly Wood, of Dubai’s dance-music duo Hollaphonic, about their new music – and how to make money from it

Hollaphonic are made out of vocalist and rapper Olly Wood and DJ and producer Greg Stainer (L-R). They perform at Creamfields Abu Dhabi on Friday.
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It seems that this year has been the busiest yet for Hollaphonic in terms of big gigs and new music. How is the group fairing at the moment?

I think we are maturing. We got to a stage now where people are familiar with us and that has allowed us to focus more on the music. Now, I know that sounds wrong and not very rock 'n' roll, but you need to do that in today’s cut-throat music industry. You have to manage your profile and social media and all that for people to know you. But now that we are at that level we can enjoy making the music, and that has been great.

You recently performed as part of the Abu Dhabi Formula One race-day concert. How was the experience supporting Pink in front of 30,000 people?

That was insane. We are lucky in that we had experience playing similar shows – we know we have a role to play in setting up the tone and mood for the person coming along after you, particularly a legend and at the top of their game. While we were true to ourselves, we also kept it a real open format and we got people of all ages bouncing. We felt that we did our role, then Pink came to us, gave us a hug and said that we killed it. For us, that was enough.

Now you return to du Arena to play as part of Creamfields. How much do you change your approach for such an event?

That is going to be great because we don’t have to worry about anybody else and we can just perform. We are excited about it because we have some huge music to play and we will have all our visuals. We will make use of the big screen behind us, so we should have something visually that represents us, and sonically we will throw caution to the wind. I will be on the mic running around the stage and hammer it for an hour.

Your new single Spaceship adds more a soul and R'n'B vibe to your big bass and brass-heavy sounds. How did that come together?

We were basically taken by Red Bull to London to their studios and we were given all their engineers and expertise to work with. We worked with some cool artists such as [producer] Jodie Abacus, [singer-songwriter] Jessica Agombar and we had Bxrber who sang vocals on the song. We came with a load of beats and no expectations other than be creative. We made Spaceship in that first session. We loved how it wasn't electronic but instead it had a more loving R'n'B, soul and funk element to it. This is the music we grew up with and we just felt that this is what the song deserved.

Hollaphonic have never hidden ambitions of success and that the group is as much of business as a creative outlet. How has the UAE music industry responded to your approach?

We have been lucky in that from early one we got a platform to state what we feel. I mean, The National was the first paper that we spoke to about royalties and publishing and how that was getting ignored here, but now it is improving. I don't want us to be seen as just business people, but we identified that if we wanted to have a long-term future, then we had to come to an understanding of how to make money out of it. I think we added some business acumen, which made people think about us and the industry differently.

What is next?

That will be our last festival show for the year. On December 15, we are launching our own party at Barasti called Hollaphonic and Friends, which will be a crazy pool party to be held every Saturday for about seven months. We are also doing something on a beach for New Year’s Eve here in the UAE that is not announced yet. What I can say is that it will be an unexpected party in a distant emirate.

Hollaphonic will perform at Creamfields Abu Dhabi on Friday. Tickets cost from Dh250 from

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