Meet Shaun Warner, the UAE-based producer conquering the US charts

The Dubai-based Irish music producer dropped his debut album “Shaun Warner & Friends”. (Supplied)
Updated 15 June 2018

Meet Shaun Warner, the UAE-based producer conquering the US charts

DUBAI: It’s been a good 18 months for Shaun Warner. The Dubai-based Irish music producer dropped his debut album “Shaun Warner & Friends” — which topped several regional iTunes charts — last January; has racked up hundreds of thousands of streams of his music online; and has seen a string of successive singles — starting with “Chasing,” the first from his second album “Stay,” released Friday, June 15 — crack the US Billboard charts (a first for a dance-music artist based in the GCC, he believes) and receive international airplay on radio and television.

“It’s been amazing,” Warner told Arab News. “If you’d told me 18 months ago that I’d have had three or four songs or remixes on the Billboard charts, I’d have laughed at you.”

Like his debut, Warner’s second LP is a set of collaborations with both regional and international artists. The title track features Dubai-based singer-songwriter and producer Hadi Sarieddine, and gets top billing, Warner said, because he enjoyed making it so much.

“I’d never really sat in a room and jammed before,” he told Arab News. “I’d always done my piece (at home), sent it to them to do their piece, and so on, like a see-saw. Whereas with this, I’d go over to his house, maybe take the piano, he’d pick up his guitar… It was my first time feeling like an artist, really. I’d leave the room on a high, like, ‘We created something!’”

The new record is more pop-y than the debut album. That record was written over five years, whereas “Stay” was completed over 12 months and, Warner stressed, “It was a good year. Life’s good. I’m happy.” That’s reflected in the upbeat, radio-friendly vibe.

“In the past, I think I’ve been guilty of trying to be a little bit cool,” Warner said. “Whereas I’m not bothered about that anymore. If I like it, I like it. It was a relief to take that pressure off my shoulders. A good pop song is hard to beat.”

Expectations have been raised considerably for “Stay.” “I set myself three targets for this year back in December: A million streams, a number one album, and make the Billboard charts,” Warner explained.

Six months in, he’s over halfway there on the streams (without even counting YouTube views), cracked the Billboard charts, and you wouldn’t bet against “Stay” hitting number one. Chances are he’s in for another year of writing pop songs.

Dubai handbag brand gets royal approval

Creative director Hanna Ransjo with a HALM bag. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2019

Dubai handbag brand gets royal approval

DUBAI: HALM is the Dubai-based handbag brand whose discreet take on design has caught the eye of several of the region’s tastemakers including Queen Rania of Jordan.

Across fashion, there is a “new luxury” that you can see taking momentum, and nowhere is it more obvious than in the women’s go-to item, the handbag. HALM embodies that emerging trend.

With Swedish creative director Hanna Ransjo, who has lived in the Emirates over 25 years, and British project manager Hannah Louise Brewer, who came from womenswear label Temperley London, the company has gone from strength to strength.

The duo have merged the best of three cultures into their two-year-old brand: Scandinavian minimalism, British pragmatism and Dubai’s love for luxury. Theirs is a “Made in the Middle East” label that embodies global fashion’s move towards blending minimalism and maximalism. 

Their signature bag, Chilluxe, works as a perfect day to night accessory, and was given the ultimate seal of approval when Queen Rania carried it at her first official engagement of 2019. On a visit to the Children’s Museum — she stepped out in a checked buttoned top by A.W.A.K.E, paired with an asymmetric navy skirt — her hand firmly clutched a HALM bag.

“We see this bag as ‘relaxed understated luxe,’ elegant yet chilled, designed in such a way as to gently soften with wear, yet maintain its core signature structure,” said Ransjo. Another edition is set to follow in their next collection.  

Brewer added: “It was a very conscious decision to keep branding on the bag to a minimum — we want the customer to know that they will be buying quality and design, not just a name.” HALM is helping to change the notion that “Made in the Middle East” is about maximal design and shows how the region is embracing the new feel of luxury.