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.

A starry night at the 40th Cairo Film Festival

Updated 5 min 56 sec ago

A starry night at the 40th Cairo Film Festival

CAIRO: The stars of Arab cinema walked the red carpet at the opening of the 40th Cairo International Film Festival on Tuesday night and there were plenty of glittering gowns on show.

Orchestrated by Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, who at just 43-years-old is said to be the youngest president the festival has seen, the Cairo Opera House-based event was attended by stars from across the Middle East and North Africa.

Set to run from Nov. 20-29, the festival opened with the regional premiere of Peter Farrelly-directed comedy drama “Green Book,” starring US actors Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.

The festival will include 16 world premieres and screenings of 160 films from 60 countries.

Meanwhile, on the red carpet, Egyptian actress Nelly Karim and Tunisian star Dorra Zarrouk looked glamorous as they posed for photographs on Tuesday night.

Karim wore a black leather dress by designer Mohanad Kojak, while Zarrouk wowed onlookers with an opulent design by Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad. The black ballgown was embroidered with golden flowers and leaves and also featured a daring high split.

Egyptian actress Nelly Karim wore a leather dress on stage. (AFP)

Seven Egyptian films will be screened during the festival, including “Leil Khargi” (External Night) — a film that will compete for the coveted Golden Pyramid Award.

The other Egyptian films on the itinerary are “Garemet Al-Immobilia, “Ward Masmom” (Poisonous Roses), “Kilo 64” and “La Ahad Honak” (The Giraffe).

Other films set to be screened at the festival include “Heaven Without People,” a provocative film that is the debut feature-length work of director Lucien Bourjeily; “Laaziza,” in which Moroccan writer-director Mohcine Besri tells the moving story of Laaziza, a troubled mother who is faced with the difficulty of welcoming back a man who once rejected her and “Fatwa,” which explores radicalization and its horrors.

Egyptian actress Sherine Reda took to the stage. (AFP)

The festival’s jury committee is headed by prominent Danish film director Bille August, who has received the Cannes Film Festival’s Palm d’Or award twice.

The festival has also added a People’s Choice Award for the first time in its history, with the prize money amounting to $20,000 for the film that gets a majority vote from the audience. A new award entitled “Best Arab Film,” with prize money of $15,000, has been added to this year’s festival as well, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
Signs of a revamp in the festival include the attendance of executives from such international powerhouses as HBO, Netflix, France’s Gaumont, Participant Media and Middle Eastern players OSN, Front Row Distribution, New Century Productions and Aroma Studios.