When India, Egypt, Nigeria and Greece come together in song, it is not only a cultural extravaganza, but an exciting musical fiesta!
Enter Carl and the Reda Mafia, Dubai’s Funk Jam band. They consist of Carl Frenais on vocals, Tarek Reda on guitars, Christos Asimakopoulos on bass and Abimbola Durojaiye on the drums. The band creates a smorgasbord of funk, blues rock, and rock n’ roll; many of them old time tunes that transport listeners back to the golden era of music. The group also composed and performed of ‘Fight for your Queen,’ the official song for UN’s women campaign ‘He For She.’ TEMPO caught up with front man Carl Frenias…
TEMPO: How did this come about?
Carl: The band is fairly new; it’s seven months old now. From the age of 13, I was in my uncle’s band performing in weddings and gigs. Gradually I started covering songs and uploading them on You Tube. I moved to Dubai about eight months ago and found this group of talented musicians. We eventually formed a band and started writing together. That’s how it all started!
TEMPO: And the name Carl and The Reda Mafia…?
Carl: The Motown era popularized the usage of ‘and the’ in band names around the period, with artists like ‘Kool and The Gang’,’ Diana Ross and Supremes’ and ‘Martha and the Vandellas.’ Since I wrote all of the songs, I put my name ‘Carl’ in there, and since my guitarist Tarek Reda composed it, Carl and the Reda Mafia was chosen as the band name.
TEMPO: What’s your musical style?
Carl: It’s a combination of rock and roll and funk. We brought back a genre called ‘Funk Jam’ which isn’t very typical now but saw steady growth with the emergence of Motown bands like Jackson 5 belting out combinations of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, disco, funk, bubblegum pop, pop rock and the new Jack swing. We’re reviving this genre with our very own touch using lyrics that appeal to the present generation. I hope people like it!
TEMPO: What’s your inspiration?
Carl: We all come from different backgrounds. I’m from India, Tarek is from Egypt, Chris is from Greece and Abimbola is from Nigeria. We have different inspirations but for Tarek and I, being the writer and composer, our inspirations are common. We consider the Motown to the rock and roll era as our prime influences: from Elvis Presley to the early records of Michael Jackson, as well as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. These singers and bands became our inspiration for us to mold our sounds after.
TEMPO: What are you currently working on?
Carl: We have a record and management deal with White Cube, so our next project is an album! We’ll be lying low in terms of doing a lot of shows, as we will be working in the studio for our album launch which will be held this year.
TEMPO: What do you owe your success to?
Carl: The initial boost to the band came from Al Ghurair, when they held the UAE Band Jam Battle of the bands, which involved participation of about 120 bands. Back then we were just one month old and decided to give it a shot with no idea if we stood a chance. The 120 bands came down to a shortlist 60 bands, and through the selection process we eventually won the competition. The experience of 6000 people watching us perform boosted us as a band and the whole competition and the experience took us to a whole new level.
TEMPO: Tell us about your band’s other achievements?
Carl: Within seven months, we’ve achieved more than we thought we could – starting with the win of UAE Band jam. We then released our first debut single “Fight for your Queen” which became the official song for the UN Women Campaign ‘He For She,’ which spread worldwide and got a lot of views on You Tube. We also performed at various gigs, like the Dubai Jazz Festival, the Abu Dhabi Festival and the Hard Rock Rising. It’s been a great ride so far!
TEMPO: So what are your future plans?
Carl: We’re looking forward to the release of our album. We’re really hoping that the new sound we’re putting out there catches, worldwide. We’ll eventually start with tours and see how people around the globe respond to our music.
TEMPO: Have you named your album yet?
Carl: Not yet, but probably once we start recording, we’ll know what it should be named. It’s like a baby, once you take a look at it, you would know what to name it! (Laughs)
TEMPO: That’s incredible! Any message you’d like to pass on to aspiring artists?
Carl:Put a lot of time into your original material. The songs you leave behind are your signature on the world so make sure every song is your best song.
Catch the tunes of Carl and the Reda Mafia on these social media channels!
By Shabari Shankar