Unfortunately, not all of the SOS gang were able to come for a special trip in London, but that didn’t stop us from speaking to 1/4 SOS member Elias Brown, who was in London for a couple of days to promote their smash hit ‘Abu Dabbin’.
The collective, which was started by deceased Tyler Fey, met during their time at university and formed the group in 2014. Since then they’ve have continued on with the Fey’s vision. SOS consists of T-Jones, Niico, Fresh and Elias Brown. With their musical influences and backgrounds, the group formed their ‘U-Fro’ fusion sound. They’ve been building their name in Dubai, and released their own tracks such as ‘New Chick’ and ‘All Day’ in collaboration with Brainac. After their ‘Abu Dabbin Remix’ with New York’s Red Cafe, Ayo Beatz and Chip, SOS are on the verge to take the world by storm.
Elias reveals in more detail the merging of the group, their personalities and craft. He gives us his observations in regards to the differences between the music cultures of London (UK) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates), with little insight into his own struggles and excitement of adapting to a new life. Plus, he gives his thoughts about the rising Afrobeat scene in the UK and UK music in general.
Interview after the jump.
- What’s the meaning behind the acronym SOS?
S.O.S means ‘secrecy over supremacy’. It means work in silence and let the work speak for itself. Originally it was a movement started by my boy Tyler Frey. Unfortunately, he passed away and we continued to carry on the name. He had a dream about SOS and we kind of taken it to the next stage now…slowly but surely we’re just cracking on.
2. What’s the inspiration behind forming the collective? As group is a four piece collective that was formed in 2014.
Basically, we were all based in Dubai. Well…we were all students in Dubai. T Jones and I have just graduated now.
Tyler Fey had his vision for SOS. It was him and Niico. I was at university and basically jumped on with them and continued after Tyler’s passing. There was event in Dubai called Dubai Street Jam, where they bring artists together and just put on a show for the urban part of Dubai. There was T Jones and Fresh there, who actually go to the same university that I went to. They put on a show and after seeing them was like ‘Yeah, these guys have got it.’ Their show was energetic; they brought a nice vibe. The crowd was jumping, so me and Niico were like ‘We need to speak to these guys.’
We did our performance and got a mad reception. When we pitched our idea to them (T Jones & Tyler), we got a positive response. We brought them into SOS and they joined. We started working on a project and put together 16 songs. We came out with ‘Good Morning Dubai’…
The motivation was just work. Do something that was in Dubai, and make a name for ourselves out there.
3. The Abu Dabbin Remix have reached 1 million views. Any prospects of working with other artists to produce new remixes? If so, who?
Thank you very much. We’ve just been in studio sessions for the past two/three days with Wizzy Wow on a track. We had Michael Surrey and a session with Sovak, who produces for Mo Stack and them lot…we’ve made special stuff
Collab-wise, we’re definitely looking. There’s a few names…we just need to confirm. There’s Dubai artists as well.
4. You and Ayo Beats are UK natives who are now living in Dubai. Red Cafe, on the other hand is American (New York to be precise). Do you think that Americans are becoming openly receptive to Grime/UK Music? Following the British artists that were featured on Drake’s #MoreLife album?
Definitely. They’re taking the sounds. It evident that there’s people out in the States. Even in Dubai which is very Americanised, are starting to pick up on the UK sound — even in the clubs. Drake bringing Giggs through now and Americans are starting to gravitate to him.
5. What’s the music culture like in Dubai?
They’re very receptive. Whenever we do shows the crowd love it. There’s a show that they do once a year called Beats on the Beach, which has twenty to twenty thousand people. We’ve done it for the past two years – 2015 and 2016, and each time the crowd always go mad. Last year, we brought Ayo Beatz out to perform ‘Abu Dabbin’. He’ll also tell you as well – they’re very receptive. Both times we had the crowd chanting ‘S.O.S!’
They’re definitely a good crowd..
6. You describe the collective’s sound as U-Fro Fusion; a mixture of Urban and Afro Music. Explain in more detail as to how you came about naming your sound?
It’s the mix diversity and the cultures of the group. I’m from the UK, but I got a deep reggae/ lovers rock and then Hip Hop and R&B background. You got the Nigerian Jones, who brings the straight Afro-African authentic like style. Then you got the South African brother Niico, he’s got more of the rap side, but he’s versatile with it as he has a singing type of voice whilst Fresh is a straight rapper from Zambia. With them being African, it makes sense of the Afro kind of sound, but the versatility of the sound, we got songs that are straight Hip Hop, song that are Afro – but with a bashment sound to it. The mixes of different voices on the same song brings that urban feel, that afro feel. So it just a big…
That Afro-Swing kind of sound that Kojo Funds & J Hus are doing? Yeah, I love it. I think that’s the wave that people need to catch onto. It’s slowly taking over and er…I want in on this one.
The Afrobeats thing is really popping in Dubai. It’s a serious thing out there with Wizkid and Burna Boy. Them guys are sick. We have a few Afrobeat songs in our archive that are ready to let go. So yeah, I’m definitely feeling the vibe.
8. What has been the excitements and the struggles of leaving the UK and residing in Dubai?
In Dubai, it’s hard because everybody is there for a stop-over. There’s so much red-tape and legislation. In the UK, if you have a stage artist that wants to perform with you, one can easily bring that on as there’s no problem. In Dubai, if you want to bring someone to the stage you’ll need a licence to start performing. Secondly, alcohol can’t be drunk in any premises. In terms of underground where most of music comes from, there isn’t really of such in Dubai and where there is an underground – its illegal. If you get caught, well say goodbye.
In the UK here, we used to have pirate radio…we had loads of platforms that showcased up and coming talent. There’s street life DSB, Howie Flex…there’s a few different platforms it’s just that they’re limited. That’s the only problem when starting on ground, which we were facing. You get an underground of such where you can show all of your music. The way we done it was that we pitched week in and week out to be legible to perform. We started at performing at the TimeOut Magazine Awards and it was like ‘Hmmm, we kind of done this the other way around.’ if that makes sense; doing a host of corporate gigs, Beats on the Beach for like flash entertainment…we opened up for Kevin Hart, Wiz Khalifah…we were doing this from the get go as supposed to building it up and having a solid following and then doing it. We went backwards on ourselves and built a portfolio that we can show people.
10. Now that ‘Abu Dabbin’ is officially out, is there any chance of an album?
We’re slowly getting one. Sadly, I can’t tell you all of the details. Neither date nor time. We’re definitely working towards it, just currently ‘securing the bag’ as my friend Tyrone would say. We trying to get ourselves out there more as of now, and kind of flood before…
We can work towards an album but in the meantime we want to get our faces out there.