Featured Artist Interview with DJ Raneem
Raneem is a well established dj and producer who currently residing in Montreal with an impressive portfolio of releases on some of the hottest labels in the industry – Armada, Spinnin, and BYM to name a few. He has shared the decks with and has been supported by world renowned artists such as Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, W&W, Dash Berlin and many more, aiding him in building a loyal local fan-base and respectable international following.
Raneem has collected a series of impressive accolades and accomplishments under his belt including his remix for Joop’s “Choices” and his track “Free Fall”, which were both heavily supported by Armin Van Buuren. 2016 has already proved to be a busy year for Raneem with the release of
his aptly titled single “Ready For Change” in January, while also re-launching his monthly podcast as “The Raneem Podcast” in the same month. February saw “Ready For Change” reach the Beatport top 15 progressive house releases chart, as well as the main release charts.
With everything Reneem has been working on he took some time out to do an interview with us. It was a pleasure to get to know him. Read the full interview below.
You began DJ’ing in 2008. How has your style changed since then or is it the same?
I started DJ’ing professionally around 2008, that’s correct! My sets have always been about creating a trip throughout the set while focusing on the melodies, the groove, and the progression. As music has been evolving over the past 8 years, my sets have become more and more diverse. With so much young talent out there today along with the easy access to the technology and music samples, there’s hunger to renew, innovate, or even change the sounds that we are used to. I’m someone who’s open and READY FOR CHANGE, as that’s what keeps me motivated and my creativity process flowing. I do like to play whatever I think is creative, catchy, different and most importantly something that’s meaningful to me. After all, it’s all about the music.
Who have been your inspirations growing up who also inspire you today?
I grew up in my home country of Lebanon listening to pop music that was being played on the FM radios, both English and Arabic music. In high school, the sounds of Timberland and Jay-Z have had an influence on my music taste. In addition, I used to listen to house music from Antoine Clamaran, Laurent Wolf, Junior Jack, Eric Prydz, and see them perform which motivated me further to become a DJ.
Today I am inspired by every successful producer and DJ living the dream while touring around the world and meeting new people from every corner of planet earth.
Tell us about your upcoming track “Got Me Good” what do you want your fans to take away from
I’m very excited about this new song in collaboration with talented singer Einat. The vocals were written around last year by both Jaren Cerf and Einat, and I fell in love with the top-line. In the studio, chords and melodies just started coming really quickly, which got stuck in my head the next morning – that’s usually a good sign…:) ! Initially, I was taking a darker
musical approach. Although after multiple listens, I found that the vocals and the melodies combined needed a warm vibe instead. While listening to the song, you will immediately feel the love, the hope and positive energy. The tune showcases a short dark side in its second breakdown, representing the down times we all go through in our lives, but at one point the euphoric melodies pick up and reach a climax – love will always win!
You have been supported by many top artists like Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, W&W, Dash Berlin and many more. Who has been the most influential to your career?
So many have influenced my music taste, my sound evolution over the years, and my music directions. Tiesto and Armin van Buuren were the first to inspire me to jump solely into electronic dance music, which I fell in love with via ISOS/MagikMuzik and ASOT compilations, but that also introduced me to the music of other music legends such as A&B, Ferry Corsten, PVD, Oakenfold, and also Robert Miles & Jean-Michel Jarre. Also, Benny Benassi’s fusion of euphoric arps with some phat electro bass-lines in 2004-2005 inspired me to go for a sound that combines both the melody and the groove. Leon Bolier, who is also a good friend, has continuously influenced my sound especially during the early stages of my career. In addition, music from Hans Zimmer, Schiller, and Enigma make me very emotional.
It’s difficult today to list all the names that inspire me as it’s an accumulated result of both past and present sounds, but I see myself today always looking forward to new music from W&W, Bolier, Diplo, Axwell, Zedd, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, A&B, Sander van Doorn, Headhunterz and Prydz, just to name a few.
The relationship with the audience is crucial for a DJ, and yet it seems to be a fragile one. How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
It’s very challenging off course, but as an experienced DJ my focus is on reading the crowd during my set and reacting based on the vibe. In my opinion, any person can DJ today as such skill comes easily and quickly with practice, but not anyone can read the crowd – it’s more like a psychology skill that only comes with the bond you have with the music and the crowd during the night, and it has to be a special one they remember for the rest of their life!
I find that the people appreciate and remember sets when the DJ keeps them curious throughout the night. Also, when their favorite song plays when they don’t expect it, that creates an amazing ambiance. I believe that both the crowd and the DJ work together collectively and progressively to build up the night and reach the level that makes it a memorable one. If you just keep dropping hit after hit, your set is just another top 40 playlist gone with the wind.
What sets you apart from other DJ/Producers out there?
I think what differentiates my sets from others is that my focus is not really on the tracks themselves, but on providing an experience music lovers will remember and relate to through a unique progression during the set. As to the music I produce, I like them all having that signature euphoric / happy melody style on top of dark bass-lines, mainly targeted for peak times during my sets.
What are currently your main challenges as a DJ?
Staying consistent with your sets while being able to adapt to the evolving music trends and still providing an essence or a progression in the mix is definitely one of the most challenging tasks for a DJ in my opinion.
What is one track/song that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it? Any genre.
That’s a tough one..I’ll say Coldplay – Clocks because it’s the first one that popped into my head right now….oh wait, now I’m listening to it too..what a beautiful tune!
In dance music, I must say the Tiesto rework of “Adagio for Strings” is timeless and still sounds so good even when played on big sound systems today.
Tell us about your radio show you’ve re-launched.
What can we expect from your show?
How often will your shows come out?
Where can we listen?
The Raneem Podcast is a monthly one hour podcast where I play a mix of dance music from different and crossover genres with a unique progression, not only including the latest releases, but also recent and classic tunes. I started as a DJ before learning how to produce music, so it is very important for me to respect the art behind DJ’ing and to make sure I provide fans with a unique selection/mix every month including my new music and exclusive stuff from my record label Komodia Records.
The show is available on both Soundcloud and iTunes through the links below –
If you were not a DJ what would you be doing?
I always wanted to be an astrophysicist or an astronaut, but social pressure in my home country drives you towards either a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or a business career. I now hold a bachelor degree in management information system and a master’s degree in marketing research with experience in the corporate world for more than 8 years.
Best advice you have been given and by whom?
My father always says “focus on your own shit”. That definitely has helped me learn from my mistakes and also succeed in everything I’ve done in my life so far.
What is the craziest thing that has happened during a set?
Oh you gotta hear this one.I was once playing at a local club in Montreal, and while I’m alone in the DJ booth, a woman comes up to request a song. She was drunk and barely keeping balance, and she was holding a full Redbull can in her hand and simply waving it over the equipment while I’m transition to a new tune. I then realized that she was actually threatening to pour the drink on the equipment if I didn’t play her request. As I did not want to risk ruining the night and given how NOT sober she was, I finally convinced her that I’m playing the song next. As soon as she moved the drink away from the equipment, my friend finally shows up and I asked him to move her out of the booth to avoid any risks..lol.
What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
meditation, reading, watching tv shows and documentaries
Everyone has one, what is your guiltiest pleasure?
I still enjoy some occasional old school pop music from groups like Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Five, etc as well as songs from Christina Aguilera, J LO, Britney Spears. That’s what I mostly sing in Karaokes, especially if you manage to get me drunk! haha!
What’s on tap next? What are you most excited about for 2016?
Well just recently I quit my day job at a bank to pursue my music career. For the first in my life, I have time to be fully dedicated to producing music and I can’t wait to see how this will go! I already have a few new tunes lined up for the next coming months, and will be working on more new music to be released later this year. Up next is my collaboration “GOT ME GOOD” featuring Einat on the vocals, and then a new remix of mine with a great summerish vibe, all to be released on my label Komodia Records soon.
Please tell everyone where they can follow you.
Do you have any shout-out’s or thank you’s?
First of all, thank you guys and the team at Mix 247 EDM for having me! Keep up all the great work! I’d also like to thank all my fans, friends and family who have supported me all these years. I am looking forward to the coming years and especially 2016 as so much new music is coming! Keep an eye on my social media page and make sure to follow the podcast on my Soundcloud- soundcloud.com/raneem. and subscribe to my mailing newsletter here for exclusive content and personal communication.