Discover Tunisia’s Dynamic Underground Scene on FRISKY Loves Tunisia

Lauren Krieger
FRISKY’s distinctive underground global discovery series is back with FRISKY Loves Tunisia

Bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert, Tunisia offers diverse cultural and natural landscapes. The North African country features a mix of Arab and European cultures, where ancient relics combine with modern architecture in beautiful cityscapes, and its unique combination of elements create a living experience unlike any other. Tunisia’s people are renowned for their conviviality and easygoing approach to daily life, with their warmth and the country’s renowned hospitality and cuisine as inviting factors for visitors to come from around the world.

One of the results of this incomparable atmosphere is a thriving underground electronic music scene. As the home of many popular venues hosting local and internationally touring DJs, Tunisia’s influence is continuing to grow every day. The guests DJs featured on FRISKY Loves Tunisia are the ones working hard behind the scenes to bring their own tastes to the forefront, in order to connect all of the people who love it together on the dance floor. In fact, their underground scene is even more popular than the “mainstream”, with the support of the local community dedicated to creating unique events that draw in a musically inclined and fun loving crowd.

The future is definitely bright for Tunisia’s scene, and we expect to be hearing more and more from this country’s home grown DJs and Producers. The FRISKY Loves Tunisia special will give you a taste of what’s to come, featuring seven of Tunisia’s influential DJs for seven hours straight. Tune in on September 1st starting at 12PM EST / 5PM Tunisia [convert timezone] or listen anytime after on-demand with FRISKY Premium.

Khalil Touhri
Samer Soltane
Ben Deeper
Kay Aka

Learn more about Tunisia’s growing underground scene with some of FRISKY Loves Tunisia’s featured DJs:

Photo: Mohamed Ben Zineb

What do you think makes Tunisia a special place for underground electronic music?

Khalil: Many things like the Mediterranean weather, the beauty of the places, & the excitement of the clubbers about this new underground club culture.

JOSS: Tunisia is a touristic country. It’s a beautiful place with a magnificent weather which is making partying and clubbing special.

Samer: From camel rides in the Sahara Desert, soaking your feet in the Mediterranean Sea, visiting film sites where Star Wars took place, to visiting local houses that belong to native Berbers… it’s a land with a sordid history but an extraordinary destination.

Tunisia is a special place for underground electronic music for 2 facts:

*1. Location: As the most northern country in the continent of Africa. It calls both Algeria and Libya neighbors, along with the gorgeous coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.
*2. Population: Tunisia’s population is approximately ten million made up of mostly Arab-Berber. Other minorities include Europeans from France and Italy so we are heterogeneous nation pationnated by electronic music and following daily the world scene of underground electronic music.

Haze-M: Well, let’s say we are kind of unique in north Africa and Arab world, a mixture of cultures, between Europe who is near us, to which we are really attached, but also we have a bit of that Arab culture, so the way we party, is really special for these both sides … we created our own style, and this is something that every DJ notices when he comes here for the first time.

What are your favorite local venues?

Khalil: My favourite underground clubs are 1821 Burning Room Sousse, Terminal2B Tunis, The Treesome Sousse & Le Carpe Diem Tunis.

JOSS: My favorite local venues are Yuka Tunis, Carpe Diem Runis, The Treesome Sousse, 1821 Burning Room Sousse, and Terminal 2B.

Samer: There are many nice local Venues and my favorite ones are Terminal 2B Gammarth, 1821 Burning Room Sousse, Wax Bar Tunis.

Haze-M: I don’t really have favorite places, but there were some few gigs, that I will never forget, for example at Calypso, a legendary club, probably the best in Africa… also playing alongside Solomun at EPHEMERE was one of the gigs that I will never forget.

1821 Burning Room Sousse

What do you enjoy most about your electronic music community?

Khalil: It’s not a single community, there’s multiple communities, but they are basically into Techno & Downtempo. What I enjoy most is that peoples now really got what is the club culture about. They go to parties to enjoy their time, meet other peoples & listen to good music. It wasn’t like that 10-12 years ago, even if there were clubs bringing only good artists like Sasha or Timo Maas, peoples came to get expensive drinks not to listen to music. Now when I see guys & girls dancing beer at hand while a local is spinning, I’m enjoying the difference.

JOSS: Since the past years the community is becoming larger, more active and excited about underground music.

Samer: Music is related to the things of the time and it is illusory, it leads to communion with the ineffable that does not come from time and that is the eternal.

Music is my meditation, a therapy of the soul, it’s the feelings that I share when I act behind 200 to 400 peoples, no words just music just melodies and what I enjoy is the reaction of people regarding good music, it’s all about music.

Haze-M: The love that people have for each other, the fact that we are creating something really new in Tunisia and the Arab world… we’ll see where this movement will lead us in the coming years.

What are the current popular trends? Is underground able to thrive or is it challenged by mainstream?

Khalil: I think that the Downtempo, Ethnic stuff, or whatever samples a traditional Arabic instrument is going strong at the moment because it’s accessible to every ear. About the contrast between mainstream & underground it’s a very relative question because it depends on what do you call underground. I know guys here in Tunis whom according to them, everything that was not made analogue is commercial. Being a regular on Frisky since years, I know for a fact that my underground is yours, so to answer the question, the clubbing industry in Tunisia is run by young promoters, who noticed the potential of the underground music & built a scene basically on it for the last decade. Of course, they run the clubbing social medias in Tunisia, & they’re smart enough to present the underground culture as the new trend, & the commercial as outdated. Peoples will follow the new trend, & their friends & that’s it. If you dare to say that you’re going to a place spinning commercial in front of your friends they’re laugh at you.

JOSS: The current popular trend here in Tunisia is the downtempo, deep house and techno. The mainstream is overwhelmed by the underground scene, a fact that I personally find interesting for a north African country. To give example most of the underground parties are always fully booked, while the mainstream ones are struggling to bring people. Also all the international booking is mainly from the underground scene.

Samer: We all agree that we must take our music and our community to the next level, we have so many good producers that their music did the turn of the world supported by many big names.

We also organizing many big parties inviting names like Tale of us, Solomun, Black Coffee and so many more… we will get on an upper tier, we will make it.

Haze-M: Funny thing is, that we never had that bigroom trend in Tunisia, we switched directly from Trance (old school one) to techno and other underground music… nowadays Micro-house is becoming big in Tunis, played in many secret raves all over the countries.

Photo: Anna Silhava

What is one of your favorite memories of experiencing music in Tunisia?

Khalil: As I’ve been spinning for 10 years now, I’ve had many great moments. I’ll go for a recent one at Terminal2B Tunis when I was closing the night from 3 to 5. When I finished my set, the club was still fully packed with 400 -500 peoples willing for more & didn’t want to leave until security comes in, maybe one of the rarest times the club was fully packed till the end, I’m just glad everyone enjoyed what I play. I also managed to set up my Live Act after all these years, & played it in The Treesome Sousse with my buddy Karben. It’s a unique & magic feeling to make peoples dance on your own stuff, yeah that was special.

JOSS: One of my favorite memories is the moment when I shared decks with Ryan Davis, Animal Picnic & Aaryon during Sounds Of Sahara Festival in the Tunisian Desert (Star Wars site).

Samer: My favorite memories, humm, a lot haha. But I remember Art Department’s gig 7 years ago it was insane and last year I did the warum up for Ame -Kristian Beyer- at HYPE festival, 21th July, in Hammamet.

Haze-M: Well, I have a lot of memories, really a lot… can’t really tell only one. As I told you, probably my favorite memories are those when I played in front of thousands of people, but also there were few small gatherings that I liked a lot.

How would you describe Tunisia’s music scene in three words?

Khalil: Dynamic, Darwinist, Eclectic

JOSS: Dynamic, Evolutive, Active

Samer: Passion, Music and Hope.

Haze-M: “Complicated”, “special” and …. “it’s something to discover”

We are making our own way, no one from the government is helping us, we are experiencing a lot of issues, but the resistance is still alive, and we will continue to fight for a better future for electronic music in this complicated, but beautiful Tunisia.

FRISKY Loves Tunisia airs September 1st starting at 12PM EST / 5PM Tunisia [convert timezone] & you can listen anytime after on-demand with FRISKY Premium & on FRISKY Mobile Apps.

FRISKY Loves Tunisia