D’ARKSY: Evoking Expression and Emotion with Cerebro

R.A. Bakr

Music evokes and expresses emotions. We, the audience, experience these emotions as a form of self-expression. In as such, each music artist creates their sounds from the depths of one’s inner self and the purest way to express. Pushing the creative threshold with new expressive sounds is what D’Arksy does. Developing a sound to call his own, he blurs the lines between the weird, cosmic and melodic realms.

Having studied classical guitar and music theory with exposure to an assorted range of music from Bach to the sounds of today, D’Arksy’s admiration for music started at a young age. In addition, his parents also took both D’Arksy and his brother to concerts. Any of us who have attended concerts know that feeling we get from our first one – experiencing Pink Floyd’s ‘Division Bell’ World Tour left impressions on D’Arksy for a lifetime. “I think as a result of this, my brother and I were always searching new and interesting music”, he tells FRISKY News. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that electronic music entered his life. Attending London rave parties with friends and organizing night club events eventually led way to D’Arksy’s pursuit and passion for ‘deep house’.

He lives by a mantra he acquired from Burning Man –“Too much is rarely enough”. This mantra remains true for D’Arksy: “I think pushing limits in all things is a positive approach to evolving in general”, he told me. His joy of researching and discovering new tracks is something D’Arksy also relishes in by “finding an unusual hook that can be used in different ways”, he shared. In addition, the ability “to raise a mix is a key driver”, as he further explained. This holds steadfast in D’Arksy’s music.

Calling Dubai home, D’Arksy gives FRISKY ‘Cerebro’. It’s a show full of creative musical mindset filled with open-mindedness, expansiveness and exploration. He continues to gives us the very surprises that astonishes him with different tracks, strange samples, organic innate noises that grabs attention. “I like to embrace the weirdness”, he said.

You can listen to D’Arksy’s first Cerebro show on demand and tune in to future shows right here on FRISKY. [Listen Now]

First, I’d like to start out by saying “nice to meet you D’Arksy and welcome to FRISKY”. And I’m excited to be a part of the journey by writing your story for your followers and FRISKY listeners. Tell me about your upcoming show and kindly describe your journey with FRISKY. What are your thoughts about being part of the FRISKY family?

Great to meet you too, excited to be part of FRISKY. It was quite a random occurrence that lead to my new FRISKY residency. During Burning Man last year we were lucky to have Corey and Ryan Negrin from Wild Dark come and play a great set for us at our camp. The usual conversations around music, equipment, sound systems and life ensued. The boys kindly invited me to put together a guest mix for their November episode of ‘Into the Madlands’. It seems that the mix was well received and I was subsequently approached by the FRISKY team to see if I would be interested in a monthly residency. It was obviously an easy yes. It is great to be part of the FRISKY team, for the show I am hoping to put across my interest in the more melodic side of house music, my intention is for people to be able to put on one of my mixes whether they want to dance or chill.

Your deep love for music started at the age of 8 after attending your first concert – Pink Floyd’s Division Bell World Tour. Who else, would you say, has been your musical influence(s) both growing up and currently today? Why?

I am not sure I have enough space to answer that question…. I try to be as open-minded as possible in my approach to discovering music even from an early age. I have always gone through phases of musical interest and hung onto the best tracks for long-term inspiration. My first album I bought was Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ and would listen to bands like NOFX, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Rage Against the Machine, etc. This was followed by a journey into old school hip-hip, The Pharcyde, Gangstarr, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, etc.

I am also very inspired by music from the Caribbean, having grown up in Antigua from the age of 7. Whether reggae, ska, ragga, I think it was this that lead to my interest in jungle and drum and bass as a lot of the old jungle hooks and samples are derived from classic reggae/ragga riddims. These were my first encounters with electronic music that lead me to House. I attended a lot of music festivals during my late teens and early twenties across Europe and the UK, so a lot of the great live acts have been a source of major inspiration. It would be remiss of me not to mention The Chemical Brothers as an important inspiration, they are the group that I have put the most effort into following around as a live act.

As you mention Pink Floyd, I think growing up in a household with rock n roll, blues, and classical music acted as inspiration. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and Cream as a child. Looking more specifically at electronic music, for me, a lot of outstanding and interesting music being produced right now is coming from newer independent labels like Cosmic Awakenings, Talavera Records, and The Magic Movement, to name a few.

I see you’re living in Dubai. I actually used to live in Abu Dhabi when younger. Every time I’ve gone back, seems I can’t keep up with the changes [hahaha]. What prompted you to make the move from the UK to the UAE? How has this transformed you personally and as a music artist? And has this had an influence on your music?

My wife and I moved to Dubai four years ago just after we married. I have my own business that means I travel a lot to Africa and so there was a large element of convenience in the decision. We are lucky that we have a strong burner community here in Dubai. I certainly think that living in the Middle East has affected my style of music and that certainly comes through in the mixes. We have an event called Bedouin Tech here that is now in its 6th year. We have had numerous international artists come and share their music with us so this has been equally good exposure. Dubai has a number of great events that promote the community aspect as well as local deejays and producers that are growing their reputation on the international stage.

You went to your first Burning Man a few years ago. Describe that experience.

I attended Burning Man for the first time in 2013 as part of a camp called Disorient that has been going since 2001. Our first experience was pretty epic, my wife and I actually got engaged at the event that year (pre-planned not a random impulse!!). My wife is also very creative and produces events and festivals so the Burn provides great inspiration for her creatively and for myself musically. Clearly the experience was an important one as we have gone every year since!! Friends and family are made on the playa (desert basin) for life.

How influenced, would you say, that you’ve been by the world of progressive underground sounds?

Very much so. A huge part of my musical development came from various rave scenes in London. During my mid-teens, the excitement of getting into events under age and being blown away by huge sound systems, passionate crowds and pioneering deejays. Whatever the specific genre of electronic music – has been of significant influence. I am interested by music that takes it roots from various genres and expands the sound while also being able to stay outside of commercial canon.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge that you’ve encountered starting out in the electronic music world and when creating music?

I have been quite lucky that my journey into deejaying has been quite an organic one. My exposure has generally been through community style gatherings and word of mouth. I also have my business so I guess time management is a restriction. There is so much great music being produced at the moment that ensuring you can find the best tracks and get to know them well presents a fun challenge. I have immense respect for touring DJs/Producers, who give so much time and dedication presenting their gift. It is a highly competitive industry with crazy hours and travel. It takes huge passion and commitment to make it out there.

I read that you’re revered to as “The Bedroom DJ”. Kindly give me some insight into how you acquired this stage name (that is if it’s okay to call it such). Would you say this is a reflection of your music?

For sure! A lot of the mixes I play now are more downtempo and chilled, after-after-party vibes. The Bedroom DJ alias has a valid background story also. Within my circle it is the name I am referred to more than D’Arksy. I sometimes fight the end of a party to the extent that I have been known to set up my decks at the end of a bed to keep the party going. Sounds creepy I know. But, generally it’s well received.

What type of listeners do you believe you generally appeal to and/or would like to? How important is it for you to have listeners grasp the context within your music? And in what ways do you like to attract a broader audience?

It is obvious to say that my biggest appeal is for lovers of Deep House and also ‘electronica – downtempo’. I like to play uplifting music with natural sounds. I think it can be useful to have some familiarity within your music to create broader appeal, usually through a well-known sample or rework of a classic, whilst still keeping it interesting and unusual. I like to use a fair amount of vocals in my mixes also.


Back in November 2018, you did a guest mix (here on FRISKY) for Wild Dark’s show ‘Into the Madlands’. Kindly share with us, how that project began and what was it like working with them?

The guest mix for ‘Into the Madlands’ came about in a natural manner. A great conversation about musical interests and life in general began when Corey and Ryan played at our camp at Burning Man last year. The conversation resulted in them asking if I would be interested in putting together the November guest mix for the show. I had already listened to a number of the shows and understood the style of the show and what appealed to their listeners. But the boys gave me the freedom to put together a 2hr mix however I wanted, which in hindsight could have been more of a risk than they realized!!

One of the elements I really like about the part of the genre that I am connected to, is that everyone wants to elevate each other and work together as a community to get the music out there. You can see this through the collaborations going on at the moment.

Let’s discuss more about your show Cerebro. How did you come up with the name? Is there a backstory to it?

I was considering a number of names for the show, but Cerebro emerged as the one that made the most sense. I am a bit of a Marvel addict (as are most people) and I found a metaphor in the Cerebro machine that I thought applied to the show. I like the concept that when Dr. Xavier puts on the Cerebro headset he can reach out and interact with all the mutants, similarly when a DJ puts on his headset he subliminally reaches out to his audience, although to be clear I am not implying that my audience are mutants!! I am also looking forward to inviting close friends to put together some guest mixes further down the line.

You already had your show premier that’s been well received. What can we expect of your future shows here on FRISKY? And kindly share, if you would, what is it that you hope FRISKY listeners experience from Cerebro / basically take away after hearing it?

Thank you, that’s kind of you to say. I like for all of my sets to be unique, but with the same positive vibe. I try not to sit within one genre of house within my sets so I can jump around between tribal, afro, spiritual, progressive, etc. I have been strongly influenced by a lot of the producers out of Central and South America and I believe this will come through in my shows.

If you were to give one piece of advice to an up-and-coming DJ and/or producer what would it be? What would you tell your younger self?

Always be learning, there are so many epic DJs and Producers out there that the best way to advance yourself is by surrounding yourself with artists with a higher skill set than you, this is how you keep improving, by picking up new skills and techniques through observation and conversation. It is also always good to put yourself outside of your comfort zone in every facet of life.

I like to ask this from time to time: In one word how would describe your music? And in one word how would you describe yourself?

I would describe the music I play as uplifting and myself as principled.

I’d like to thank you for taking time with me and FRISKY in sharing your thoughts. It’s been fun! Plus it’s been a delight getting to know you and better insight into your musical world. Therefore, before we conclude our interview, do you have any final thoughts?

Thank you for having me. No major final thoughts, I am excited for the upcoming ‘Cerebro’ shows and to be part of the FRISKY family and hope the listeners are able to connect and escape with my sound. I would also like to thank Wild Dark for connecting me to FRISKY and also all the epic producers/labels whose tracks I will be featuring in my shows.