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Gulf News Tabloid Feature

‘Tis the season of awesome new music collaborations. And these four UAE-based acts have the banging singles to prove it.

Scottish-Canadian group The Boxtones released a rocky ode to Dubai dubbed City of Mirrors ft rapper Two Tones, while teenaged crooner Esther Eden and Universal Music label mate Shaun Warner put out the chill-out party track Here We Go.

We find out all about how the songs — available on iTunes, Anghami and Youtube — came about.

THE BOXTONES are… A theatrical Scottish-Canadian band comprised of Louise Peel on lead vocals, Gary Tierney on lead vocals and guitar, Patrick Thibault on bass, Gill Tierney on drums and Will Janssen on keyboards.

TWO TONE is… A Moroccan hip-hop artist who grew up in the Netherlands, known for songs such as In It For the Love. Fun fact: his real name is Rachid Ben Messaoud. 


What is City of Mirrors about? 

Louise Peel: City of Mirrors is a song written about the Emirate of Dubai. It’s reflective of the sheer adrenaline, nerves and excitement you have when stepping off the plane into a completely new world. It’s pretty much about self-growth and the rewards that come from being brave in your life choices. Dubai has this uniquely futuristic outlook where anything feels possible. It’s reflected in the incredible glass and steel structures all around us, and represented by this huge modernistic metropolis bursting skywards from the ancient sand dunes of the UAE.

How did the collaboration with Two Tone come about? 

Peel: We wanted to add an element we had never tried before, something different, with an edge that would lend itself to the ‘pop’ feel of the song. We had met Two Tone at a load of events in and around Dubai, and naturally when this song was in demo mode, we made the decision to contact him and ask if he would feature on the recording. We didn’t assume that he would, but he came back almost straight away and agreed to come in and lay down some lyrics.

How would you describe the sound? 

Peel: City of Mirrors is a bit of a departure for us. When Gary wrote it, he was listening to a lot of Skrillex, and oddly came across one of their more commercial releases with Justin Bieber. He wasn’t afraid to admit that it influenced the music for the track, and he started experimenting with deep piano sounds and synthesizers, as well as programmed drum beats. When Will [Keys] got hold of the demo, he decided to add an innovative piece of equipment called the Roli Seaboard Grand. This added a strange sound that you hear underneath the track that moves independently from the rhythm and creates a deep texture under the song. He also got the synth sound out of it, which features throughout the recording.  

What’s it like to work with another artist, and split the creative control? 

Peel: Featuring Two Tone on the track has opened up our eyes and minds to experimenting more with our sound. We used to be all about guitar songs, with keyboards supporting our sound. With City of Mirrors, we used synths, programmed beats, new pieces of equipment and a rap. Who better to get involved with when you want a great rap on a pop/rock song than the region’s most successful artist, Two Tone?

Where can people check it out? 

Peel: You can listen to City of Mirrors on Apple Music, get it on iTunes, stream it on Anghami, Spotify and Deezer and over a hundred other digital platforms. It’s also going to feature on HP’s dedicated platform for the new release of their products, which is really exciting too.