Dubai-based artists Francis and Shaun Warner release new records

British singer-songwriter Alex Wesley, aka Francis. (Supplied)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Dubai-based artists Francis and Shaun Warner release new records

  • British singer-songwriter Alex Wesley, aka Francis, has released his debut EP
  • Francis signed to Universal Music MENA

DUBAI: British singer-songwriter Alex Wesley, aka Francis, has released his debut EP “The Long Way Back Around,” having signed to Universal Music MENA.
Wesley began recording the five-track EP almost six years ago. “At the time, I was playing with a different group on what was really a pop record and so the sound of these tracks really came from wanting to let it rip and rock out,” he said in a statement. “A drummer friend and I locked ourselves away in a studio for a week and recorded the basis of the record.” Since then, it’s been a case of finding the time in his busy schedule to actually finish it.

The Dubai-based artist, who plays guitar and keyboards, cites Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead and Coldplay as influences on his work. He claims to have played over 1,000 gigs over the course of his career, performing in the UK, Europe, Africa, America and the Middle East. Francis is a solo project, aided by “an ever-evolving pool of musicians.”
Another Universal MENA artist, UAE-based Irish producer Shaun Warner, has released a new single, “Changeling.” It’s Warner’s first release of 2019, after a hugely successful year that saw his songs breaking into the US Billboard Charts and receiving international airplay.




Shaun Warner. (Supplied)

“Changeling” is an urban-dance crossover track, and a collaboration with up-and-coming UK-based singer-songwriter Reiss Harrison. According to Universal’s press release it “pulls together a range of influences” including “downtempo disco, atmospheric dubstep grooves and modern trap, all beautifully brought together by the classic songwriting.”
It’s the second time Warner has worked with Harrison. Last year, the producer remixed Harrison’s cover of Kings of Leon’s massive hit “Sex on Fire.”
“Changeling,” Warner told Arab News, is “essentially about being yourself and not putting on a fake profile to impress people.”
Warner reached out to Harrison to provide vocals because of how impressed he was with Harrison’s “Sex on Fire” cover.
“I loved his voice, so I reached out to him,” Warner said. “He’s got such a smooth tone.”


Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 25 August 2019
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Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”