‘WE WON OUR FIRST AWARD DURING OUR FIRST EVER PERFORMANCE AS A BAND.’ – CARL FROM C.N.R MAFIA TALKS TO US ABOUT LIFE IN A BAND

‘WE WON OUR FIRST AWARD DURING OUR FIRST EVER PERFORMANCE AS A BAND.’ – CARL FROM C.N.R MAFIA TALKS TO US ABOUT LIFE IN A BAND
MUSIC
If there’s a band that truly represents the cultural diversity that Dubai is famous for, it has to be Carl & The Reda Mafia. This four-piece band consists of members from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. From having won their first Battle of the Bands back in 2014 to releasing their EP called ‘Stories’ on Universal MENA last year, we chatted with lead singer Carl La’frenai – ahead of the band’s Thursday residency at Stars ’N’ Bars in La Mer.


So, how did an Indian Rock ’n’ Roll singer meet an Egyptian Funk and Blues guitarist?

Well, I was following Tarek’s work on SoundCloud even before I made the move to Dubai. And when I finally did, I knew I really wanted him on board. Making music with Reda comes naturally like drinking water or taking a nap.



What is your most favorite and least favorite part about being on tour?

I think the most favorite part has to be the gig itself. Also, playing to a new audience and watching how they respond to our songs. We always get a kick out of how people interpret our music. The least favorite part, for me, is the lack of time to really explore the cities we’re performing in. We always go for a day or two before flying off to the next city, so we really never get a chance to explore the city and its hidden gems.


Think back to the time you had won your first award – what was that like?

We won our first award during our first ever performance as a band. This was at BandJam – a battle of the bands contest open to all bands in the UAE. We were still writing our songs back then, and we had the opportunity to take part in it. Of course, we weren’t expecting to win. We were only one among 68 other bands from around the country. Though it was the first time we ever performed our songs on stage, we absolutely enjoyed every minute of it, and I guess, that's probably why we won the title. Fast forward to 3 years later – we were the first act to win an award for original music in Dubai. It’s been quite a journey indeed.


How did your gig at Stars ’N' Bars come about?

We’ve performed at Stars ’N' Bars in Abu Dhabi multiple times, and when we found out that they were opening here in Dubai we jumped on it. It’s a proper Rock ’n’ Roll venue where we could even get into a 15-minute blues rock session, and the crowd will still remain hooked. Stars ’N’ Bars just fit everything we were looking for, and it feels extra special since we’re a part of their journey here in Dubai.



Do you remember your first performance ever? How did you prepare for it?

As a band. It was BandJam. As I said, it just felt right. It’s safe to say, the stage is where we belong and that first gig probably was the baptism of fire.


What’s the biggest challenge about being in a band?

Keeping it exciting, I guess. Making music that really excites us. We've had our ups and downs and finding a sound that we all feel right about is hard.


Any local bands you’d love to collaborate with someday?

Not really. But having collaborated with Jay Abo on the Bacardi Project in the past, I would say, Jay again. Totally enjoy his style of music and writing.



What’s your creative process like for writing a song?

Reda. Me. Two guitars. Chinese takeaway.


What advice would you give to new bands out there?

This might sound cliché but really be yourself. Don’t follow the hit makers or what’s in demand. Make music that you love and truly believe in and you'll find results.


What’s next for C.N.R Mafia?

The ultimate album. It’s been 4 years as a band and we've truly only found our sound now. So the next album will be C.N.R Mafia's true sound.


**Edited for clarity**

If you'd like to watch the band perform live, do head over to Stars 'N' Bars at La Mer where they perform every Thursday. Give them a shoutout on their
Facebook and Instagram accounts as well. 

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