For Moroccan-Dutch DJ and big room dance producer R3hab, 2020 was a period of reflection, during which he realised how much of a lifeline music can be in a time of crisis. “I have got so many messages from people telling me that even when they can’t go out to parties,” he says, “they still need the music to help them have fun at home during the quarantine. Music is a great escape.”
R3hab found the time to release eight singles this year, all collaborations with artists from around the world, including Argentina’s TINI, Sweden’s Clara Mae and Australia’s Timmy Trumpet, while he continued to record his I NEED R3HAB radio show, now at its 414th edition. After two previous albums released in 2017 and 2018 on his CYB3RPVNK label, R3hab is preparing a third, which he believes represents a shift in sound. “I’m very excited for it to be finished,” he says. “It will be something unexpected, I think it is different from what you’re used to from me.”
What three things have most helped you through Coronavirus Lockdown?
“Music and production, friends, and also some time alone to work on my health during this break from travelling.”
What lessons should the industry learn from this crisis?
“For better or worse, we are in this together and we need to help each other. We’re seeing how important dance music is for the community and people.”
What steps need to be taken to address the racism in the dance music scene?
“Racism is absolutely unacceptable. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, good music is good music, and having fun is a universal feeling.”
What industry changes are you personally pushing for to make the dance music scene more inclusive?
“Dance music is international, so we should be collaborating with artists from all over the world — across cultures and backgrounds. In the last year, I have worked with some great people from Argentina to Australia to Ukraine to the UK. I hope to see more artists do the same.”
What’s the greatest dance music track of all time?
“Too hard to choose.”