Exclusive Interview: Bahrain-based DJ & Producer Julian Mesa

Music is one of the most powerful mediums to express ourselves, to communicate and connect to others, and to convey emotions through sound.

Just recently, we had the chance to talk to DJ and producer, Julian Mesa (@julianmesa_lv) who has made his mark in the music scene in the Kingdom. He is also the co-founder of OFF Global Group, a multifaceted, multimedia company that creates stunning electronic music experiences through event planning and production.

When were you first inspired by music and underground culture?

I was lucky to grow up in a house where my family all appreciated music and was exposed to various kinds of music.

I started as a drummer when I was a kid, and from there my interest in music kept growing and growing, especially when it came to some of the electronic sounds I used to hear from 80’s music — from new wave to synthwave and retro, especially the music by Depeche Mode.

Also, I had a very big influence with house and disco from an early age, and kept my interest in that genre. But it was in 1999, when I was just 7 years old, that I got to hear and see live on TV techno legends like Derrick May, Derrick Carter, Kevin Saunderson, Jeff Mills, and my personal favorite — Richie Hawtin.

His recording from Little Furthur in 1999 is what made me want to dive deep into underground music because it was something completely different than any other music out there. It was unique and knowing that artists back then were even doing this music all on live analog equipment, completely blew my mind! From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to learn more about this music and its history.

What brought you to the music scene in Bahrain?

When I first came to Bahrain, I came to visit my sister who had been living here for a few months already. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to play a couple shows here during my visit, one of them being the NYE party at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain in 2019 right before the pandemic started. During that show, I noticed that there was a good underground scene here, one with a lot of potential to even grow more.

To me, this was very interesting because coming from the U.S. and realistically not knowing much about the music scene in the Middle East, seeing how people loved this music here and were open to new concepts of music, made me realize that maybe something new and fresh can be created here.

Fast forward to February 2020, and I was in a plane on my way here taking on a fresh start. Logically, that time was probably the worst time for the music scene anywhere in the world, but it did give me time to structure how I wanted things to go and meet the right people to make things happen.

I was very lucky to be welcomed by people here in Bahrain, and my music style was as well. I brought the NY flavor of underground mixed with all the other music inspirations I have acquired throughout the years from different places I have visited and lived in.

I am grateful to everyone here in Bahrain for the constant support and inspiring me to be more creative. It’s amazing how everyone here is just constantly challenging each other to be more creative, to keep on pushing forward musically, and that is what has made me believe so much in the music scene here.

Luckily, I have the opportunity to be part of the changes that are happening now within it, introducing new artists and working with already established ones here as well through my platform OFF Global Group (@offglobalgroup) with my team.

My goal is to truly grow the community to where we can all truly work with each other and showcase what Bahrain is made of. At the end of the day, it’s all for the love of the music, that’s why I do what I do along with my team.

What has been your favorite venue/location you’ve played at so far?

This is always a tough question! Each place is so unique and has its own vibe! But I have to say that Keller in Seoul, South Korea was one of the most proper venues being that the sound system, ambiance, people, everything was just perfectly balanced! I had the opportunity of playing at a warehouse event there once which was probably one of the best nights of my life! While living in Korea, I got to express myself in techno like no other place.

I would also have to say Output and Pacha NYC, Heart Nightclub in Miami, and Gong in Qingdao, China were big highlights for me as these are places where the crowd truly connects with the artists.

Most recently, Solymar Bahrain is definitely my top one as I got to play at the opening for Lehar (@leharmusic). This was an opportunity of a lifetime here in Bahrain, and the vibes were just incredible!

Tell us about your creative process – from an idea to your final product perspective.

How to even start this — it’s always a different scenario with me! My creative process always comes from emotion. I am a bit moody when it comes to my creative process. I pay close attention to what I feel and when I feel certain emotions, from there it’s like a lightbulb that goes on in my head, and the creativity starts.

This is the way I approach both music production and DJing. I am a huge believer that music should speak what many times we cannot say, that music should elevate us when we are happy, music should be the complement to the words that the soul wants to say.

I take those emotions, and I try to associate them with different elements that could resonate with them. I grab inspiration by recording random sounds on my phone that I hear when I am out, different melodies from different genres, percussive elements, and much more and then I start to separate everything and see what combination of elements represents what I am feeling, and how could I put it together so it makes sense to others so they may go on the journey with me.

Any upcoming events you’re particularly excited for?

I’m very excited for some events to come in December, especially NYE which more details will come out soon. Also, I’m preparing many great surprises for 2022, which I’ll definitely be sure to keep you guys posted about!

You can check Julian out on social media at @julianmesa_lv.