Nickarth & Monika Ilieva - Co-Founders of Cafe De Anatolia Image Credit: Supplied

With all the changes and disruptions the world has gone through in the past two years, having one constant thing in your life provides a much-needed sense of peace. For many of us, this constant is music.

Music has the capacity to release your mind from the tension and emotional imbalance caused by unfavorable conditions, soothes the soul, and resonates with us as nothing else does. With this in mind, a family from Macedonia launched Cafe De Anatolia – an independent record label that took the world by storm in its four years of existence and now resonates throughout the entire UAE.

What started out as a small record label evolved to become a niched music powerhouse with over 15 YouTube channels, millions of subscribers, and collaborations with huge brands from all over the world. Currently, 350+ exclusive artists are part of the Cafe De Anatolia family, producing over 400 digital products, including singles, albums, EPs, and compilations in just a few short years.

Cafe De Anatolia – bringing oriental sounds to new levels

By now, you’ve probably stumbled upon at least one of their YouTube channels, especially if you’re a fan of electronica, downtempo, organic house, or oriental deep house – the sounds that guide their musical vision.

Out of the 15 YouTube channels they own, eight have received the Silver YouTube Creator Award – a thing none of the co-founders imagined would happen so soon. The brand was founded by Zoran Iliev (aka Billy Esteban), his daughter Monika Ilieva, and his son, Nikola Iliev (aka Nickarth). It was the product of one father-daughter coffee meeting, where Monika launched the proposal to her father. What followed were four years of intensive work that turned Cafe De Anatolia into a powerful name.

Special K live at Crescent Moon Lake, Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

In his own words, Nickarth describes the philosophy behind the brand: “The cause of creating our brand does not depend only on the music we make but the rituals, united cultures, traditions, food and everything connected with the mystic Orient. We encourage generations to love our mother Earth and to greet each other with respect.”

While they host and represent artists from all over the world, their primary focus is on the UAE, where a large part of both their audience and DJs comes from. If you were to find yourself at one of Dubai’s desert festivals, clubs, bars, or luxury venues, there is a very high chance the music you hear comes from Cafe De Anatolia.

Representing a large number of DJs from the UAE, the label is now negotiating and collaborating with restaurants and venues such as Nozomi to host events and performances in these locations. Those who are not able to watch the DJs perform live can always enjoy their performances online, on Cafe De Anatolia’s YouTube channel. Just last year, they launched two sets filmed in Dubai’s deserts, and words don’t begin to describe the atmosphere.

What’s in store for Cafe De Anatolia in the future?

2021 was an exceptional year for Cafe De Anatolia. Rialians On Earth (resident DJ), together with Billy Esteban, launched three other sub-record labels that will be part of the legacy of Cafe De Anatolia. The first one is Buddha Chillout - specialized in meditation music, chillout, and lounge music – which includes the following YouTube channels: Buddha, Buddha Chillout, Chillout Lounge, and Ambience. 8D music is the second record label and will focus on 8D audio, a technique that creates the illusion of a 360 degree sound moving in circles around your head. And last but not least, Lofi Camel, a.k.a Cafe De Anatolia LOFI, showcasing the best lo-fi beats, mixed with oriental & occidental sounds.

During this period of time, co-founders Nickarth and Monika Ilieva also launched their media & news company – Camelmove - a global media and news company focusing on business, lifestyle, entrepreneurship, technology, and music.

Judging by how rapid they have evolved – from a small record label to a multi-million dollar business – it’s safe to assume we will hear a lot more from Cafe De Anatolia in the future, so be sure to check out their projects.