There’s something magical about the YouTube music phenomenon that had a firm grip on pop culture in the early to mid- 2000s. Aspiring musicians would gain virality not posting their own work, but by sharing covers of older music or tracks that were popular at the time.
Sometimes it was a punk rock track being converted to a slow, acoustic ballad, and other times it was a pop classic being given a swing makeover. The trend breathed new life into songs and allowed musicians to showcase their talent without needing to get on a reality TV show or sign on with a label.
Arguably one of the most popular and successful artists to have come out of that phase is the trio Boyce Avenue, who are set to perform in Dubai on December 2 at the UAE Golden Year Music Festival, Dubai Festival City.
The group was formed in Florida by Alejandro Luis Manzano and his brothers Daniel Enrique Manzano, Fabian Rafael Manzano in 2004, and they started posting songs on YouTube in 2007. They gained fame for putting their own mellow spin on songs such as ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake, ‘Here Without You’ by 3 Doors Down, ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman (featuring Kina Grannis) and ‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran (featuring Bea Miller). Since then, they’ve started their own record company, been the opening act for One Direction, performed in more than 30 countries and gained more than 5 billion views on their YouTube channel.
Ahead of their Dubai concert, Daniel Manzano told Gulf News in an email interview which song hit it off for them all those years ago, plus what fans here could expect from their upcoming gig.
How does it feel to be returning to Dubai after a while?
It’s been so long since we’ve actually played a live show that we can’t wait to get back on stage. We were last in Dubai in 2016 and it easily became one of our favourite cities, so we are looking forward to being back.
What can fans expect from your show?
The lack of concerts in the past 18 months has really shown us how much we love playing live so we’re really excited to get on stage again, and connect with the fans. We really hope they can sense and feel that excitement and energy.
Your band was initially best known for covers. How did you decide to make covers in the first place?
We just love making music and when we would practice together we’d always play songs of other artists. Then when YouTube came around we thought why not share these on the platform; we had no idea that the videos would do as well as they did. But 14 years later here we are still making covers every month, and I don’t see us stopping any time soon.
How do you pick what songs to cover?
It’s a mixture of seeing what fans are asking for and songs that we just love to listen to. Each decision is different and ultimately it comes down to whether we love the song and if we think that we can put our own spin on it.
Do you remember what it was like when you started gaining fame on YouTube? What were your reactions?
I’m not sure that I can pinpoint a certain moment but our second cover video really took off. It was a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’, and everything really just grew from there. Once that video got thousands of views in the first week we knew we had something special on our hands.
Your band is really popular in Southeast Asia. How did that happen?
Southeast Asia has always been incredibly loyal to us and we love playing live shows there. I think our genre of music, acoustic ballads, really resonates with the fans over there. That’s probably why our music has done well there.
After so many years, where does the inspiration for music come from?
All kinds of places, our family, our friends, our shared experiences, such as travelling the world. Seeing the reaction that we get from our fans, whether that be on social media or live at a concert, is always helps to keep the creativity and passion going.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to the UAE Golden Year Music Festival with Michael Learns to Rock and Boyce Avenue in Dubai start at Dh250 and are available on Platinumlist and Virgin Megastores Tickets.