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UAE band Svengali on opening for Sepultura

The metal band performed at Hard Rock Cafe on Wednesday night

Image Credit: Joseph Celso & Metal East Records

While hundreds of Star Wars fans beamed down to Madinat Jumeirah on Wednesday night to watch the city’s first screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, UAE rockers Svengali were across town at Hard Rock Cafe opening for Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura. For them, it was an equally galactic affair.

“The guys were great, very humble and down-to-earth people. We were lucky enough to hang out with them before and after the show and it was nothing but positive vibes all the way through,” recalled Svengali guitarist, JM Elias.

The locally based group, who dropped their first full-length album Theory of Mind in 2015, are gearing up to release a follow-up album, Sayonara, early next year. They tell Gulf News tabloid! about their pre-show jitters, maturing their sound and barrelling into unexpected success.

Svengali is a young band compared to Sepultura. Do you get nervous when you’re on the bill with a band like that?

It’s a bit of everything really, a lot of mixed feelings; it’s the thrill of meeting your music idols, then it’s the pressure of performing in front of them and being up to the standard, and then there’s trying to win over the crowd who came to see Sepultura and have no idea who Svengali is, and also there’s the general nervousness of playing a gig.

Tell us about your upcoming album. What’s the title and when’s the release date?

The title of the new album is Sayonara, we’re hoping to release it somewhere around February 2018.

What kind of themes do you touch on with this one?

This one is pretty personal to us and portrays what we’ve been through for the past two years from the good times to the bad times and everything in between.

When we spoke about Theory of Mind, you called it a ‘genreless’ album. Is the new album going to hop between genres, as well?

We try not confine ourselves under genres and labels. We play what we like to hear and what we feel and that always portrayed itself in our music. However, we definitely grew musically on this album and it’s definitely more mature than the previous ones, so in a sense it’s a more refined Svengali sound.

What did you learn from the experience of releasing your first full-length album?

We couldn’t believe the response we got. The family completely took that album and ran with it. We were definitely not expecting it to hit the second slot on the Virgin Megastore charts.

People really dug it and that made us want to work 10 times as hard on the new one and make sure it’s the best thing we’ve done to this day.

Will you guys be touring in the lead-up to the album? Or are you focused totally on getting the record done for now?

Touring is definitely on the bill for the coming year. We have so much in store for Sayonara. We’re going in with 110 per cent.


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Svengali is Adnan Mryhij, JM Elias, Fadi Al Shami, Ali Square and Josh Saldahna. Their first album, Theory of Mind, is out now.