Why has FIVE set up a music studio in Dubai?

MusicTech visits the Middle East’s highest-spec music studio, which is inside a hotel’s nightclub and used to be an indoor swimming pool.

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The music studio inside FIVE Palm Jumeirah

The music studio inside FIVE Palm Jumeirah

Upon stepping inside the music studio at lavish Dubai hotel FIVE Palm Jumeirah — which also has its own private clubs, restaurants and beach — the music from outside the room disappears. Thanks to impressive soundproofing engineering, it’s impossible to hear the pumping house and tech beats coming from DJ Mag’s number one Middle Eastern club, The Penthouse, whose decks are just yards away.

“Acoustically, it’s at the highest technical quality imaginable,” says FIVE Music Studio’s senior sound engineer, Vincent Bruijsten, revealing that the room’s two doors were filled with sand to block out exterior noise. “The room is basically maths and science to get the best experience,” he adds. Even when cranked up to the highest level, the sound of Barefoot’s Masterstack 12 speakers, Neumann KH80 monitors and Neumann KH750 subwoofer remains balanced and accurate.

DJ decks in FIVE’s Dubai studio
DJ decks in FIVE’s Dubai studio in Dubai

However, impeccable sound is just one aspect of this very flashy and lavish gear-laden room.

A Mac Studio sits at the centre, while a range of essential guitars — including a Gibson Les Paul, Fender Telecaster, Fender Precision Bass and a Yamaha APX 1000 Acoustic — are propped up against the walls. On the desk, there are Neumann U47s and Shure SM7Bs microphones and a Moog Sub 37. On the outboard side, there’s a Universal Apollo X8, Dangerous Monitor ST, AMS Neve 1073SPX and Tube-Tech MEC1A. And, trust us, there are so many plugins that it’s not even worth getting into.

The green room, meanwhile, is perfect for testing out new tunes thanks to its DJ decks (a Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2 mixer and two Pioneer DJ CDJ3000s).

FIVE’s studio in Dubai
FIVE’s studio in Dubai

What’s most surprising, though, is that the studio room was formerly an indoor swimming pool.

So why did FIVE — a hotel chain that recently opened in Zurich and that recently took over legendary Ibiza-born Pacha Group — want to create a music studio in the first place? And what did the team hope the transformation would bring to the industry?

“It was originally a passion project led by Aloki Batra, chief executive officer of FIVE Hospitality and The Pacha Group,” says FIVE’s Music Manager Katie Maria French. “I remember it being a complete building site. There was dust everywhere, but we made it in the end.”

Since opening in 2023, the high-spec studio has proved popular with the international music industry. Artists like Rudimental and CamelPhat have created music there (the latter reportedly called the studio “pure luxury”), alongside internationally renowned DJs including Robin Schulz and Lost Frequencies. FIVE also hosts an annual writing camp and has welcomed the likes of Lewis Thompson, Bully Songs and Matt James. “Up until recently, it’s mainly been DJs and producers, but now we’re shifting more towards pop artists and singers too,” French explains.

FIVE’s studio in Dubai
FIVE’s studio in Dubai

The studio is geared towards EDM, as per FIVE’s joint venture with Warner Music Group — a partnership that FIVE says “made perfect sense”. But FIVE assures that no genre is off-limits. Bollywood artist Nora Fatehi recently visited with a team of producers, and FIVE hosted a writers’ camp for American R&B artist Trey Songz, who tested a song during a performance at The Penthouse club just hours after writing it in the studio. “Artists can come in and make magic with our studio engineer and then they have the opportunity to play what they’ve created to an audience here,” French says of the studio’s offering.

Having spent a productive few days in FIVE’s studio making tunes ahead of his late-night live set at The Penthouse, British popstar John Newman describes the studio-within-a-hotel concept as “genius…Time just disappeared.” As an artist who travels frequently and works in a range of music studios, the Rudimental-collaborating artist says he likes the simplicity of FIVE studio and thinks it could be replicated elsewhere.

“Often, when you walk into studios, it’s quite overwhelming,” the ‘Feel the Love’ singer says, citing Westlake’s Studio A — aka the Michael Jackson room — in Los Angeles as one example. While Newman has worked in massive rooms, he’s also used to working in his bedroom at home. He also had his own studio for a time, which he spent a fortune on outboard gear for. However, more recently, he has “stripped everything down to go into the box and just enjoy it.”

Mac Studio and guitars in FIVE’s Dubai studio

Mac Studio and guitars in FIVE’s Dubai studioAs he believes more studios are needed in general, Newman thinks “it’s amazing to bring them into new markets, new places and give people more opportunities”. He’s confident that FIVE’s songwriting camps are enabling that: “to have these places that can find and develop these people, but not just become hangout spots for writing three songs a day, is so key at this moment in time.”

And that’s what FIVE hopes to do. Alongside hosting huge names, it’s keen to support new and emerging artists. “We’re always open to people who reach out to us,” French says, adding that the FIVE team is constantly watching trends in music. “We want to sign the next big thing! In terms of how big and far we’ll go, who knows?” French teases, before describing the studio as “a “shake-up in the industry.”

She adds: “We like to create noise and have a presence. We’re a disruptor in the market, with the FIVE Music Studio being the first and only studio in a nightclub and welcoming the world’s best artists… we look to lead and set trends.”

Moreover, CEO of FIVE Hotels and Resorts — and now The Pacha Group — Aloki Batra says over email that the overall vision is for FIVE to have a “global presence”; for it to become a “mammoth entertainment ecosystem”.

“The next chapter of The Pacha Group is being written by FIVE’s famed and inimitable entertainment, hospitality and luxury lifestyle expertise.”

Having experienced it for ourselves, we understand why a music studio, like that of FIVE, that’s within arm’s reach of the beach or the pool, would appeal to a certain calibre of artist.

Learn more about Palm Jumeirah’s FIVE Studio

[Editor’s note: MusicTech’s freelance journalist was a guest at FIVE Studio]


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