Cloud X are a South London-based community who aim to curate an inclusive space for all.
David Dabieh and his company Cloud X have been making waves in the music industry for creating spaces for underrepresented artists to flourish, develop their craft and find a sense of community.
Building on this same spirit, David and his business partner Ben Cross, launched the Cloud X Festival – a vibrant event showcasing the beautiful m soul, R&B and alternative sounds that are rarely given a platform to shine in the Uk scene.
The British Blacklist caught up with David in the build-up to this year’s festival to find out about his journey to date, Cloud X’s reputation as an inclusive space for creatives and why he believes that now more than ever, there is a need for live music performances.
Please introduce yourself …
Dabieh. Baby Camus.
Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now?
Cloud X means a lot of things to a lot of different people (music label, artists management, events organiser, what does it mean to you?
For me, it’s more of a philosophy. I’ve always seen art as a vehicle to challenge HOW people think and WHY they think things. Very simply, I see Cloud X as a school of independent thought that exists to help people simply embrace the quality of being one’s self.
The Cloud X Festival specifically seeks to showcase talent from marginalised communities. Some would argue that it would have been a lot easier/profitable to try to appeal to a more mainstream demographic, what made you decide to go this route?
We didn’t really decide to go down a route. It’s just who we are and what we’re interested in, so the decisions came naturally.
Amazingly, this year’s Cloud X Festival line-up is made up of 60% females. Did you make a a conscious decision to structure the line-up this way or is it more so a reflection of the talent who are currently thriving in this space?
Definitely the latter. We just chose people we thought had amazing stories to tell and who do so in bold & iconic ways. But as above, the Cloud X team is also 70% female, so perhaps we curated a lineup that reflected our environment.
The UK RnB scene is bursting into life, why do you feel like it has taken so long for the mainstream to embrace the genre given its massive success overseas?
From what I’ve seen, the UK mainstream has traditionally been driven by major companies who lazily say all RnB is “Americanised“. When you look at who traditionally makes RnB and consequently has been missing out on the funding from the mainstream, there are a lot of loaded messages to take from that. Thankfully due to technology there has been an increase in DIY artists that have gone on to create strong fanbases, sell out live shows and do seriously well with their records. This has forced the mainstream to have to take note. Once the big cats see the little cats making moolah, they will act accordingly.
Streaming and online performances took a bigger leap during the pandemic. However, the first thing you did after lockdown was go the opposite direction and launch a festival. Do you believe that there is value and a need for live music and performance?
I believe it deeply! The internet is a valuable resource in bringing people together but I feel the need for real human connection, stimulating all the senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch. iPhone bangs but it could never!
Most people don’t know that you studied French & German, Foreign Languages and Literatures, because of how involved you are in the creative scene. When did you decide that you wanted to venture into the world music?
I and my business partner Ben Cross have been in music since we were 15. None of it has been a conscious decision, it’s just what we’ve always done. Wake up, be music. When we both finished University, we just kept doing what we’d always done.
I’ve heard you say that the first party you threw was an overwhelming success and attracted over 1,500 people. Has the road since been just as successful or have there been challenges along the way?
Challenges galore, and in so many different forms. If we had the time to really dive in, you would get Jordan Peele on the line and turn it into a movie. Or better yet, a Netflix series!
At the end of the day, we work in music, but we are also running a business. People primarily see me at parties, or in the studio. This is less than 5% of my time. Things they do not see: phone calls with accountants, contract law, interviewing potential employees, balancing a demanding work life with family life, fatigue, countless moments of doubt etc.
On our journey we have also dealt with, last-minute cancellations, being held hostage, managing narcissistic egos, cash-only deals with unscrupulous individuals, global establishments discriminating against women, people of colour, and the LGBTQ community all under the guise of “safety” or some other rubbish. These challenges always teach us the most valuable lessons and ultimately I understand they will always present themselves in new ways.
As the saying goes, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference“.
A lot of the success of Cloud X has been built on long-standing friendships between people who are in the fringes of society. Could you speak to the importance finding “your people” and a place where you fit in, in regards to your ability to achieve happiness and your dreams?
I’d reframe that slightly. I don’t believe anyone can ‘achieve happiness‘, it is not a final place & ‘dreams‘ in essence are forever shifting. Happiness is in the day to day of things. I believe it is in the peace you have knowing that when you look around, you see people that love you and who hold the same values. Having ‘your people’ is invaluable because it means you exist in an environment in which you can honestly be yourself and feel free.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU …
- A book you have to have in your collection?
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date?.
Yann Tiersen – ALL
- A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly?
- The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)?
Moulin Rouge!!!!!!! Listen, the greatest thing a man can learn is just to love and be loved in return!
- What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?
Sad – Watched “Before Sunset” and nearly shed a tear. What a movie.
Mad – I buckled in front of a full bus of people. Come on
Glad – One of my closest friends Kwaku Asante is about to release new music on Wednesday and it is sensational. So excited for him and to see him roll out his new project. Santino Le Saint also just got called on to 070 Shake’s European tour as a special guest. The Cloud X family is thriving!
A link to the Cloud X website
A link to tickets here