After having played for thousands of clubbers over the past couple of years in both Lebanon and the Middle East, namely Cyprus, Syria and Egypt. Johnny has been able to build a huge fan base in just a few months at one of the most frequented pubs in Gemayze “Gauche Caviar”, giving the nightlife in Beirut a new meaning where you could actually spend a club night at a pub!
His unparalleled mixing and track selection skills give him his unique identity and capability of turning a dance floor into total mayhem. With a worldwide spread mashup (Above and Beyond vs. Armin van Buuren – Good to love you more) and a few tracks in the bag as well as sold out club nights in Beirut, Johnny Rizk is beginning to give trance music a unique touch of quality and originality.
In 2009, Johnny played in Cyprus alongside trance legends Ferry Corsten in March and Armin van Buuren in August where he rocked the outdoor stage with a phenomenal 6+ hour set.
Johnny hosts his weekly radio show on the number 1 hit music station in Cyprus Mix FM, a 100% independent radio station. The show is called Outbreak and airs every friday night at 11 in Nicosia and Larnaca. You can download the show weekly by going to http://www.cluboholic.com/djod/outbreak.
Johnny Rizk is still resident until today at one of the most talked about pubs in Gemayze: “Gauche Caviar” every friday and saturday night and he also plays along with the biggest names in International events in the country and the region.
Johnny Rizk another talent on the music scene from Lebanon. An Exclusive interview with BeirutNightLife.com team (Beirut, Lebanon).
- When did you start DJing?
I started DJing when I was only 12 years old. I was obsessed with music back then (and I still am!) and I used to listen to CD compilations that my older brothers used to bring from Europe. They were mainly 90s music and some 80s and I used to listen to the radio a lot and I was fascinated by the fact that songs were mixing together from one into another smoothly and in a beautiful way so I wanted to apply that with what I had at home: a simple radio tuner and a sony discman! I didn’t have a mixer so I managed to plug the tuner into the right channel of our Hi-Fi installation and the tuner to the left channel of it, and this is where it all started! I tried to pick songs from the CDs that were closer in tempo to the ones being aired on the radio and I’ve began mixing with every single one of them without any pitch control! I got lucky at many times and beatmached a lot of songs together but things became more serious for me with practice at home and the many different house parties I’ve played during my teenage years, also with very simple equipment! My DJing career went to a professional level when I joined a radio station, became a daily on air DJ, a head producer which I also taught myself to be, started getting many residencies in Monot and playing several private parties over the past 7 years until I finally got a residency at Gauche Caviar in Gemayze (almost 2 years now) and played with Ferry Corsten in Lebanon in 2006 at a pre-party and again in 2009 in Cyprus along with Armin van Buuren last summer in Limassol.
- What are your inspirations?
The main inspiration that got me started and into this level of DJing now was growing up watching Music Television and going to parties and seeing DJs mix so many songs together live and get a strong reaction from the crowd. It’s all such beautiful blend that gets so many emotions out of you and lets you forget the fact that you are there for long hours standing and playing music. It’s even better when you start making music and people start listening to it and understand the message you are trying to deliver through it. Legends such as Ferry Corsten, Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold are the perfect inspiration to me in everything they’ve achieved until now and they push me to improve myself everyday just to get to their level and feel the music and the crowd the way they do.
- Define your genre of music.
I don’t like to call it Trance music only. I can define it as Electronic Dance Music ranging from House to progressive, tech and uplifting Trance. If you listen to a set of mine you can always find something housy or progressive with a blend of tech, uplifting, melodic and vocal most of the times. What matters is the beautiful melody and the dirty bassline to dance to!
- What was your best event and why?
I was supposed to play a maximum of 3 hours at a pre-party that Mix FM Cyprus (not affiliated with the one in Lebanon) organized outside the main Armin van Buuren event last summer 2009 in Limassol. The pre-party purpose was to entertain the people and put them in the right mood while they were waiting, in a huge queue outside the event venue, to get in after their tickets were checked and processed. Obviously there were more than 5000 people (with tickets pre-sold to them) to fit in a venue that logically holds 4000 squeezed. So this made the process of them getting in from 2 narrow entrances really slow, and the organizers have made plans for all of them to be inside by midnight, the time my set was supposed to end. By 1.30 a.m. Armin had arrived and started djing and there was still more than 1000 people outside still waiting and dancing to my music which was still going on as I took a decision not to stop in front of such masses enjoying it, at least not before they all get in! Another half hour passed and all we could see was people going out from the venue because it was too hot and overcrowded. The rest of the people managed to get in and then went out again after another 30 minutes due to the same reasons, so I ended up with about 2000 people outside who didn’t want to get in again and the party went on outside with me DJing and I was left without about 1500 people until 3:45 a.m. the time when the Cypriot clubbing curfew had went into effect and all the music had to be stopped inside and outside. Eventually what was supposed to be a pre-party for hundreds of people turned out to be a main party for thousands who couldn’t get in over more than 6 hours! The vibe was really amazing and they thanked me for saving their night so It was definitely something to remember as my best event so far!
- What’s your 5 year plan?
I intend to make music, Trance music. I will never stop DJing so I want to experiment making music and at the same time playing it to the crowd as I’ve produced one track already and the responsive was massive! I’m really eager to expand my production knowledge on top of DJing and see where it could take me one day!
- What other activities do you do on the side? Job, family?
I’ve opened a professional recording and production studio in Achrafieh under a brand new company called Joint Productions. My main focus is to deliver what the client really sees as his product image, either it was a simple voice over, a radio/tv Ad or even a piece of music! It allows me to keep doing what I love to do besides DJing which is making ads and producing music. I still study at University Radio and Television and I’m adding this knowledge to my work experience and to be honest it’s great to learn something new everyday! I love watching movies also either it’s a DVD with my family or going out to the movies more than twice a week with my friends.
- Describe Lebanon in one sentence.
The future worldwide clubbing destination.
- Describe the World in one sentence.
A torn out piece that needs to come together.
Interview prepared by Ceem Haidar.