In the vibrant world of electronic music, Arab duo Rami Abousabe and Tamer Malki have emerged as a global force under the name Bedouin. They share the origins of their unique rhythm.
In the dimly-lit confines of a music festival in Mexico, fate cast its spotlight on two individuals whose lives were poised for an extraordinary collision of talent and creativity. On one side of the stage stood Rami Abousabe, a musical virtuoso from Boston; on the other, Tamer Malki, a soulful sound architect from New York. They had charted their own musical odysseys over the years, yet, there was something far grander in store for the multi-instrumentalists.
With their latest album The Bedouin Reworks of Dakhabrakha (Human by Default), Abousabe and Malki have embarked on monumental shows, 100 performances every year, and amassed a dedicated following of 300,000 monthly listeners. Their tracks – over two dozen remixes and singles – have garnered over one million streams on Spotify. Founded in 2011 by Abousabe, who is of Egyptian origin, and Malki, hailing from Jordan, Bedouin DJs is more than just a musical duo; its co-founders are nomadic trailblazers in the world of electronic music, particularly within the deep house and techno genres. Their music is a captivating journey, a sonic tapestry woven with diverse experiences and boundless passion. It features elements of world music, drawing from a rich cultural palette, to create a fusion of sounds that transcend borders. From Whispering Words Of Wisdom to Flight of Birds, each track tells a unique story, combining melodic richness with infectious rhythms.
For Bedouin DJs, the clubs of Ibiza hold a special place. These venues are where some of their most cherished memories were made, a magical place of sorts. For the duo, the island is where it all began, and it’s where they continue to love performing. Meanwhile, they also get on the stage at festivals and shows such as Burning Man, Coachella, Tomorrowland, Art Basel, and the Wynn Las Vegas. Abousabe recalls that what began as a musical exchange soon blossomed into a profound friendship, transcending geographic boundaries. Malki soon became a frequent visitor to Abousabe’s world in New York. They began attending parties together, immersing themselves in the vibrant nightlife of the city that never sleeps. “After the party,” Abousabe remembers, “we would go back to my studio and jam and work on music.” Through their late-night studio sessions, their partnership was forged. They labored tirelessly, channeling their collective creativity into rhythms that came to define the essence of Bedouin DJs.
As their innovative synergy unfolded, the DJs’ musical experiments knew no bounds. Their studio, once a place of solitude, became a sanctuary for artistic exploration. Abousabe reminisces, “He would not come for the party; he would come to work on music, and we would work for days and days. He slept on the floor next to me – for a good few years.” In those studio sessions, the foundation of their music was laid. Their creative process was, and remains, a manifestation of pure arti sti c fr eedom. Malki explains, “Sometimes we write music together and sometimes we write it separately. There are no rules or a set kind of method or process.” Abousabe concurs, adding, “Having an open mind is for sure number one.”
As for their name, Malki explains, “We were looking for something that spoke about our relationship.” He continues that the Bedouins’ lifestyle of being nomadic and accepting of everybody and every culture was a major draw. “Walking by a Bedouin tent in the middle of the desert, and being invited in for tea and, you know, treated well – there’s a lot about the word that resonated with us,” he says.
The duo’s musical influences are as diverse as their backgrounds. Abousabe recalls a pivotal moment in his childhood, “Michael Jackson. I’m nine years old, Thriller came out, and I got to see the show, and that changed my life basically.” Malki remembers, “My older brother was playing around and singing; that was kind of my first exposure to music. And I grew up listening to him and learning from him.” The DJ shares that he always dreamed of doing music, but never imagined forging a career from his passion. “You know, it was just a dream that, ‘Oh, my God, imagine I can live off music.’ But it was one of those things that you can never know. Okay, there’s a way to become a firefighter or an astronaut, you know, but with music, it’s more of a dream, and then you don’t know how that’s going to happen. You keep dreaming until it becomes a reality .”
The reality today: touring the world, inspiring crowds. But it’s not a game. Groundwork for their shows is paramount, meticulously tailored to the cultural nuances of their audience. “Preparation is number one. All the hard work is done before you get to the stage. That’s the number one rule for performing,” emphasizes Malki. They find inspiration in unexpected places, as Abousabe says: “I guess you could be inspired by the sound of a coin dropping on the floor, you know, or what song your parents are playing, or the song that’s in the supermarket. It comes from many places.”
From locations, and, from people. Bedouin DJs’ music transcends borders and genres, and their love for partnering with diverse artists knows no bounds. Malki emphasizes, “We’re always open for collaborating with other artists from different worlds and genres; people that see the world differently.” Tamer reflects, “Doing music is a constant learning process. Wherever you go, you learn from the cultures, the crowd, the countries you go to. The moment you stop learning or evolving, is the moment you die.”
The Bedouins’ journey from humble beginnings to international acclaim has instilled in them a profound perspective. Their advice to aspiring artists is rooted in authenticity. “Don’t follow the popular kids; do your own thing,” says Malki. “Make mistakes and develop your courage to be as honest as possible to yourself.” Abousabe’s wisdom echoes the importance of connection, “It’s not about you; it’s about making people happy. If you don’t feel that, you are in serious trouble.”
Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Man Arabia