Our Clubbing In… series touches down in Morocco with local promoter Amine Akesbi of Moroko Loko parties showing us the ropes. His event has brought the likes of Satoshi Tomiie, Edu Imbernon, Shaun Reeves and Henry Saiz to the beaches and clubs of Morocco in recent years, making him a perfect choice to give us an insight into the local scene.
How, when and where did you start promoting events in Morocco?
I started promoting events in Morocco in 2007 when I was 22. Back in the days I was finishing my masters in finance and I just got back from a few months in Australia and Asia. I used to work in Portfolio Management in a bank in Rabat and I just hated what I was doing. Aside from my ‘job’, I decided to team up with a friend who is a doctor and we created State Of Mind Festival: an event that gathered 5000 people in the centre of Rabat, the capital of Morocco. The total sum of the money we made went to children who had Cancer. This is to date the biggest electronic music festival Morocco has ever seen.
What have been the major changes since you have started?
When I started, the underground electronic music scene was strong, thanks to clubs like Platinum, Pacha and La Reserve. Unfortunately, starting from 2008/2009; the scene just died and the whole mainstream/David Guetta thing took over. A few years later in 2010, we decided to create our concept Moroko Loko, getting back to the roots using very small clubs and the with the main focus on the quality of music. Since then, the scene really got back on its feet. Many parties have evolved and we’re now heading to our sixth anniversary of Moroko Loko
What are the current trends in live music events and clubs in Morocco?
Morocco is know for many live music events. The best-known is Mawazine in Rabat which is one of the biggest festivals in the world with peaks of 300,000 attendees at the many stages across the city. Apart from that, you have many other festivals in each big city in Morocco like Gnawa Festival in Essaouira and Festival des Musique Sacré de Fes. Regarding clubs, the main trend is EDM. A few clubs plays a bit more quality but it’s mainly posh and with bottle service. The real underground scene is made by promoters who either rent a club or throw parties in different locations. Musically, each promoter has its style, from deep house to melodic techno, to tech house, soulful house or micro house. There’s a party for everybody.
Who are some of the most popular international DJs and acts in Morocco right now?
The trend now is focused mainly on acts like Luciano, Solomun, Tale Of Us, Dixon and those guys. I’m sure there are some others but I’m not aware of the other scenes
What are the biggest websites, radio stations and magazines for music culture over there?
Lioumness, lcassetta and Made In Medina are some of the nice websites and blogs. There’s no real magazine for music culture here, or not that I’m aware of. Regarding radio stations, it’s mainly mainstream like Hit Radio which is the biggest radio. You also still have radio stations that try to emphasise a different approach to music like Luxe Radio and Atlantic.
How do the different major cities differ in their music tastes?
The Moroccan electronic music is not that big, meaning that people travel from a city to another one to attend to parties. Let’s just stay that Rabat is more into the deep and progressive side of the music, while Casablanca is more into the techno and soulful while Marrakech is a mix of everything because it’s a place usually filled with people from other cities and abroad.
What’s the balance between homegrown talent and international stars?
There’s mainly local acts who are playing at parties here, although there’s more and more international acts who come and play here, for promoters but also for clubs.
Is clubbing a ‘mainstream’ activity in Morocco, like it has become in many other countries around the world?
Well Moroccan people have always loved to party – it’s in our blood. But I won’t say that it’s mainstream simply because Morocco is a Muslim country and alcohol is supposedly forbidden for Moroccans (although 99% of the alcohol consumption is made by Moroccans). I guess the mainstream clubbing is more focused on ‘cabaret’ where they play Arabic music, but we have more and more people getting into quality music and there’s definitely a demand for that.
What challenges are there which are unique to Morocco in putting on music events?
Morocco is a tricky country to work in. Let’s just say that there are many local specificities that makes it hard simply because Cartesian logic is not the strength of my people!
Finally, what’s the best party you’ve thrown or been to this year?
The best party we’ve thrown this year was our Moroko Loko on July 27. 962 people on the beach during the day, dancing and screaming like crazy and listening to only Moroccan talent. Definitely one to be written in the history books!