Artist Spotlight

Rony Seikaly

Lebanon

"Even during the NBA, I would always have a club at my house and I would play music for my friends. House music was always it, you know, disco was kind of the beginning that turned into house music, and it's morphed into many, many different genres of house music. But that's where the original kind of music came from. I still today have a club in my house, and I still play music for my friends. That is my passion and that's what I love the most."

Rony Seikaly's life story is something out of a movie. Born in Lebanon, Rony moved to the USA at age ten for four years before moving back to Greece at age 14. While in Greece, he discovered disco and basketball. So he began hosting a "club" in his parent's garage, inviting his friends and teammates over to party while playing any sort of house music he could.

At the same time, he was discovered by a former Greek basketball player when he went to buy size 15 sneakers at a local shoe store. Despite never having played before, Rony used his incredible athleticism and drive to quickly become one of the worst-kept secrets in Greece. He attended a high-level basketball camp in the United States and got recruited by Syracuse University.

After a successful four years, he was drafted in the top 10 by the Miami Heat. Rony was an impact player for twelve years before retiring to Miami. Over the years, he has built relationships with artists worldwide and shared his passion for house music with anyone who would listen. After being convinced by close friends Erick Morillo and P Diddy to pursue a career, Rony went on to host a weekly radio show on Sirius XM while touring and eventually producing music.

"I never really wanted to kind of play out and get judged and have people say, what the fuck is this guy going on? Well, what the hell is this guy doing? Why is he deciding to be a DJ? Does he miss the limelight? And honestly, like, that's the last thing I miss. I don't miss the limelight. I don't miss being judged. I don't miss traveling… But for the love of music and Eric Morillo, may he rest in peace. He used to come to my house to listen to me and he says, Rony, you need to play out. You've got a different style, you've got a different sound and you need to play out. You need to let people hear your sound. And he was the one that kind of pushed me to get into this... I know that I have a certain style of music and it's not going to resonate with everybody… I'm here to put happy smiles on the dance floor and to kind of bring back the energy that we had back in the 90s, 2000, where the club was there to go dance and to go have fun and to smile and take pictures and be a celebration of laughter, of joy."

Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg's images jump to mind when we think of artists or celebrities jumping into the booth. Rony wanted to do everything he could to avoid any of these comparisons. One listen to a set or track from Seikaly reveals a sound steeped in underground music culture. He does not abide by any one genre. It's melodic but not melodic techno; it's progressive but not fully progressive house. He prefers to stay somewhere in the world of dark progressive with a hint of house music, vintage and new. Furthermore, he has worked tirelessly to stay up to date with the times.

"I don't want to get stuck in a certain sound, and that's why you actually hear [a difference] 10 years ago versus now… I feel that the music continues to change and I'm just going to keep following it as far as it goes. When people stop liking the music, I'll stop making it."

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Although he began his journey into DJing early on, learning and understanding music production was a more serious undertaking. Once again, at the behest of his good friend Erick Morillo, he began producing music for Erick's label. Rony studied production like he did basketball, pouring his life into learning the tricks of the trade from the very best. After spending countless hours absorbing the knowledge of other artists, Rony eventually felt comfortable enough to create music that fell into his identity rather than fitting Erick's label. Since then, Rony's production chops have been recognized by some of the best in the world. His collaborators are wide-ranging, including Sasha, Bedouin, Harry Romero, and most recently, P Diddy.


Read: Gray Area Spotlight: Harry Romero


"Diddy has come to my house so many times to listen to me play... My dream was always to have some influence of hip hop and R&B in the house music where the two can blend, but without moving too much on either side... He's got such a distinct voice that I just, you know, I never wanted to push my friendship and say, 'Hey, I want to do a track with you or something like this.' But at some point, we were just chatting and I said to him, can I use some vocals from you on a track? And then he said to me, 'Well, you know, if we're going to have to get into the studio, I'm going to push you, I'm going to make sure that it's what I want.' So he then sent me a voice message, telling me the same kind of thing like, 'we've been talking about this for so long, and I'm so happy that it's finally happening and I can't wait.' I took that voice message and just kind of put it on the track itself, and it fit perfectly because it's [an example of] my story with him, and that's the story I wanted. It was a personal message to me."

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Given Rony's financial stability from a lengthy NBA career, he can focus on his music career as a pure passion project. He no longer feels the pressure to accept gigs for a paycheck. He only makes music he wants to make and only works with those he wants to work with. His passion for electronic music is undeniable, and his body of work is remarkable.

Although shows are less common these days, Rony is as busy as ever. Not only did he release his single with Diddy, he has an album coming in March of 2022 that will feature a high-powered remix package. Rony is also politically active, using his voice as much as possible to encourage the citizens of Lebanon to vote and fight for democracy to push back against an authoritarian regime.

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