"I would really like to explore the whole landscape of musical genres and to mix and to be playful with them in order to create something totally unique"
Rashid Ajami creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
Can you tell us a little about your career experience? Where are you from and how did you get into music? Was it all internet based?
From a young age, I’ve been obsessed with music. I started listening to techno, garage, and dance music at the age of 10. I grew up in London and ended up at Georgetown in Washington DC for university. It was at university that I decided to start messing around with music production. I made my first big track Rule The World with very little experience and the production wasn’t super high, but there was a vibe and people liked the track. This gave me the confidence to keep going and the rest is history!
Who have been your main inspirations (both musical and in 'life')? And how have they affected your sound?
There are many artists and people that inspire me, but when it comes to my music, I try to focus on what’s true to me in any given moment. Currently, I really like the music and art that the label Ghostly is putting out. They are very cross-genre and I like that they break boundaries of what’s expected.
How would you define your sound?
I would define it as emotive and led by feeling. I hope that it evokes something emotional in the listener. My goal is not to get too comfortable in just one genre. I want to be unexpected with what I put out. The idea of just being a ‘Deep House’ producer doesn’t interest me. I would really like to explore the whole landscape of musical genres and to mix and to be playful with them in order to create something totally unique.
How has your sound evolved so far?
I’m experimenting more with live instruments these days especially piano. With time, I’ve been moving more and more towards minimal music; fewer elements, silence and more space in the mixes.
What can you tell us about your last ‘job’ before producing?
I started a technology business that creates private social networks for people who want to have their own online communities. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot, but ultimately it only reminded me that my true passion is music.
Are you the type of producer who can create music on the fly or do you need to be rooted in a studio?
On the fly. I just need my laptop, headphones and a keyboard. My set-up is very lean and I believe in ‘less is more’ from a gear and production standpoint.
Your latest production was ‘The Lie’ on Selador Recordings, a collab with enigmatic emerging producer Dröm. What did you want to convey with this track?
I really love working with Dröm because we come from different musical backgrounds. We wanted to bridge the gap between soundtrack music and deep house: Cinematic melodic house! What productions can we expect from you next? We heard rumours of a Tale & Tone release…
Yes! I’m very excited about this release. Two originals and an amazing remix from Madraas. This year will be filled with new releases. I’m super excited to be back.
And what about your work in art? Can you share a little more with us on this?
I’m really interested in immersive art experiences. I’m currently working with a small collective of artists that includes light, sound, multi-sensorial environments, video and film. Our mission is to create environments that people can experience and can explore from the ground up. The collective includes my sister, Rania Ajami who is an award-winning film director and immersive artist. Always fun to work with family!
How are you finding your current circumstances during COVID? Has your work been affected a lot, and are you managing?
It’s been positive from a production stand-point. I have used the time to keep my head down and churn out new music. Sometimes it’s tough and there are days where the inspiration doesn’t come, but overall trying to make the best out of it!
I feel like the underground scene will continue to persist. Do you think we can go back to "normal" events and festivals?
I hope so. I would really love to play some festival gigs. Whatever happens, music is part of life so I’m confident it will always persist even if the format changes and evolves.
What are your 5 best songs of 2020?
Mitch Oliver – Alleghanys
Drake x Headie One – Only You Freestlye
Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders
Black Coffee – Muyé (Black Coffee & Ndudozo Makhathini Journey Mix)
Heathered Pearls – Missing Highs
What’s next for you?
Only time will tell J