Wednesday, 10 March 2010

15 minutes with Amir

This month sees the release of Amir's debut release for NRK Music, the great 3 track "Uneasy Listening" EP. Amir, AKA Rimah Khalouf, has been bubbling under on the house fraternity for a couple of years, and with a slew of stella releases for high profile labels such as Nick Curly’s 8Bit, Trapez, Great Stuff Recordings and bouq. And now he takes 15 minutes with us here on the NRK blog, to introduce himself and discuss some house music bizzness!

Hi Amir, glad to have you on board at NRK Music, with the release of your “Uneasy Listening” EP. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into house music, and your first few productions, labels you produced for…

Well after all the minimal hype, I got a little bored with everyone playing the same stripped down rhythms, so I decided to get some more musicality into my music again, which is why I started my “Bodymusic” series in late 2006, mainly released on BCB Tec, but also Suchtreflex and another label. I wouldn’t ever say I only produce House music, but basically all facets of electronic dance music. I’m not the one who’s re-invented the wheel, but I’ve been loving and living this music since the mid-90s and I look at the cycles it moves in and find my own interpretation of what is going on in the music. A lot of people think I’m ahead of my time, but maybe it’s only because I have just lived through so many dance-music phases that I notice which genres get ignored for too long. So I look for elements I enjoyed in this niche and start something new. I guess there aren’t really any new ideas, simply new surroundings, combinations, circumstances and interpretations of the ancient rhythms and melodies.

Who have been your best supporters so far from the DJ community?

Oh, I can’t really say. Loco Dice has currently been playing a lot of my stuff as well as Richie Hawtin. The biggest “wow-moment” for me was when Booka Shade decided to put my tune on their DJ-Kicks mix two or so years back. Luciano also says he plays my stuff, I really don’t like bragging, but my promoter tells me that any DJ getting the feedbacks I get, should tattoo them on his body, because their so incredible (laughs). Personally I love it as well, like 10 years ago, when I started producing, Richie and Booka Shade were major influences and then getting props by them is very beautiful, but obviously not the reason why I make music. I think that is also reflective, because I get positive reactions from all sorts of artists, also one’s I’d have never dreamed of them liking my music. Thanks to everyone out there supporting the songs, I honestly appreciate it. (hesitates) Oh, why not, I’ll give a big round of props out now (grins): Thanks to Dubfire, Karotte, Loco Dice, Monika Kruse, Tiefschwarz, Santé. 2000 and One, Gregor Tresher, Johnny D, Reboot, Thomas Schumacher, Stephan Bodzin, Lauhaus, Paco Osuna, Someone Else, Anthony Collins, Tim Green, Sebastien Leger, Mathias Kaden, Kabale und Liebe, William Kouam Djoko, Eric D. Clark, Matthias Tanzmann, DJ Hell, Brother’s Vibe, Robert Dietz, Nick Curly, Gorge, Tobi Neumann, Piemont, Hernan Cattaneo, Laurent Garnier, Anja Schneider, Martinez, DJ Thomilla, Nic Fanciulli, Livio & Roby, Shinedoe, Konrad Black, Gavin Herlihy, &Me, Rampa, Chris Liebing, Danny Tenaglia, Ivan Samgghe, Rainer Weichhold, Jennifer Cardini, Kiki, Toni Rios, Agoria, DJ T, Jimpster, Sebo K, Sahin Meyer, Onur Ozer, MANDY and all the other people who are said to have played my music in the last year or so. Should I have forgotten to mention you now, I’m sorry. Man, I feel like someone from Wu-Tang paying props to the whole 5 boroughs (laughs).

Who are your favourite artists/labels right now?

I play a lot of Moon Harbour at the moment. Vakant is also great, NRK of course, Suchtreflex, Blabla, Desolat, WeCanDoIt, Trapez, Area Remote, Souvenir, Bangbang!, hmm, there are really many great labels out there at the moment. Without wanting to be biased, I’ve got to say Butch is my favourite artist right now. He is so versatile and really so experienced with dance-floors, his tunes are always exciting, driving and emotional, whether he does real thumping techno, experimental minimal or jazzy house. I am really happy to be friends with such a great producer.

Can you tell us about the Bouq family, and what you guys represent and do?

The consists of Butch, Chris Laut, Sebastian Lutz and me. Butch is without a doubt our most famous member, but it doesn’t mean we don’t still give each other a hard time (grins). He works as our A&R and obviously if he doesn’t find a good song, he’ll just make one for bouq. (laughs). Chris does the whole PR and label-work. But don’t get me wrong, he is a real artist at heart probably more than a proper office worker. He also produces music and DJs and you can look forward to some good music from that direction. The kid’s still very young and simply doesn’t care about any rules in music, which makes his stuff really exciting. Sebastian Lutz is now our uprising star, who currently has released on Suchtreflex and really made a big impact with his first songs last year, already gaining support by Carl Craig, Karotte, Dubfire and many more. He is such a relaxed guy, he’s a dream for any club-owner or booker, also because he connects so well with the audience. For bouq. he mainly looks after the events and license requests and other fun things. We currently tour a lot together, obviously we have the label and now we’re getting together to do a lot more exciting and fun stuff, trust me, you’ll want to check bouq. some time soon.

You are based in Mainz, Germany, what is the music scene there currently like? Do you travel to Berlin often? What are your thoughts on the huge club scene in Berlin and the amount of music coming out right now from German artists?

I can’t really tell concerning Mainz. I know many musical people living here, many people also making music, but there doesn’t seem to be any connecting going on much, except within close circle of friends. Thomas Heckmann is quite close to us, he does our mastering and works closely together with Chris, who does his DJ promo and of course with Butch. Also Robert Dietz lives here, but we somehow never get together. Not that there is any intent in not meeting, it just doesn’t happen. Of course there are many people you see regularly, when you go clubbing, Mainz isn’t huge and with Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Mannheim and Offenbach near, there are enough options to do your own thing I guess. Berlin is always incredible. I have family living there, so I go up quite frequently, but it is important to sometimes be undercover, otherwise you simply don’t find any rest at all. I love the place but doubt I could live there. At least not for long in one piece (laughs).

Long time NRK friend, Ian Pooley, hails from Mainz. Do you guys know each other?

Yeah, of course I’ve meet Ian many a time. I was a little too young to be hanging out with him and his clique back in the 90s, but I remember us having a chat at his legendary “TNI” party, where I went to still my thirst for dance. After that we saw and got to know each other, seeing as I also already played at some local clubs here back in the days. Very humble and interesting person, his music has always been high class and top notch and him moving to Berlin has definitely been a loss for Mainz.

Aside from house music, what other music do you listen to?

I like a lot of Swing and Big Band Jazz. Chris often puts on free jazz and abstract stuff on in the office, but it’s too confusing and strenuous for me, especially when I work. I also love early 90s rap music, Dr. Dre and Too Short and so on. Hmm, I don’t really know, it is totally dependent on my current mood, mind frame and so on. Sometimes I love Steve Reich, but sometimes I’ll politely ask you to f*** off with that annoying music. It simply depends, I guess anything that reaches me, I listen to. I’ve recently given up on CDs in the car, I listen to the local Rock’n’Roll radio station now mainly.

What are your plans/aspirations for 2010?

A lot of beer and sex (laughs). No, sorry, I’ve just come back from Berlin and played at the Watergate club, so I’m not so sure, what my next goal is (grins). Nah, I’m still lying, we have enough on our plate. We’ve got upcoming gigs in Bootshaus/Cologne, Q-Club/Zurich and Cocoonclub/Frankfurt, new music coming out, I’ve just finished my diploma and am now heavily hitting the studio, which is a great deal of fun. Can’t tell you any real facts right now, but I’m keeping busy and there will be some releases coming soon, maybe even my first biggie (smiles).

Who would be your dream DJ/artist line up for your party? You can choose DJs and bands….

Hmm, I’d have the Rat Pack start off, Jamie Cullum take over, after him Coblestonejazz and then have Mathias Kaden, Luciano and Loco Dice play. That should be fun (smiles).

What are your all time top five house music records?

Soul Vision – Come Into My Room
Jon Cutler – Its Yours
Deep Swing – In the Music
Phoenix - If I Ever Feel Better
Josh One - Contemplation(King Britt)

What are your current top five house tunes?
Butch - No Worries
Johnny D- Blue Shoes
Alex Dolby & Giorgio Roma Viola
Mendo - Encantos EP
Amir – 1st Try

Amir's Myspace page
Uneasy Listening EP on 12" vinyl
Uneasy Listening EP at Beatport

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