UO X RISE: ABOUT A BAND – RICHY AHMEDNovember 28, 2016
Talking MTV Raps, developing Paradise and taking full creative control with British DJ Richy Ahmed ahead of Rise festival this December.
UO: Tell us about your background in music. How did the music scene in Newcastle shape you or influence your sound?
I started off with hip hop first, I wasn’t really into house music before I went to Ibiza. The house music scene in Newcastle didn’t really shape me, it was more Ibiza that did. It was a lot of US house and US garage, by the time I had got into house and techno I had actually moved to Leeds. The Newcastle scene now has developed and it’s really good – it’s come a long way.
UO: What did you grow up listening to and was it always your plan to make music?
I grew up listening to hip hop, 90s and early 00s hip hop. There wasn’t really anyone listening to hip hop where I lived apart from a small group that were friends with me and we became connected because of it. We used to watch MTV Raps every Saturday morning, back then there wasn’t really any internet, you couldn’t really find stuff, you had to go and buy the albums. We’d call each other up and say what we’d been listening to; like Method Man, Wu Tang Clan and all the cool underground hip hop back then. I felt connected because we had a link together, no one else where we lived were really like that so that’s what I listened to for most of my teens. I didn’t always believe I was going to make music, I always wanted to DJ and production became second but now it’s something I love and couldn’t live without; the creative process of it all. I’m getting better with every track and just happy to be doing it.
UO: How did you become affiliated with Hot Creations and what have your experiences been since joining?
Jamie started the label with Lee in 2010 and after about a year, I put a Hot Creations party on in Barcelona at the W Hotel with a friend before I was DJing which was a massive success. I got to play because Jamie’s Serato wouldn’t work and he knew I was a good DJ. So after that, he asked me to be his tour DJ. From then, I started touring with him. After about six or seven releases from the label, Jamie seemed to move in one direction and Lee had another. Jamie didn’t really have the time to organise the label but wanted a wider range of releases. The label was really successful, but it was only going one way with the whole disco influenced house vibe at the time. Lee really wanted to keep it that way but Jamie wanted to toughen it up.
Jamie knew that my music was completely different from what they produced; it was a lot more house-orientated with some techno influences. So, he asked me to be one of the main A&R’s and now I am one of the partners in the company.
UO: Can you tell us about your experience at Paradise over the past years and the ways in which it has evolved for the better?
Jamie had the option of doing a party and I actually came up with the name Paradise. We wanted to name it after one of Jamie’s tracks but also we loved the Paradise Garage.
It was really cool watching it all develop; Jamie has worked so hard on it. Me, Kim, Nick and Jamie, we have all put our heart and soul into it. It’s really helped me, my career and made me a better DJ. I’ve got a regular slot at DC-10 and made the inside room, my room as well as playing on the terrace. Jamie always puts me on the same time as him at the end and he tells me I’m the only person who can keep that room busy when he’s playing as well. It’s made my DJ career accelerate in a way that I probably couldn’t get from any other avenue. It’s special to watch it improve year on year, lineups, production and I think it’s the most original party on the island. The way it looks and the way it feels I think it’s really special and something I’m really proud of. Even the tiniest details, like the dancers match the colour spectrum of the flyers; that small detail that goes into it is what I love. Jamie has put all his own money into it, it’s all his own thing. As we’re not a big corporation or a big production team I think we’ve done really well.
UO: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt whilst DJing across the world?
Getting to know different types of people, different themes, different cultures. When you’re DJing you’re no longer in a bubble, you get to see the world and how it is from other people’s eyes rather than just your eyes. It makes you more open to different people.
UO: Do you have any tips for up-and-coming DJs or artists who want to get their work noticed?
Try to be yourself, don’t conform. Try to make what you think is good and hopefully people will like it. I’ve done the A&R for Hot Creations for quite a few years now and I always find that if you’re trying to make tracks that you think a specific label is going to like, nine times out of 10 you won’t get it right. If you do your own thing, people will buy into it because it will sound the best it can be rather than trying to make other people happy or fit their moods. When I make a tune, I try to make something I love and see where it fits and I think that’s the best way to do it – stick to your own guns. I’ve had unique opportunities to have that luxury and some DJs haven’t; if you’re not relying on sales to pay the bills you probably have a lot more freedom.
UO: What was the most valuable lesson of setting up your own label?
I’ve learnt the business a lot more putting vinyl out there as it’s just my first release next week. I’ve learnt a lot about the business through running Hot Creations, so I’m open to it now. With my new 4ThirtyTwo label, what I love about it is having full creative control and putting my love and creativity out into the world and seeing what people think.
UO: What other labels and producers are you currently working with?
I’ve just done a remix for Groove Armada and a big remix for Infinity Ink which I’m really happy with. I’ve also just done a remix with Darius Syrossian for 2020 Limited. I’m super happy with all three. I’ve just done an EP for Tuskegee, The Martinez Brothers and Seth Troxler’s label and also an EP for Edible called ‘Techniques’, it’s got me on the vocals and is quite heavy techno. I’ve also just done a compilation with me, wAFF and Patrick Topping for Coyote, super heavy techno coming out in January. So I’m trying to mix it up, I’m really happy with the music I’m making and everyone seems to want it, it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done. So we’ll just see how it goes.
UO: What can we expect from your set at Rise Festival?
A lot of energy, a mixed bag of music from techno to disco and hopefully just a good, high energy impressive set. I’m really going to enjoy it. Everyone from Jamie Jones to The Martinez Brothers are playing all my tunes, sometimes I bottle it though in case I don’t get a good reaction. But I’ve learnt over the last six months, that’s how you promote them. I’ve just come back from South America and I played all the new tracks and they really went off. So when you get that sort of response from a crowd you feel free to do it again. But when you make something you think – what if it doesn’t go off or doesn’t go down well. But I’m getting past that fear now.
UO: What can we look forward to hearing from you in 2017?
Lots of new music and better sets; I’ve been buying so much new music. More releases and music on 4ThirtyTwo as well.
The most memorable show I’ve ever played…
Two years ago for Elrow, Sonar. One of the best parties I’ve ever played.
My favourite piece of kit is…
The Prophet-6. I’ve just bought it, one of the best synths I’ve ever played. The last four or five tracks I’ve done on that, the sound is phenomenal, really looking forward to making more tunes on it.
I’m currently listening to…
A Tribe Called Quest
My favourite venue to play is…
The terrace at DC-10.
Get your tickets to Rise Festival, 10 – 17 December, here.