The last two years has seen the rise and rise of British house music thanks to a whole new generation of DJs and producers like Maya Jane Coles, Julio Bashmore, Eats Everything and Russ Yallop. In the midst of this explosion of homegrown talent and new musical innovation is Richy Ahmed, Paradise at DC10 and Hot Natured resident and partner in the genre-defining Hot Creations label. Richy has spent the last three summers cutting his teeth at some of the world’s best parties including, Circo Loco in Ibiza, Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, Watergate in Berlin, Burning Man in the middle of the Nevada desert, Verboten in NYC, Glastonbury Festival’s 40th Anniversary, Hideout Festival in Croatia and countless Get Lost and Hot Natured parties all over the world. Playing alongside some of house music’s biggest stars, Richy is the go-to sparring partner with the likes of Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus, Clive Henry and Seth Troxler. On the night before Holland’s biggest national event, Kingsday, Richy will be making his appearance at Straf_Werk’s ‘Kingsnight’, together with Maceo Plex, Subb-An and many more.
Richy, first of all congratulations on your latest EP ‘The Drums’, released two months ago. After the time spent in the studio building a new track, what’s it like to play it for a live audience the first time?
It is nerve wracking, because what happens (and it happens with a lot of producers) is you make a track and you want to try it out, but a lot of the times it’s not even finished yet. I played it first at Lovebox, I just wanted to try it out but there were 30,000 people there. I had a boosted version to play out, but if it’s not finished, but it might not be mixed or mastered right and it really knocks your confidence to ever play it again. Usually you don’t have a good master until it’s signed but everyone has got it by then, so it’s a little bit of a dilemma. You want to play your stuff but if it’s unmastered it might sound weak, but The Drums was all analogue and it was pretty strong straight away. I played it out and, thank God, the entire floor went off!
Have you ever changed a track fundamentally after giving it a ‘test run’ in front of an audience?
I wouldn’t say fundamentally, I haven’t changed the music, but I’ve definitely known what was wrong sometimes. Sometimes the mix is faulty, with some parts of the drop just not working out yet or something like that. So then I change the arrangement and layout, but I have never scrapped the foundation and started again.
Can you explain what a respected label, like Hot Creations, can do for you as a beginning artist?
It gets you gigs! We take a lot of new artists, I like to find new artists that are really good and deserve a big breakthrough. We do reach out to artists and look after them and if they can get a good EP out, we’ll always be there to take more material and help them out. It automatically gives you a platform to expose you to so many people. It’s a good infrastructure, the single will be marketed properly, it’ll be on vinyl and they’ll get a possible gig at Paradise and all the festivals. We all stick by our artists and help them out.
When I started playing, I didn’t even have that many gigs but it was really nice playing with Mark, Russ and the whole team. It’s good when you start off playing with someone you know regularly, rather than just turning up to a club by yourself like a lot of DJs have had to do. So being part of the crew is a really nice thing, we know each other really well, everyone’s got a similar mindset and everyone’s a good laugh. We like to know who the artists arebefore we sign them. They might put on a good show but they might not be on a good vibe with the rest, who knows?
I read in another interview your favorite song ever is Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. If you could, what question (regarding music) would you ask Michael?
If I could ask him a question, it would be what was his most favourite song.
As you are rising through the DJ ranks, do you ever think that this change in lifestyle could change you as a person?
No, it’s not going to change me as a person. I came into this a bit older, I wasn’t a kid, I’m not going to start changing now. When people come into this lifestyle too early, that’s when you see that change to a diva attitude. They haven’t fully developed themselves and they get too much fame too quick, that becomes an aspect of what moulds them as a person. I knew who I was before this and I couldn’t change now. I’m a bit more refined now and you get to go to nice places, but I’m still the same.
Your last gigs in Amsterdam were during ADE at the Paradise show by DGTL, and a couple weeks back we had the pleasure of having you over again at De Nachtdivisie in Chicago Social Club. How do you find the Dutch crowd compared to the British?
Quite similar, they know their music. The crowd can be quite young sometimes in Holland but there’s loads of music and a really nice mix of people. There’s no louty behavior, like you sometimes see in Britain, you don’t see that in the crowd here.
Next up is your gig at Kingsnight with Maceo Plex, Subb-an b2b Adam Shelton, Prunk, Detroit Swindle and more. What do you know about our Kingsday/Kingsnight rituals? (previously called queensday/night)
I know that they call it Koningsdag over there. It used to at the end of August but it got moved because of a different queen’s birthday. I know everyone goes crazy and have loads of parties, going crazy while dressed up in orange. I’m looking forward to seeing it!
So now you know what Kingsday is, will you join us in orange to be a fellow Dutchman for one night?
Yeah! I’m definitely going to wear orange.
When playing, what sides of your character are shown behind the decks and are you perhaps different from the “normal” you in that moment?
I’m not different when I settle down, I’m just me. But I am nervous at the start of pretty much every set, and that’s not really me. I’m not really a nervous person, in every aspect of my life I’m fairly confident. But after playing for a while I always get into it and loose the nervous feeling.
What piece of studio gear will you definitely still be using in ten years time?
The Acai MPC or the Roller 828 drum machine.
In a melancholic moment, what do you sometimes miss most about your hometown of Newcastle?
My family, pals and the general banter. London’s my favorite city in the world, but you don’t get the banter that you get back home.
What has been you greatest moment so far in you career?
Playing Paradise at DC 10.
A favorite old classic that you find yourself playing over and over again?
I will always play Model 500 by NO UFO’s, one of the first techno tracks. I also always play Can You Feel It by Mr. Lee and Mario Diaz.
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Maceo Plex | Subb-An b2b Adam Shelton | Richy Ahmed | Detroit Swindle | Gardens Of God | Prunk | Raaf |