Serve us up a Mashup Burger please! Go heavy on the nasty headwrecking techno, sprinkle on some classic vocals, and arrange it on an plate with a generous helping of hapiness on the side. That's the musical meal we're digesting after talking to the esteemed "chef" Sultan who's DJ and production skills are cooking on his latest release, "Yoshitoshi Montreal."
Hi Sultan! Thanks for sitting down with us (virtually) for this interview. Actually, since our readers can't see you, can you tell me where you are, and what's it look like, as you're answering these questions?
Hey! Thank you for this virtual interview! I am actually sitting on a super comfortable leather seat on Air Canada flying to Chicago at the moment answering these questions, listening to the remix Ned Shepard and I just finished for Nadia Ali’s first single from her forthcoming solo album in my headphones while watching the clouds say hello as they pass me by.
What are your three favorite things about Montreal?
1. The people, the multiculturalism
2. The freedom, the security
3. The Nightlife and musical diversity
Can you narrow it down to three for Egypt too?
1. The people, their humor and the simplicity of life
2. The archeological sites, the history
3. The FOOD
That's quite a geographical jump - what motivated you and how did you decide on Montreal?
Actually I moved to Canada to study engineering at McGill University after graduating from high school in Egypt. Initially, I was going to be attending university in the United States. In fact, I was on my way there when my family’s application for the Canadian citizenship came through at exactly the same time.
I tried to research your background and couldn't come up with very much! Are you secretive about any parts of your life? Or just never been asked?? So... then... tell me, how did you get started in music? Or what was your first musical memory?
I’m definitely not secretive about any part of my life; I guess I was never asked…until now that is. ;-) Throughout my school life my main focus was always on getting really good grades so that I could attend an IV league university. I guess you could say I was a little bit of a nerd back in those days. However on the other side was my obsession with heavy metal. I would spend hours listening to metal bands and watching metal music videos. I realized then that I really wanted to play the drums and twirl my drumsticks like Tommy Lee and the drummers from Judas Priest and Quiet Riot. After bugging my parents for months on end about getting a drum set, they finally gave in and bought me a simple drum set. I was the happiest kid ever. Granted I had no clue how to play but I still had my drum set and that’s all that mattered! Three weeks later… The Gulf War of 1990 and my family was forced to leave Kuwait and move to Cyprus then Egypt. That’s where I gained my love for the guitar.
Who or what influenced you, do you think, to love music?
I think it definitely started with my sisters. Both my sisters are a lot older than I am and I must admit I grew up a spoiled younger brother. One of my sisters had a passion for dancing and was always playing music in the house and dancing around to it. Subconsciously her dancing allowed me to visualize what music was and how it translated into so many different things such as emotion and movement. I guess you could say she was the first to show me the power of music.
How did you evolve from those early experience, into the DJ/musician/producer you are today?
I guess as I grew older and moved from country to country, I learned a lot more about the different styles of music, I listened to music in different languages, I watched the dances of different cultures, I played so many different instruments and most of all I met people with so many different tastes for music who exposed me to even more musical styles and genres. All those together have played a big role in identifying me as the producer I am today.
Ok now let's talk about your Yoshitoshi album!!! But nothing too serious. Lately I've been into word associations, how about type the first word that comes into your mind for some of the artists on your latest release!
Ned Shepard: brother
Joe T Vanelli: Italy
Narcotic Thrust: Hits
16 bit lolitas: Chunky
Do any of the tracks you've included have a special story or meaning to them that you can share?
“No Why” is one of those songs that means so much to me. In fact it was the first song I ever wrote with Zara and the first song Zara ever performed on and recorded ever. We call it our little baby ;-> With Ned working on the Rhodes on the intro, it just brought the song back to life in a whole new perspective and brought back so many beautiful memories
Remix or mashup - do you agree its a little like legal vs. diy reworkings? How do you decide which songs you're going to remix or mash? (Is that the right verb to use for a mashup ;)?
When it comes to remixes, I choose songs that have elements that really strike a chord with me or an original that I love. With Mashups, its all about choosing a song that I love, want to revive or simply a classic that I know will get a reaction cause everyone knows it.
My grandma just asked: "What's a mashup, sweetie?" How would you explain it to her?
Mashup is basically combining elements from two tracks ormore to make one track. However the key to a mashup is that the force of the tracks together is stronger than the single tracks on their own. With most of my mashups I usually go a step further and add pads, guitars and pianos over and above mashing the tracks together. For your grandma I’d say, (mind you this is totally random) “Imagine you were a big fan of fast food burger joints such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys. You love the meat from Wendys, you love the Buns from Burger King and you absolutely loved the freshness of the lettuce and onions from McDonalds. Now imagine a burger with all those elements. That’s a mashup… burger that is.
Love love love your dreads. But... heavy, right?
If you only knew haha. And tons heavier when you get out of the shower and dreads soak up all the water.
Hard to sleep on?
I’ve never had problems sleeping with my dreads up until recently cause they are getting so long. However where there is a problem, there is a solution. ;-)
What's this you're working on with Nadia Ali?
I’ve co written 6 tracks on Nadia Ali’s forthcoming album, fully produced 4 tracks on the album, remixed the first single off her album and playing guitars for her live show.
And what else do we have to look forward to from you in the future?
Keep an eye out for our remix of Nadia Ali’s first single. I am also currently working on remixing the first single from Matt Darey’s forthcoming album, a single from Julie Dennis’s forthcoming album and Ned and I will be launching our record label, Harem Records by January. Aside from all that be sure to tune into my radio show “Connected Live’ syndicated to over 15 stations including DI.FM, Danceradio.gr and Proton Radio. I’ve been real fortunate to have amazing guests so far on the show including Dubfire, Desyn Masiello and Matthew Dekay and many more to come including Max Graham and Danny Howells. I’ll also be launching a new radio show on friskyRadio, Harem Sessions in the next month, dedicated to our new label and to the artist who will be a part of the Harem family. Other than that touring and more touring for my compilation Yoshitoshi Montreal.
Thank you so much!!! :)