Soundcheck #18: Hamdi

Hot off the decks, we linked up with Hamdi to chat about life in the bass scene. The multitalented producer, DJ and MC is a massive name at only 21. He’s moved from Oxford to Brighton to join the label Southpoint, and has plenty to say about the state of club culture, getting a wheel-up from Plastician, and rapping in the snow….

“The beats will speak for themselves!”

Soundchecks are all about checking out new sounds behind the scenes. In these exclusive chats with bands, producers, rappers, singers and musicians, those upcoming artists that deserve the spotlight get a chance to shine.

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Pic: MJB Photography

You’re a master of bootlegs, refixes and remixes. What makes a good edit?

“One thing that’s really important is choice of tune. I sometimes go through four different tracks that I’m about to refix before I pick the right one. Especially for a refix, ‘cos it’s mainly chopping up the original track, it needs to be the right track in so many ways. The kick needs to be strong, sub-bass, there needs to be a good clap or snare that can be chopped up. In terms of bootlegs, I think fitting the original track into your style is really important. Sometimes there might be a tendency to just use original for the intro and then go straight into your sound, but I think combining your sound with the original track is important for making sure it comes together nicely.”

Most people know you as a producer/DJ, but I hear your first vocal release drops soon?

“Yeah I’m really excited about that! That’s dropping on 16th December and it’s with Razor who’s probably my favourite MC at the moment. It’s produced by Retrospect who’s a really sick producer. I’m hoping it’s the first of many, I’ve been playing about with freestyles for a laugh but I’m hoping next year to get properly into writing tunes and I’ve got so many grime instrumentals that I’m gunna try hop on. So yeah, that’s definitely an avenue I want to explore. I grew up on grime since I was nine or ten, so I’m really excited to see what happens with that stuff.”

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Pic: Sam Sibley
What encouraged you to record your Brighton Bars series?

“The first one was because of my mate Sam – big up Sam – he’s studying media production at the moment. I’ve been rapping for a laugh at gatherings and with my mates for a number of years. We did a few videos but none of them have seen the internet or anything. But it was snowing for the first one and he said that it’s such a good opportunity to make a video. There was the perfect spot and we had a speaker with us, so I just ran through some bars and it came out really nicely. I think that might still be my favourite one, the Snow Bars, ‘cos those bars are some of my best.”

Originally being from Oxford, what’s your perspective on the council’s cull of nightclubs?

“It’s definitely destroyed the scene in Oxford. The two main clubs for 18-22 year olds were probably Cellar and Purple Turtle and they’ve both been shut within the last eighteen months. Especially for me and so many other aspiring DJs, Cellar was such an important place to learn your trade. The vibe there as well was one of the best in the country that I’ve experienced, there’s nothing like it: proper low ceilings, really intimate, you felt like you were in the crowd even as you were DJing. I’m not gunna lie I was really emotional to see it go and I think it’s definitely a theme in the last two or three years all over the country. You see it in places like Manchester and Bristol, where these nightclubs that have such a legacy and cult following are being shut down, and it’s definitely damaging to the underground music scene for sure.”

Is that why you made ‘Oxford Is Killing Me’?

“Nah [laughs], well I sampled ‘New York is Killing Me’ and it was at a time over the Christmas holidays when I was bored in Oxford. I thought that title suited it so well ‘cos it’s the play on New York being such a big place whereas Oxford is such a small place. I thought it fit really nicely.”

What’s been your top career moment of 2019?

“That’s a tough one, I’ve been really happy with 2019. I think 2018, (although I had some really good moments), was a tough year musically for me. I was definitely going through a transition from the more bassline sort of stuff and was getting a lot of writer’s block with bassline. But this year I really think I’ve found my sound. I’d say the bars videos are definitely a highlight, and I think getting a wheel from Plastician at the Keep Hush event! That came out of nowhere and I still can’t believe it happened.”

How’re you feeling for your upcoming production clash against Lewi B?

“I am so excited for that. I’m not gunna lie it’s been very tough to prepare for. Basically, Beat Boss has quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final all in one night so you have to assume you’ll get to the final. You have to make three tracks per clash, so on top of all my deadlines for uni work, and I’ve had a mad amount of sets, it’s been stressful to prepare but I’m pretty happy with the stuff I’ve produced. But I’m definitely in for a tough ride ‘cos Lewi B is one of the best in the scene. He’s done stuff with P Money and JME to name a few, and he’s gunna come hard so I’m not sure what to expect, but I know it’ll be a fun one and I’m just gassed to get there.”

Is it the first production clash you’ve done?

“Yeah yeah it’s my first one and I haven’t really watched too many as well. I’ve watched quite a few Beat Boss things but apart from that I’m not really sure what to expect. And [laughs] I’m not too sure I’ll be that good on the mic in between tracks when you’ve got to cuss the other guy. I’m not that good at that kind of stuff but hopefully the beats will speak for themselves!”

Do you have a go-to set closer?

“Especially if I’m doing a later slot I try to keep my sets really high energy and mix up the genres while keeping the energy in the crowd throughout the whole set. But at the end I like to slow it down and maybe play more of a melody-based track just to see off the night. There’s an unreleased Sammy Virgi tune with Paige Eliza that’s melody-based but also hits really hard. I’ve been closing a lot of my sets with that recently ‘cos it’s the perfect way to end the night I feel.”

What’s next for Hamdi?

“2020 I’ve got a lot of big stuff coming. Literally so many different genres. I’m focusing a lot on dubstep and grime at the moment so you’ll see plenty of 140 stuff coming soon. I’ve got some garage bits, hopefully a couple more vocal releases as well and I’m hoping to start a mix series but I can’t say too much about that. But yeah, it’s 2020 and it’s gunna be a big year.”

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Pic: MJB Photography
Any final shout-outs or big-ups?

“I’ve got to big up this producer called King Monday because he’s really underrated and he’s producing some of the maddest stuff that I’ve heard recently but keeps slipping under the radar. He’s definitely one to watch. He’s gunna be huge in 2020 and 2021. Also shout out Burt Cope and Sammy Virgi every time – Oxford crew. And Southpoint – Brighton crew.”

Facebook: @HamdiOfficialMusic  Twitter: @hamdimusic

Soundcloud: /hamdiofficialmusic  Contact: hamdiman@hotmail.co.uk


Interviewed by: James Wijesinghe

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