Home Interviews Feature: Saeed Younan [Interview]

Feature: Saeed Younan [Interview]

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A world class globe-trotting DJ, a recording artist, a sought-after remix producer, and head of his own record label, Saeed Younan has excelled as a true artist in the global dance scene. Without showing complacency, Saeed Younan does not cease to amaze, always looking to astound. With a discography highlighted by releases on Beatfreak, Intec, Suara, Toolroom and his own Younan Music imprint, the Iraq born, US based artist continues to be on the cutting edge of the tech house sound. We had a chance to catch up with the Washington resident on the cusp of a new single for Dreaming Awake. Enjoy!

Hi Saeed, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are right now and what are your plans for the week.

Like most people, I’m hunkered down in my house in Washington DC, due to the virus outbreak. With no place to go and not much to do, except work on music in my studio and going for long trail walks outside.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

My love for DJing started in the late 80’s with the explosion of hip-hop music. I DJed all the high-school dances and all the house parties. That’s what I was known for, I was the goto person when it came to throwing a good party. In early 90’s just when I was about to graduate high school, I discovered electronic music. My friends took me to a house club in DC around 1990,we had to sneak in because we were under age, and that’s when I discovered house music, hip-house to be exact, and never turned back since.

The United States has really taken to electronic music over the last 20 years or so. How has growing up and living there shaped your sound and career?

I grew up in Washington DC. The percussive tribal sound and funky techno is very well part of the east coast club culture, ever since I can remember. That sound is very much represented in the way I produce music and how I DJ in clubs. For me, it’s always been about a sexy groove and driving chuggy beats. You can hear that in almost every track I have every produced.

Your productions are hugely energetic, very much on the party, peak time tip. It’s a sound you’ve stuck to while other DJs and artists tend to drift towards what is currently trendy. What is the current state of tech house and what do you want your music to convey to the listener?

Well, I try not to follow “trends”. I think that’s why I’ve been in this game and successful for over 20 years now. I’ve always trusted my gut instinct when it comes to making and playing music. And as I said earlier, I want to create an intimate and sexy vibe with my music, making tracks that are inviting to the dance floor with moving peaks and valleys.

Looking back over your career there are a plethora of big releases and blue-chip imprints, if you had to point to one that really helped you ‘make it’ so to speak what would that be and why?

Almost impossible for me to pinpoint one single track, when I have over 200 songs in my repertoire. I’ll name a few. My remix of “The Underground” by Celeda went to #1 on Billboard dance charts in the early 2000’s. My remix of “moody” was a massive hit and was somewhat of a game changer for vocal house tracks. “Yeah Ha” and “backroom honey” were also massive hits for me. Both landed at #1 on beatprot tech house and stayed there for weeks upon weeks! Annihilate which came out on Carl Cox imprint (Intec digital). Was also hug in that it got dropped numerous times at the closing of Space in Ibiza and big techno clubs all over Europe.

You have a new single out now on Dreaming Awake, tell us a bit about the track and how it showcases your currrent individualities.

My track “Two Left feed” is the perfect example of what my sound is about. It completely portray how I layer and program beats in the studio. How I chop and edit spoken words or vocal, to create those peaks and valleys we spoke about earlier.

There is a sensational set of remixers on the release as well, with DJ Dan & Ido, Lee Reynolds and Treavor Moontribe all contributing amazing versions. How did you end up settling on this crew to re-invent the track?

I was happy that Treavor (label owner) and I chose an eclectic group of producers who took the original in varies directions / genres. I believe we accomplished that in this release. And we ended up with a verity of versions that works for almost every electronic music DJ.

What made Dreaming Awake the right home for this project?

I’ve known Treavor for years! We’ve worked together on few remix projects in the past, and I am confident that he’s going to put his heart and soul in this new label of his. It completely felt right to go with his label on this release. No question about that.

What are your go to tools in the studio and what featured heavily on this track? Could you walk us through the production process on it?

I’m all about simplicity when it comes to gear, now-a-days. I use to have a studio full of outboards and never got much done, because I was fiddling with knobs all day/night trying to create the perfect sound. Came to realize that there is no such thing as “the perfect sound”. And the less gear I have the more productive my workflow became. So I’m all in the box now, using Logic pro x as my main goto DAW, with a few favorite soft-synths. I create a lot of my basslines using Papen’s Subboom Bass. I do a lot of sample chopping with the EXS24 sampler, inside logic. I’m an old school head when it comes to producing, I use a lot samples that I crush, chop, squeeze and manipulate, to come up with cool and interesting parts.

You’re Younan Music imprint has been running for roughly two decades if memory serves, tell us about your vision for it and how it’s changed over the years.

I launch my first label (All vinyl label) in the late 90’s called Addictive Records. Around early 2000’s when vinyl sales took a dive due to mp3 and file sharing, I closed the vinyl label and launch Younan Music, an all digital rec. label and one of the first in the U.S. This was right around the same time beatport launched it’s first website. The vision for the label was clear. I wanted to create a label designed to showcase up and coming artists that need to be recognized for their talent and creativity. Because in today’s increasingly cutthroat music industry, many of those producers go unnoticed. It was our job at YOUNAN MUSIC to give them an outlet and open doors for them.

What advice would have for an artist hoping to sign their music to Younan? Both in terms of presentation and stylistically, what are you looking for from a new artist on the label?

We look for professionalism when it comes to their presentation and approach. Have their own unique style and quality of production. We are looking to sign anything that is deep, funky, groovy, tribal and percussive driven House, tech house and techno. We also LOVE original vocal tracks in the styles I’ve listed.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from?

Most of my inspiration come from playing clubs and festivals, and watching the reaction of the crowd to certain tracks or songs. I try to convey that in my production. I also get a lot of my inspiration just being out in nature, taking long walks, meditating or hiking.

Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?

I would have to say again, my remix of “moody”. Because I see the smiles it puts on everyone’s face on the dance floor, every time I play it.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?

I get sent a lot of demos for my label and promos from other labels. which is a great way to stay ahead of the curve, when it comes to playing stuff that know body has and standing out from the rest of the crowded DJ space.

Current five favorite tracks?

Saeed Younan, David Cujino – The Book

Saeed Younan – Two left Fee

DJ Wady, MoonDark – Buggy beat

Groove salvation – People move on

DJ lugo – knowing your mind

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? You’ve obviously lost gigs because of it and the impact it’s having on travelling DJs is hugely significant. Will you be doing any in studio live stream sets?

Yes, it’s been very tough for us DJ’s and entertainment folks. I’ve partnered up with a venue in D.C called El Techo and the network, Dance Trippin TV. We are producing a weekly Live stream from el techo, to everyone at home. We also bring in local D.C DJ’s to stream as well and make it a community thing. You can catch the live stream via Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ElTechoDC/ every Tuesday and Saturday. Or specifically for my stream, you can catch it at https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSaeedYounan

What can we expect from you for the rest 2020? Any releases or special dates we should be looking out for?

My debut album title “MORPH” was due out this summer along with a world-wide tour, but all that has been postponed due to the virus outbreak, so we’ll see what the rest of the year will bring. But I’m staying positive and hope everyone is also staying safe and positive, till we overcome this rough road.

‘Two Left Feet’ is out now on Dreaming Awake, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/3aoSxUg

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