Interview: Richy Ahmed

Richy Ahmed is at the forefront of UK house music. Having played a major part in the British house music’s recent renaissance, he takes cues from disco, techno, funk, electro and hiphop. Hailing from South Shields in the north of the UK, Richy continues to make regular appearances at events across Britain whilst touring internationally. His hardworking approach has seen him play everywhere from BPM Mexico and Blue Marlin Dubai to Berlin’s infamous Panorama Bar. His Ibiza presence is undeniable; this season, he held down his well-known residency at Paradise, DC-10 whilst also becoming one of seven all-night guests to take over the Space Terrace for elrow. With so many high profile gigs, he earned himself a spot in the now defunct Resident Advisor’s Top 100 DJ poll three years in a row. he will be back in the country this coming weekend and we were lucky enough to chat to the legend before his arrival…

What was the music scene like in South Shields growing up, to my understanding you grew up on a diet of hip-hop and Rnb music?

Yep, I did. However, there wasn’t really much in the South Shields music scene, it was all happy hardcore – that’s what all the kids listened to and they still do now. There was a club called the Afterdark, I used to love going there. I loved the New Monkey as well, they had all the MC’s MCing over the happy hardcore. It’s funny when here people play it but I think the music itself I absolutely awful. I did love the MC’s and I still do but without them I couldn’t listen to that music. MC Stompin was one of my favourites and I still have some of his tapes. My mates still listen to all of that now. 

Your earlier releases are on some of the most well renowned labels in the industry, Hot Creations, Strictly Rhythm and Rinse Recordings. Do you often listen back to your older works for inspiration when producing new works or do you leave those productions in the past?

I leave them in the past. I don’t want to try and re-do it. My sound has been progressing and I’m getting better as a producer. There’s no comparison with what I was making in the past to what I’m making now.

Do you think being part of the Hot Creations family helped shape your sound as an artist?

Yes and no. A lot of the stuff I was playing when I started playing with them was house-infused and they weren’t really into that proper house sound. Playing with them obviously influences the way you play, but I was always into that old school Chicago sound. 

You reference a lot of your music inspiration coming from artists not within the realm of dance music, artists like The Cure and Marvin Gaye. Do you think that broadening the genres you listen to has expanded your knowledge of music and therefore ability to produce music?

Yes definitely, especially with the ‘Love Birds’ material I’m working on now. The new track that I’m working on at the moment is based on psychedelic rock from the 60’s and 70’s. I think it’s great to find inspiration from other genres outside of just house music. On my vinyl only release, I got the idea for that from a Jim Morrison record.    

How do your works usually come into fruition, do you start with a melody or a sample first or do you start with drums and build from there?

Usually I like to start with a groove. If I’m doing something more disco, then there will usually be another track that you want to base it around. When I’m working on something that’s completely original, I start with the beats and the bass and build from there. If you get the drums right from the start, then the rest is so much easier. If you don’t get the beats right, then the whole track takes ages to finish; it never sounds right. 

Your record label FourThirtyTwo a name, which is an ode to the level that is allegedly in tune with the earth’s vibrations – 432hZ. Has that business venture changed your relationship with the music industry?

Not at all. Obviously, I’m more of a boss now and I’m dealing with more stuff. I guess it makes people look at you in a different light, but I dealt with that with Hot Creations to an extent to.

In continuation with these old school production methods, how do you feel about the intersection of the old and the new? Are you strictly a hardware kind of guy or do you appreciate the relevance of software in the modern era?

Yes, of course I think software is important. My studio is mainly analogue, I’ve got a lot of hardware, but you still have to have good software; in terms of plugins and compressors etc. Especially for EQing, software is important as a decent EQ is expensive to buy as hardware. I always think it’s good to have good bits of kit that you can rely on for a good sound, rather than relying on software; you can literally feel the difference, particularly with synths and drums. I couldn’t just do it all on a computer, I think it’s harder to be honest; you’ve got to work harder at it to get it sounding class. When you have really good hardware, the sound and the warmth is always there, you can just turn it on and jam.

You’re returning to Australia this summer helping us ring in 2019, what can we expect from you in the coming year?

You can expect a lot of new music from me. I’ve got an EP coming out on Objektivity, I have a remix coming out for Lulu James, along with another vinyl only release. An EP on Hot Creations is expected and two EP’s on my own label along with a load of amazing remixes. I’m really pushing the music this year, I have a lot of stuff ready to go and signed. There’ll also be a lot more sets and FourThirtyTwo parties; working very hard. 

Tour Dates

Saturday 29th December: Faction, Sydney

Sunday 30th December: Beyond the Valley, VIC

Sunday 30th December: Revolver, Melbourne

Monday 31st December: MCA, Sydney

Tuesday 1st January: Habitat Garden Party, Perth