Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up and where you live now?
I’m really bad at introducing myself but well let’s do it. I’m Hadj Sameer aka Samiroquai, I’m 27, I was born and grew up in the Parisian suburb and lived in London too, for a while. I’m originally French Algerian and Turkish. I’m still currently living in the Parisian suburb right now and trying to finish my research and biomedical engineering studies.
How would you say the music scene differs between France and the UK?
I’m actually French but had the opportunity to spend some time in UK when I was younger. My best friend is also originally half English/Irish and we’ve always been fascinated by UK scene, and it’s multiple musical roots and influences. In my opinion, the musical background is mostly influenced and made by the several waves of immigration respectively known by France and UK countries. They have their own identities sharpened with some musical genres, for example let’s say French cheesy disco or rap, and UK dubstep, grime…
From listening to your mixes you seem to have a very wide sphere of influence. Can you talk us through your musical influences, whether it be specific artists or the environment (home or city) you grew up in had on you pursuing music as a career?
A part of my musical background is closely related to what my parents used to collect as records and tapes or listen to, meaning jazz, disco and North African music (traditional or folkloric) for my dad, and middle-eastern, for my mum. They gave me a solid basis which allowed me to keep digging on it, and by extension to discover progressively the ascending musical currents that we know well today as electronic music even if I don’t like these terms which are meaningless and subjective.
So to be honest, music was a long-time company for me, but also a therapy and an outlet to all the rational things I was doing along side in my medical research and scientific courses.
I managed to find a more or less fragile balance in between sciences and music as a yin and a yang and I can’t actually deprive myself from one part or another.
Is music your full time career and if not, how do you balance work with music?
It’s actually quite hard to maintain this balance simply because it’s generally frowned upon to do, work and flourish ourselves in two completely different fields here in France. And through the years I’ve spent in UK and by interacting with foreigners I figured out that it was something more common abroad.
I have a monthly residency show on Rinse France Radio and none of my laboratory colleagues or supervisors are aware of that.
What venues did you regularly attend when growing up and getting into music?
Following on from this, what venues or events do you look forward to playing at whether it be due to the setting, crowd or the promoter’s attention to detail?
I am not very demanding in terms of venues or crowd or promoters. I am professional and I just want to interact with passionate and professional people. Being professional for me relies on paying the artist you want to book, giving him good equipment, and last but not least drawing in a respectful crowd.
Through several gigs I’ve had so many people do things like requesting that I play tracks, these are usual things but they need to educate themselves and respect the artist and the set that they are supposedly attending.
How would you say the music scene differs from the various cities and countries that you tour and which would you say have influenced you, whether it be personally or musically?
For me music is the best cultural vector there is. Music is the reflection of a historical heritage that is specific to each city, country, continent or whatever. But music is also paradoxically the best way to cross the borders in correlation with the different migratory flows that our species has known. Music is finally the most subjective and identity way of gathering people through its plurality.
I had the opportunity to be raised in a multicultural family and this resulted in a much richer musical environment as well as an open-mindedness to others.
Among these several influences, the most important ones for me are (North) Africa, the Middle-East, and UK, plus particular cities such as Chicago or Detroit for their own heritage brought to the electronic music, and club scenes.
Cassettes in particular hold a sense of mystery as you never know what listening experience the DJ is going to provide you with, your cassette for the Trilogy Tapes being a great example. How did this mix come about, how did you come up with the idea behind the mix, and what does it mean to you?
TTT is one of the most influencing labels I know, graphically, artistically and obviously musically. The whole label is run only by one guy, Will Bankhead, who is a Don and one of the best human beings I know. I worked for him as an intern let’s say and I followed his label for years. So for me it was a form of consecration to be part of this label as an artist by making a mixtape. I consider myself more as a digger/collector rather than a producer, which is easily translatable in the way I am mixing for example. I always aspired to make an Afro Caribbean mixtape and TTT as a hybrid label was the best opportunity for me. He accepted and enjoyed it, which is especially glorifying because I know that my tape isn’t like any other previously released on this label.
The only negative is that as it’s my first “official release” people could consider that I’m an African music DJ and that I don’t have any other kinds of music in my records collection, but it’s actually the opposite. I’m musically wide, and for me it’s not a matter of genre but rather a matter of enjoyment and the way I would like or not like the music. So because of this, I have less gig opportunities as I’m wrongly considered as an African music DJ. So I’m now trying to be more eclectic in my mixes such as the one I’ve sent to you.
Which producers and labels stand out to you at the moment, and do you feel deserve more attention?
In terms of influences, I obviously can’t quote them all but lets say as artists/music producers/djs (and globally talking, meaning the artist, its image, and the human being himself behind): Moodymann, Ben Ufo, Will Bankhead, Madlib and Four Tet.
Concerning the labels, Firecracker recordings, Awesome Tapes From Africa.
Who are some of the DJs garnering your attention at the moment?
Let’s say Beautiful Swimmers because of their dynamic and eclectic way of mixing as a pair.
Thank you very much for putting a mix together for us. Can you tell us about the idea or theme behind it?
The mix is quite different than the ones I usually make for a radio show. I tried to pull out some records from my collection with an idea of instinctively putting them together in order to create an ambiance. You have a jazz funk opening track followed by some deep spiritual electronic music songs and some percussion. It does represent my various tastes and influences through a one-hour musical journey.
What can we look forward to from you over the coming months and year?
I don’t really want to spoil anything, first of all because studies are my priorities but let’s say one of two other mixtapes (maybe self released, lets see) to be aired soon and hopefully and optimistically a record in early to mid 2018.
Big thanks to Hadj for sparing some time to answer a few questions and even more so for putting together number 77 in the Mantissa Mix Series!
Be sure to have a listen and keep an eye on him using the links below…
Hadj Sameer on: