An Interview with Amir Hussain

Over the last 3 years Amir Hussain has stamped his mark on the Trance Scene. He has had the privilege of DJing on the same line ups with some huge names such as PVD, Sean Tyas, Thrillseekers and Lange to name but a few. His trance productions have been supported by massive names including Armin van Buuren, Markus Schulz, Aly & Fila, Sean Tyas and more.

We caught up with Amir to discuss DJing, producing and of course his beloved Newcastle United!

So Amir, tell us a little but about yourself?

Sure thing – I’m a 26 year old, born & raised in Bahrain who enjoys music, food & football way waaaaay too much.

I enjoying making people laugh when I’m not making them dance. I’m the kind of person who would go on and make a bad joke even if there is a slight chance of anyone laughing.

I don’t take life too seriously nor like to act stuck up towards anyone, I take no joy in that. In fact, i’m probably too nice for my own good 🙂

I understand your early passion was Rock music, how did you discover trance?

That is correct. I suppose I always knew of Trance music, it was always somewhere, be it the radio or the dance music charts on MTV and such.. however I did not know the exact subgenre actually being “Trance” until way later.

My journey started from appreciating Electronic music via Electro/Synthrock bands like Depeche Mode on TV followed by going onto YouTube searching for “Techno Music” – this is what it was to me, it was all branched under that.

What made you start DJing and how old were you?

I was 20 I think. The same passion that I have today – sharing what I think are good tunes with the world. I don’t like being predictable, I hardly like playing anthems or overplayed classics, or God forbid even worse, mashups of them.

There is something quite special about playing a hidden gem and people wondering “what was this tune?!”.

I bought a pair of CDJ-400’s and DJM-400 from this American online store when I was still living in my home country of Bahrain before I moved to Britain & the rest is history.

This could have started and ended in disaster though because stupid me had forgotten the American voltage being 110V and I could smell something burning the minute I started to switch it on and have my first mix. Oops!!!

Luckily the mixer had an in-built fuse and replacing it cost peanuts, onwards and upwards from there, with a voltage converted of course. What an idiot!

What or who were your early passions and influences?

Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Markus Schulz, Sean Tyas, Simon Patterson. These guys were pioneers at the time I was getting into Trance and still remain to be.

What was your first live DJ set, how did you get it and how did it go?

Hahahaha, my first ever “gig” if you want to call it that was playing to a pool party during high school with all my mates there, everyone was too drunk to care about the music.

It was either that or this other “party” during high school on new years, my mate kept inviting me to this party that was supposed to have “plenty of sluts, dude”. I agreed to DJ and it turned out to be an Asian family reunion.

I still played some music, it did not go down well, very very awkward haha..

Otherwise my first actual gig was before I released any Trance music not long after I moved to Newcastle, playing at Cosmic Ballroom alongside Lange.

What’s your preference, Vinyl, CD’s or Digital?

I have never mixed on Vinyl, this was before my time. I got into DJ’ing in 2009 & everything I had wanted to play was in digital format.

So to answer your question, digital. Remember having to carry a CD wallet? I don’t miss that. I don’t want to carry a crate of vinyl either. Having all the tracks on a USB is convenient – and in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter where you play your tracks from, or what you play them on. If you turn up, and the music you play entertains the crowd, you have done your job. Sometimes people go too far and forget that this is the essence of DJ’ing. Its about THEM just as much as it is about you, if not more.

What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?

I go through my promos that I am lucky to receive in my inbox on a weekly basis. I ask the producers who are my friends, or ones I am huge fans of for new tracks that I can play. I also look out for what my favourite DJ’s have been playing, as well as the tracks that are out right now. After that I assort them in key and sort their cue points so I have more time during the set to intereact with the crowd, amongst other things.

“Amir’s set from Trance Sanctuary’s 7th Birthday After Party at Egg, London”

How would you describe your sound?

I don’t have one sound – I like to alternate between harder uplifting with a lot of vocals & full on tech. This has been reflected throughout my discography. I am looking to incoroporate some Progressive in there ASAP – really digging this sound more than ever at the minute, always have!

To be successful these days it’s crucial to set yourself apart from other DJ’s, what makes you different?

Don’t be predictable, you need to make sure your live sets are mixed very cleanly. I cannot stand catching high profile DJ’s mixing terribly. You need to be a professional really, I don’t like getting in a state (drunk / etc.) during or before a set. After the set is a different story, whatever goes then goes. At the end of the day the punters are paying good money to come have a great night, give it to them – leave them talking about your set on the night and after that!

I guess I like to be professional about it and always to go out there to have absolutely no mercy for the dancefloor. I want to be someone who is seen as an educator, rather than someone who plays it safe. No pun intended.

Which DJs are you influenced by now?

These two more than anyone else at this moment in time – John Askew & Guy J.

What’s your favourite track at the moment?

Trance – Eugene Luu, Danny Fathom & Brandon Michaels – The Mercenaries (Extended Mix) <- What a banger, someone pass the mash!

Progressive – Nordfold, Budakid – She Talks (2018)

Totally impossible to answer I know but have you got a favourite track of all time?

Not for me, no. The track that changed it all for me. Sean Tyas – Lift.

What set during your career has been your favourite so far?

Quite a few.. Melbourne 2015, FSOE Manchester 2016 with Liam Wilson, Equinox in Leicester was great.. but I think Grotesque in Rotterdam back in 2016 was the most amazing one.

What event would you love to play at, and why?

Dreamstate – looks absolutely amazing, Trance really is exploding in the States. I also can’t wait to play Luminosity in June.

What would be your dream line up to play on?

Every lineup is a dream lineup, it is a priveledge to be in my position doing this because I have a passion for playing out music.

What bookings do you have lined up for 2018 so far?

Quite a Dutch summer this one. Luminosity in June. Grotesque in June & July for Full Moon festival & Electronic Family respectively. Quest4Trance in August & Anomaly in Birmingham in August too. Some more in store, but awaiting confirmation 🙂

How and why did you get in to producing music?

I didn’t, this was not my interest nor my passion whatsoever. I thought there was enough amazing music around that had me amazed by it to go and play it in the first place.

The only reason I entertained the idea of picking up production and learning what I can (mind you this was right before I started University) – was because it was the thing that needed to be done to get more gigs as a DJ.

What I can do, I do. What I can pick out, I pick out. The rest of the work is alongside the engineer I work with.

“Amir’s latest release with Dark Fusion on VANDIT Records – Alpine”

What are you working on at the moment?

A collaboration with the legendary Ronski Speed.

What software and hardware do you use?

I use Ableton – this is what I also use to edit sets after they are recorded as well.

Talk us through what you do when you start writing a new track and how does it evolve from your initial idea? Do you start with a melody and work it from there?

I draw inspiration from other tracks that are around and try to make sure the end product from my end will have a twist to it.

No, not a melody, always straight from the intro and let the vibe of the track up until the breakdown dictate the melody.

What track was the first one you had signed and how did that feel?

Adliya back in 2013 – I remember waiting to send this out and kept checking my mailbox again and again. Bad idea, don’t do this. Finish a track, send it out, move onto the next project as you await a response.

You’ve done a few collaboration with other artists, who have you enjoyed working with most and why?

I have to say, this has to go to both collaborations with my good friend Allen Watts. Both those tracks really made an impact and smashed it out of the park.

Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

Magnus – I really do love that guy’s sound. I think a fusion together could be very interesting!

Who are your favourite producers and why?

My favourite producers at the minute are Alex Wright, Chris Schweizer, Cid Inc. & James Dymond.

Out of all the music you have produced which track are you most proud of and why?

Until this day, To the Lost & Lucky Strike remain to be my favourite releases. I would probably pick “To the Lost” as this was dedicated to my grandfather who passed away not long before, that one did get a lot of support. Nice to see.

Do you think it’s imperative that DJ’s these days produce their own tunes?

I could personally care less – I think a good DJ is a good DJ regardless of whether he produces music or not. Obviously tracks and production are the most important thing but there is far far more to it these days than producing a track.

Say there’s a really good DJ, amazing at everything but production, this DJ goes and works alongside an engineer for a track – I wouldn’t hold that against them, in fact some of the best DJ’s/all-round artists in the scene follow this route.

Lets just put it this way – I would rather see an excellent DJ who can’t produce rather than an excellent producer who can’t DJ (or is a crap one).

What do you personally consider to be the pivotal moments in your career so far?

Moving to the UK, being in a continent where a scene actually exists and putting myself out there.

Learning to generally be more out there and showing my face at events more, networking and PR like this is so vital.

If you could follow in the footsteps of one legendary DJ / Producer, who would it be?

I don’t wish to follow anyones footsteps. I am happy to create my own journey and learn from my mistakes.

You do a monthly show called Step In to My World (SIMW), what made you start doing this?

As the current episode this month is 43, the answer is 43 months ago. Some artists don’t have a radio show nor see the point. For me this is an important channel that is part of building your brand.

Look at Armin and A State of Trance. Tell me that isn’t a brand?

Over the past few years we have seen a number of clubs and club nights close down as well as some club nights being resurrected. Where do you see the club scene going in the next few years?

I take these predictions with a grain of salt. If I am totally honest with you I do not keep paying attention to the scene so much when I’m not playing, I feel I am too busy with other aspects of my life.

What’s the music scene like in Bahrain and how does it compare to the UK for its night live?

There is a night life here but people don’t go for the music, well most don’t. They go for the drink and the women.

For those that have never been, what is the trance scene like in Bahrain?

We have the annual big Trance gig, but otherwise there is no scene Trance scene in Bahrain unfortunately, despite a good amount of people enjoying Trance.

Which event or venue in the world would you love to play at, which you haven’t had the chance to so far?

I’d love to play in Japan one day, always been on my bucket list. Dreamstate in the USA would be amazing as well.

Do you think Trance has the ability to remain popular and relevant in modern society?

Sure – but the scene needs to be more inclusive. Sometimes I feel Trance is happy to be reclused from the rest of society because of the way it looks down on other music and people who don’t understand Trance.

I don’t mean to be controversial but I think for a scene that is a #TranceFamily – it can be extremly cliquey, bitter and toxic. Well, maybe because I see some things that other don’t.

Not a bother really at the end of the day – our love for the music goes above all of it, at the end of the day nothing is perfect.

Your fans will be aware you are an avid Newcastle United supporter, how did you start supporting them?

Hahaha – I believe there is no way for anyone not to notice this given my obsession with them & football.

I started supporting them back in 2005 I believe, my P.E teacher in middle school was a Geordie. Add that and the film “Goal” came about at the time, it was a toss up between Newcastle United, Everton & West Ham. I believe I made the right choice, they are a club that I have always associated with as one of potentials that is held back by external factors.. kind of like me.

You must be happy with their current form and the job that Rafa is doing?

He’s a world class manager. He has coached average players to be a compact effective unit, to become better. The team spirit at the camp is impeccable. I have a man crush on the guy, I have no shame in admitting this.

Hope our c*nt of an owner backs him during the summer or he’s gone. For me he is one of the best managers we’ve had in a long time and has the potential to take us places again if backed properly.

Apart from Alan Shearer who is your favourite Newcastle player of all time?

Tough one – I would probably say a toss up between Noberto Solano or Lauren Robert, both of these guys had impeccable skill on a deadball.

What does 2018 hold for you both in regards to DJing and Producing?

A return of my older tech sound, its been a while coming! As a DJ, some exciting gigs where I have the pleasure to grow my name further and meet old & new faces along the way. Fun times!

Special Question from your mate Alex Carter ha ha –
If you ever need the toilet whilst you’re playing a set, what do you do?

Hi Alex! Make sure I cue up a really REALLY long track to mix in next, mix it in then make a run to the toilet! Haha.


Massive thank you to Amir for catching up with Liz from On The Sesh, we can’t wait for your set at Anomaly in August!

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