For number seventeen, we have Ahmad Khaliq aka Barren Sector serving up a highly compelling 4x4 odyssey that makes you long for giant speakers and a space to lose yourself in.
You might have heard Ahmad's music through his vital contributions in bands like Amateur Takes Control and T-REX. His recent remix of TAV Records artist Intriguant's track, 'Your Love' from 'Spirits' (AV003LP) is a whole other thing, and really caught our attention. Have a listen to find out why:
His meticulous attention to detail is apparent in his selections too, and with this mix, it's met with an astute sense of energy, emotion and intent. Press play for a well paced journey through that ever elusive zone between deep listening and body moving, and scroll down for the interview & tracklist.
Thanks for doing this mix! Can you speak a bit about how you approached it?
Thank you for having me! It was equally challenging and fun curating this mix for you guys and the listeners.
I thought of how could i bridge the gap between deep listening and body moving without compromising my sound. I wanted to showcase my style not only for the floor but taking care of the general listeners as well.
The mix started out with a track called ‘Zero Is My Country’ by Underground Resistance. An instrumental track with some post apocalyptic components. In my mind, it tells a story about the current political and environmental distress that is happening around the world. The second track offered a sense of hope, freedom and peace.
The third track perfectly depicts the state of our minds at this point, at least for me.
'Time is running out for us
But you just move the hands upon the clock
You throw coins in a wishing well, wake up
You just move your hands upon the clock'
- The Clock - Thom Yorke
Masterfully remixed by Surgeon
The rest of the mix carries itself. Going back and forth with moody and utopian elements, sci-fi textures, accompanied by tough grooves. For me, it's a demonstration of a certain shade of techno that I like. Its a reflective and subjective genre and at the end of the day, I hope that im able to relay some messages, told or untold stories through this set.
That opening track got us hooked! What’s the story with that one?
I needed a certain kind of vibe to start off with since I'm DJ-ing for myself with no energy to feed off from. It has a beautiful track and all the elements that represents the sort of theme and journey I'm going for. It was something i had in mind for a while, to start off a set with a down tempo moody tune. This mix series gave me an opportunity to do that, so thank you!
Let’s hear a bit about your journey into electronic music. How’d you get interested in it and what inspired the fascination?
My two sisters would turn on MTV and the radio 24/7 back in the 90s and 2000s. I thank them for that. I chanced upon artists such as The Prodigy, Massive Attack, Kylie Minogue, Bjork, Moby, stuff like that. It was weird and uncomfortable, in a good way, being exposed to all those styles as a kid. It was new territory for me but was I curious with the sounds that came with it. It was almost impossible to produce that on real instruments. I grew up appreciating those artist and they've been present in my playlist eversince.
2011 was a breakthrough year for me in my electronic music journey. I discovered the album aMOTION by A Perfect Circle, Burial's Untrue and selections of Minimal/Detroit techno through a friend. The unheard frequencies, the dystopian elements, they speak to me like no other, in a way, relatable and understood. It made me feel a certain way.
I was very fond of it. Spent a lot of hours researching and digging online over the next couple of years that I fell down a rabbit of hole of techno. After which it is was all about educating myself. I spent every winter travelling around Europe, to breathe in the culture, to understand what it truly meant and represents. More importantly, it thought me deep and critical listening, appreciating the subtleties and it has definitely improved me as a musician, 100%.
We really like what you’ve done with Intriguant’s track on his remix compilation for ‘Your Love.’ Could you tell us about your approach here?
Thank you! I’m quite familiar with the track, prior to his remix announcement. I spent a few days listening to the track religiously, trying to tap into Louis’s thought process and how he'd go about writing it. I wanted to capture the core and essence of the song and create my own rendition of it. It couldn't be just a track for the dancefloor. The more I hear it, the less dancy it became.
I thought to myself, its an emotionally-haunting track, in my head at least. I ended up using just the vocals as a foundation, experimenting with counter synth melodies and let the music flow. That was pretty much it. The beats and everything else came into place nicely. It was more of a brainstorming process.
What’s next for Barren Sector?
I’m just writing, doing sound designs and practicing production daily. I’m addicted to it. Even if it’s for a 15 minute break at work. There are tracks that i really love and there are tracks that mean nothing to me. Of course, I sincerely do hope to release something this year. Im little bit careful about that. No pressure to myself. I just wanna release solid music, you know? I do hope to collaborate with other artists, doing sound design work, a couple of remix projects if an opportunity arises. Time to time, I’ll practice on vinyls or dig for new music. On a side note, I’m working on productions for a bedroom indie artist and I’m having a lot of fun with that.
Oh yes, I’m also collaborating with a good friend of mine and a contemporary dance group for a live improv session in late April. Its gonna be exciting and hope it'll be recorded.
Zero Is My Country - Underground Resistance
Movements (Chapter III) - Leon Vynehall
The Clock (Surgeon Remix) - Thom Yorke, Surgeon
Processed Hammer - Franz Jäger
Change Mode - Fergus Sweetland
Erudite - TWR72
Beta 01 - Pfirter & Oliver Rosemann
Atomo - Divide
Blade Runner (Zadig Remix) - Woo York
Litter - Deauwd
Aeon - Jeroen Search
Functional - Slam
Escape From The Echo Room - D. Dan
CLR 02 - Umek
Minimize - Truncate
Black Star - Patrick Walker
Surveyor - Dustmite
Ttfo - Troy
Positive Education (Shlomo Remix) - Slam
Occino - Nørbak
Pattern One - Cleric
Ensemble (Anthony Linell Remix) - Par Grindvik
Zoom Out - Eric Fetcher
Tilt - Dustmite