In a first of a series of interviews, following up on our ‘Foreign Base’ article about Indian artists based abroad, we get in touch with Amsterdam’s award winning Dj and Minitech Recordings boss, Faroukh Hasham aka Minitech Project for an in depth conversation about his journey that has led him on to be one of the key figures in the Amsterdam techno circuit.
Thanks for speaking with us Faroukh. It's certainly a very difficult time for artists currently with the whole Covid situation, how are you keeping yourself active or busy during this period?
My pleasure guys. I usually had my time fully occupied pre COVID with producing music, touring, gigging, releasing artists on my label, promoting Minitech events around the world, and my weekly radio show with little time left to dive into anything new.
Almost as soon as the lockdown began I was contacted to perform for several live streams and thus began diving into the world of live streaming as well as hosting live streams online and got quite far with it! I couldn’t be happier to have brought on some fabulous content to Techno fans on my platform during this time including streams from Dubfire, Ramiro Lopez, Umek, Christian Smith, Loco & Jam, Mladen Tomic, Sinisa Tamamovic, Agent Orange, The Exchange India discussions, and a whole bunch of Minitech Recordings streaming artists in collaboration with brands like Tronic, Kitty Su, Submerge, Kroniq, and more.
I also recently hosted our first “at home” label showcase together with Clubbing TV and VH1 which was televised in 50 countries on broadcast television and supported online by Antisocial, Submerge, Prism, Larive, Summer House/Auro, Subkltr, Radio FG and more which was a lot to put together with all the videos shot and edited across 3 continents, and was overwhelmed and humbled with the positive response from all the collaborators.
As for producing music, initially I found lack of inspiration for banger warehouse Techno with the whole future on hold, which also led to me producing some more downtempo electronica which is what I personally felt like listening to for a new side project which should be very exciting . More news on that as it develops, and I’m back to making some new Techno bangers now already as well.
When did you start djing? Do you have any fond memories of your first professional steps into this field? An event memory perhaps that will always remain with you till the very end?
I started DJing in the late 90s. My fondest steps early on were always just getting control of better sound systems and meeting so many like minded souls all bitten by the same obsessions, and i think that’s still what i also always look forward to the most. Too many individual event memories will go with me till the very end and beyond to list 🙂
You are currently based in Amsterdam right now. What led you to shift?
I have lived in many cities across 3 continents growing up and travelled extensively doing party research for years. I was staying in the UK before moving to Amsterdam, and at the time i had visited the city several times whenever time and funds would permit. I was on a complete break from performing as a DJ for a couple of years looking for a base to setup a small production studio and kick off in a new musical direction and Amsterdam had the perfect mix of ingredients. Geographical convenience, a thriving and mature club and festival culture for inspiration, an extremely logical and sensible society, and a fabulous cannabis culture to maintain a healthy mental state. In 2007 i was doing assistant artist/crew management on a Burning Man like festival called Robodock in Amsterdam for 45days, and then used the opportunity to find further work and organize my production base
How was the integration process for you? Did you already know some people from the electronic music community that made it easier for you?
When I moved to Amsterdam I didn’t know a soul in the local scene and was just emerging from a complete break in DJing for a few years to setup a secure studio and production base. So I just integrated completely from scratch and climbed my way up.
Let's talk about your label, Minitech recordings that is on a solid and steady rise in the techno world. How did you come about starting the label and was there any particular motive in terms of direction? How would you describe your label sound?
I have already been integral to promoting several artists, DJs, Clubs,Labels, party concepts, and local scenes for the past 20 years but my work and efforts were often overlooked and sometimes processes and potentials are more challenging to reach with a lot of people involved. I wanted to take all that experience and move things forward under a brand where everything could grow more effectively and I could also publicly show my involvement in quality things I am happy to promote and stand behind. I also felt this would allow me to provide even more to the industry and create more opportunities and platforms effectively..
What has been the most fruitful part of running the label and what challenges do upcoming labels have to step up to going into the new decade?
The most fruitful part is definitely having complete creative liberty and ability to adapt instantly without delays within an organization so the sky is the limit. The main challenges we face upcoming and already for a while have been monetization for the incredible amount of time invested in the needful.
An artist from your label that we should keep an eye out for.
Stoked is really on fire at the moment
You are an integral part of the Amsterdam techno circuit having played some of the best venues and events for a long time. What makes the scene there stand out for you compared to other places?
For me Amsterdam has one of the most mature raving scenes and culture. People have been appreciating it for several generations already making a party lifestyle very acceptable in society and the vibe spans more from love of dance and music and less from ego and violent behavior. It’s really normal for people to lead a 9-5 lifestyle and hold respectable jobs and have a heavy raving weekend. It’s also normal for families to accept this, and today’s party generation there might even bump into their parents or even grandparents at a festival ! This makes for a very well educated and appreciative local audience and expats and tourists also appreciate this adding to the magic. On the flipside they are really spoiled with so much going on all the time and the best names playing every week with amazing productions that the expectations from the audience is extremely high to make an impression and almost nothing is a big deal.
A lot of people from India are now travelling to ADE almost every year religiously. We've been asked this question several times as to whether as a budding artist, is it important to be present at the conference besides the parties and if it is really worth the investment. You have had a really long presence with the organisation over the years. What is your take on it?
I have a long history with ADE since 2008 in fact long before I had any presence at all. I bought an all access pass in 2008 and attended several conferences,, Amsterdam’s Gouden Kabouter awards in Paradiso (where I would eventually go on to be awarded the favourite DJ award 9 years later), as well as several large scale events including Awakenings Gashouder.
In 2009 i did the same and gained more knowledge from conferences,attended the premier of “Making Contact” with Richie Hawtin and the whole Minus crew involved in the tour to answer questions post premier, and went in more experienced to also sign my first EP as “Minitech Project” to the legendary Bonzai Imprint from Belgium, so you could say that Minitech Project was officially born at ADE 2009.
Since then my presence has just grown stronger and stronger at ADE and I have had countless official performances (often 2 per day!) , hosted numerous showcases for my label and others, provided platform and bridges for several labels and venues, and spoken on discussion panels as well. Needless to say the wealth of knowledge in these 5 days in ADE 2008 were so insightful and inspirational that it might take years otherwise to make the same leaps and bounds personally. I would like to add however that I know several people that just get stoned and wasted and don’t leave their rooms much, or come out of it with much, so it is really in the eye and consciousness of the beholder but the potentials are endless.
Talking about your own productions, have you always been producing your brand of techno or were you more flexible in in your early days, making other styles too?
Personally, I have produced several styles of music from Psytrance to House and remixes before even starting Minitech Project. The Minitech Project Techno concept is ever evolving but has a strong basis in my live performances as the whole concept came about because of advancements in Hybrid Live DJ performance and a new direction to perform. So I mainly produce tracks to use for my hybrid live sets and that can range depending on where my performances are going. I definitely always like a certain amount of drive though as a basis rather than a deep feel to the music regardless. Presently i enjoy more raw techno and hypnotic wavetable riffs with tight drum elements to mess with 🙂
What has been your observation of the Indian scene over the last few years in context with the global circuit, since you constantly spend time between India and Netherlands?
Its great to see so many Artists and other Industry professionals doing a truly world class job in India now and not just for Indian standards. Sadly the scenes for authorities in terms of the party industry still have very long to go and that is the major holdback for events and venues to survive which affects the opportunities for all involved because of outdated rules, obtaining permissions, and corruption. This coupled by the non progressive society still in majority are the reasons why the scene cannot absolutely explode although all the promoters and venues and sponsors are still managing to push things forward and things are looking better and better on all these fronts. So big bravo for the passion involved to make that happen
Some of your favorite Indian artists.
Tuhin Mehta, Ash Roy, Shaun Moses, Stoked, Oddible
What's another passion besides music and arts?
I really enjoy Table Tennis , Nature, Psychedelics, and Sexuality
Your current secret weapon (track we mean!)
Minitech Project - Raw Muzik (Minitech Recordings)
Egbert - HAL9000 (Octopus)
If you were to close a party right now with a Minitech release, what would it be?
Oddible - Artemis (from the HOT vol3 compilation)
Its been a pleasure to have you with us. Any last words for upcoming artists looking to cut through the ranks from India, on a global scale.
These days in our connected civilization absolutely anything is possible with some insight. Make sure you first have a world class product in your DJ skills/productions and then be innovative in your marketing and know the right moment to approach the right opportunity. Gather a local following and support before looking to rule the world as well 🙂