He’s one of the main DJs, the A&R and often seen as the brains behind both the Hot Creations brand and the Paradise parties. He’s also a staunch defender of Ibiza, attributing his success to years of being on ‘different sides of the circle’ as far as club promoting and partying are concerned. Oh yeah, and he feels he could’ve had a career as a spiritual healer… Data Transmission speaks to Richy Ahmed.
You started out as promoter staff in Ibiza in your early 20s. Do you think having that as perhaps your proper first exposure into music and nightlife as an industry set a tone to how you approach music?
Massively. I think I approach DJing and production differently as a consequence. Coming from a background as a regular raver, I make and mix tunes that I know from experience will go off. Years ago I’d be in DC10 in the crowd, saying to friends ‘If I ever played here one day, I’d know exactly what to play’ and it seems now that I do! As far as being a promoter contributes, that too helps as I’m able to see both sides of the circle. There are DJs and agents out there who just regard promoters as dicks, but I’ve seen the other side so I do what I can to be helpful, I don’t need a fancy car to pick me up, I’ll make my own way wherever possible. -because I’ve been a promoter and I’ve met DJs and thought “what a dick!” too. But then….you see the agent’s side as well – they’re just trying to protect their artist and their business. I’ve been able to see all angles of it, which is useful.
You play frequently in both Croatia at Hot Creations parties as well as at the Paradise events in Ibiza. How do the two destinations compare?
I don’t actually think anything’s ever going to be ‘the new Ibiza’, especially not Croatia. Croatia’s cool, but it’s its own thing – it’s about festivals, it’s new, it’s fresh, to a point you can do what you want with the music, there’s not as many general rules, drinks are cheaper. But, it’s a festival place. It’s not where you want to go every week and just chill out through the summer. Ibiza has that. But I love them both!
You A&R for the Hot Creations and Paradise brands as well as DJing. Presumably that gives you an insight into the leading edge of new music but do you ever feel the role distracts you from your own music?
You can get overloaded with new music, sure – but for me it’s really useful, you get a big insight on tastes, trends. Part of it is seeing what absolutely everyone else seems to be making and thinking ‘well, I can’t be making that now!’ It’s funny, I get more and more promos, but it becomes addictive. You start looking for more and more despite the backlog. I’d never get tired of looking for tunes! That’s how I ended doing the A&R stuff for Hot Creations, just because this habit sort of morphed into a role for me.
The Paradise parties and the Hot Creations brand – they are separate, but there are a lot of similarities too. How have the two developed?
Well, they are different, and they’re getting more different. Hot Creations is ‘the’ brand, is the party brand, it’s more mine and Jamie’s thing. It’s less tough than the Paradise parties. There are artists that play both, but we are keen to keep the two separate particularly as now the Paradise parties are starting to develop a real theme of their own. The sound is a lot tougher for Paradise.
Hot Creations as a brand and their release series quickly gained mainstream recognition. Is that something you’re actively cautious about – in order to keep the brand feeling still relevant for the likes of emerging festivals?
It’s funny how it came about. In the beginning, Hot Creations had a policy to an extent of ‘anything goes’ techno, disco, anything that worked. It just so happened that the first few releases that all took off in succession were of a thematic particular sound. When I took on the A&R side, I made a conscious effort to differentiate release to release. If you look at the productions in the last 18 months, they look very different from one to the other.
With regard to caution: definitely. We’ve had a really good run so far and we’ve got a few now more purposely designed releases aimed at the techy crowd, club bangers, but they won’t be likely to cross into the mainstream. You don’t really want to have a long string of crossover hits as the English mentality is one of, build you up, knock you down – and that’s particularly prevalent in dance music. We’ve gone through an element of that already, and now we feel we’ve emerged on the other side, and can focus on making music we like for now.
From an A&R perspective and someone that jumped into performing DJ first, producer second, do you think that the shift toward a production-led industry can be felt on the dancefloor too?
Yes and no. I think you get a lot of DJs that end up getting big slots because they’ve made tunes, that aren’t necessarily going to do the job when it comes down to performing whereas some other DJs would actually do better – residents and so on. But at the end of the day, it’s about what sells tickets. You can only hit so many people by playing out, but you can hit a massive amount of people by playing records. That’s what’s gonna get you selling tickets, to get more people to come to the club. That what’s going to get you bigger quicker. There’s now so many DJs that that’s how people are going to pick their favourites – by who made a track that they liked, rather than their set. You just hope when they turn up that they’re going to be as good as expected from that track!
From a DJs perspective, Initially it was easier because of the meritocratic element, but now its harder because there are now so many people are making music, good music that it’s hard to get distinguished. But then it means that the industry is more open for variety. It also means the upcoming artists can get involved quickly. Years ago – you had to have a studio with loads of gear. Now its open to everyone. It’s no longer elitist. You can feel part of it from the get go, which is only a good thing.
What does the rest of 2014 look like for you?
Phew! Just making as much music as I can, and playing an absolute string of festivals.
Richy, if you’d never promoted, never raved, never gotten into music, What you’ve wanted to be?
Good question! Never thought about that. You know what? A Showman, I’m very spiritual – I’d be one of those guys doing big events, healing people!
Richy Ahmed Plays Secret Garden Party July 24-27. For more information and tickets head to www.secretgardenparty.com
Words: Ally Byers