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  Asad Rizvi
by Greg Adamson

Ever since his emergence on the scene in 1995, Asad Rizvi has been a leading proponent of the ever-growing underground house movement, known the world over as tech-house. With over 40 releases to his name and DJ itineraries that have spanned five continents, the 25-year-old Londoner has developed a distinctive sound that has consistently won him support from the industry's leading music publications and DJs alike. Having already been dubbed a "new school hero" by Muzik in 1998, "Producer for 2000" by Mixmag, and a "DJ for 2000" in 'The Face', Asad has proved himself an artist who never fails to deliver.

Asad Rizvi press photoLunar:It's two PM on a Sunday afternoon; it's sunny and 77 degrees. Slight breeze blowing in from the north, you are outside in the garden with your trustable portable boom box. What's playing?

Asad: Right now it would be the Kenny Carpenter Studio 54 mix on Obsessive.

Lunar:It's three AM and you are having the night of your life. Who's DJing?

Asad: To be honest there wouldn't be a DJ. It would be an all night jam session between Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, The Meters, Chaka Khan, Trouble Funk and Led Zepplin. Or something outrageous like that...

Lunar:It's time to wake up and you're already late. What song do you wake up to?

Asad: Haha, wait for it... "Too Late" by Impossible Beings?!

Lunar:You're in the studio and starting work on a new track. What is running through your mind? What do you try first for inspiration? Is there any specific procedure you follow?

Asad Rizvi press photo Asad: It depends on whether I'm developing a song that's already been written or whether I'm just starting afresh. If the latter, I usually get a rhythm going. That always inspires the bass line, which in turn sparks the rest of the tune. Sometimes I have a specific groove in my head, which I want to put down, but it almost always comes out slightly different. If we're working on a song, then the lyrics and chord progression are the foundation of the track and the drums are formed around the music that already exists. But these are all generalisations. Sometimes stuff happens in a way that you wouldn't expect it to. You have to be prepared to change your methodology if the situation requires it.

Lunar:You're in front of a knowledgeable, up-for-it, ready-to-groove crowd. What are you playing for them right now? Please list 5.

Asad: A mixture of old and new...

  • Noel Nanton: "Your Love" - Ian Pooley remix (Honcho's)
  • Sandy Riviera: "I Can't Stop" (KOT)
  • Ravi McArthur: "Don't Fiddle with It" (Groovetech CD-R)
  • Superagua: "Superagua" - Silverlining version (Muquifo CD-R)
  • Rollin' Gear: "I, I Know" (Panic)

Lunar:You're describing the influential points and trends during the history of house/dance music in the UK to your friend's mother during dinner. What three or four things are you sure to mention to her that makes dance music stand out from the rest of the music world?

Asad:

  • It moved an entire generation away from the aggressive and capitalist ideals that Thatcher and the 80s instilled in this country. Despite its bad press it was the least violent youth culture of the 20th century... but was also one of the most deluded.

  • It's made room for a whole host of new musical expression, for example DJing. Some people who would never have been able to make a record before now could. But others who would never have been able to make a record before tried to and gloriously failed.

  • It's had the biggest effect on pop music since the guitar. It's also filtered through to pretty much every other form of media: TV & advertising, cinema, computer games, the Internet and mobile phones. It's been the soundtrack to the decade that has seen the most rapid technological advancement known to this planet.

  • The effect of Ecstasy on the youth of the 90s was so powerful that the decline in the younger generations' drinking habits prompted to entire pub industry to re-brand itself to accommodate the trends. Pubs that have existed for decades and, sometimes, centuries changed in a flash: DJs replaced the jukeboxes and the oak-wood bars were replaced by neon under-lighting.

Lunar:You are hanging out with one of your best friends (who also happens to be a producer) talking about the current state of dance music... what do you say to him about it?

Asad: There would be expletives flying around the room like bats on speed. No just kidding. I wouldn't be whining about the music itself, but the people who listen to one thing alone and then fall out with it when they've had enough. Purism—the lowest of all ideals in my opinion.

Lunar:You're under the age of 8 talking to your mom or teacher about what you want to be when you grow up, what did you say? If not music, when did you really get the bug for that?

Asad: I wanted to be an inventor. I had all these files of drawings and plans for these useless inventions. I also wanted to be a Karate teacher, but it turned out that I wouldn't have had the build for that. The music thing became a hobby when I was about 13 or 14 when I started playing with the first audio software on the Mac Plus. (8-bit, 22khz & mono! Those were the days.) I started off applying the crudest and most offensive effects you could imagine to hip-hop samples and looping them. Then I started recording on to four-tracks borrowed from my school and overlaying chords and melodies using keyboards. It was barefaced cheese la Richard Clyderman but it started me off. Then got into MIDI and DJing when I was about 16. I sent a tape of my early works to Colin Dale and the same week he asked me to bring a DAT down to his studio. I couldn't believe it, because I had listened to his show religiously for years and there I was hearing my music being played on it. From then my interests and ideas just spawned.

Asad Rizvi press photo Lunar:You are talking to a DJ who's just really gotten down beatmatching and is ready to conquer the DJ world. What do you tell him the next steps are?

Asad:
1. Buy some decent records
2. Put on some weight (optional but advisable).
3. Then start your own parties for your mates. (It's) the best way to get a peak time gig if you're unknown.
4. Forget worrying about mixing tight and focus on the crowd. The tightness will come inadvertently when you get your groove going.
5. Learn how to produce, wait till you're good at it, and then make records. This is will be the surest way to get recognition abroad.

Lunar:You are describing your sound to a jaded trainspotter who knows all the terminology... what do you say?

Asad: Tech-Boogie bordering on Death-Funk... If he winces at that I'd ask him to check it out and if he likes it he likes it, if he doesn't he doesn't.

Lunar:You get exactly the present you really want this Christmas... what is it?

Asad: A new pair of slippers and some plant food (with a couple of Apogee D/A converters and a Urei valve compressor in my stocking).

Lunar:Your favorite restaurant/food?

Asad: If my stomach had the capacity, I would gladly attach a tube to my mouth that fed me sushi 24/7. But I'm a sucker for all sorts: Iranian, Thai, Brazilian, Pakistani, Italian, fusion etc. My favourite restaurant is an Italian right under my flat. Every time I go in the waiters are dancing around on the tables with the female clientele to "It's raining men" and other such musical horrors. Always a laugh, and the food is phenomenal.

Lunar:Your dream car/current car?

Asad: Don't drive and don't want to, so my most indulgent automobile fantasy is limited to a limo with a sensible chauffeur and an adequately stocked mini-bar. Right now I have to settle with the local cab firm.

Lunar:Your favorite place to vacation/dream vacation?

Asad: I love Brazil and right now I'm dying to go up to Bahia and the North.

Lunar:Your favorite club to DJ?

Asad: Reverberations... our parties in Brixton.

Lunar:Your best story while DJing?

Asad: Answering nature's call during a long set to about 1000 people in Sao Paulo. Noticed "mid-flow" that the music had stopped, but naturally I couldn't actually leave until I was done. Came back to hear the unpleasant cacophony of a needle that had slipped across the vinyl and had been playing the label for about 2 minutes. Thankfully, they all cheered when I put another record on. Later I heard that everyone thought I had done it on purpose, so I got away with it!

Lunar:Your favorite drink?

Asad: My old faithful, the Russian Coke will always be my number one for the times you need a good kick up the rear. (a bite out of a sugar-and-coffee-coated slice of lemon, followed by a shot of vodka—try it kids).

Lunar:Your favorite compressor?

Asad Rizvi press photo Asad: My magnificent Avalon VT-737. Sex on a rack.

Lunar:Your favorite DJ mixer?

Asad: I quite like those Allen and Heaths.

Lunar:Your favorite seminal Detroit techno record?

Asad: Carl Craig: "At Les."

Lunar:You are playing your favorite sport. What is it and what position?

Asad: Me no like sport.

Lunar:Your favorite television show?

Asad: Last time I was asked this I said Fawlty Towers, but I'm also perpetually tickled by A League of Gentlemen.

Lunar:Please list some relevant personal facts... what city you live in, your marital status, your kids status, your current anything you're actually interested in people knowing.

Asad: I live in Putney in London, UK / engaged / no kids / no pets / 4 plants.

Thanks to Marcos Pieras of Soco Audio and to Asad for taking time out to speak with Lunar.

At Amazon.com

Fabric 2 from Amazon.com Fabric 2
Mixed by Terry Francis

Track Listing:

  1. Welcome
  2. East
  3. Morph Cross
  4. R Change U
  5. Doing Shows
  6. Frostreet
  7. Red Leather
  8. Ode To Mad Marj
  9. Oyea
  10. Ooh Yi Yi
  11. D&D Gold
  12. Night Life
  13. Dancin
  14. Lemon Pie
  15. Deeper
  16. My Love


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