Based in Lahore but inspired by Detroit, Haider Uppal’s music ranges from dubby and textured house music to more spacious and groovy productions, all aimed at creating intricate and deep experiences.
Photo credit: Haider Uppal – Official
Haider’s approach to music is characterized by continuous growth and exploration. He actively collaborates with other talented international artists, releasing his productions on labels from Canada, England, Germany, and Portugal.
On November 17th, Haider Uppal will release his new collaboration with Saqib entitled ‘Mama Stole My Groove’ via Beats On Time! The track revolves around a funky bassline and rolling grooves, layered with rich and ever-evolving synth-work.
EG had the opportunity to catch up with Haider Uppal, discussing his latest release, as well as future projects and endeavors.
EG: Hi, Haider! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?
Haider Uppal: Hello and thank you for reaching out to me. Currently, I’m in my hometown of Lahore in Pakistan where the weather has been unpredictable, to say the least. I have been well and have been in the midst of a wonderful creative battle to evolve as an artist. I am excited to release the final version of my new work into the world.
EG: First of all, congratulations on the upcoming release of ‘Mama Stole My Groove’, your new collaboration with Saqib, via Beats On Time! You guys must be thrilled to share this one. What has the initial reception been like so far? Do you remember the first time you played this one live?
Haider Uppal: Thank you so much, and I really appreciate the love. This piece is special, and we took our time putting it together. Once it was finally scheduled for release after 3 years, we couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear! The response from record labels and close friends has been fantastic. Everyone loves it so far. As you can imagine, that means a lot to any artist, and it’s a great feeling to create art that is timeless with Saqib – I hope (and believe) that this will go places. Having played a rough version of this earlier this year in Lahore, I watched the groove resonate with the crowd exactly how I had imagined it would – it was like seeing your creation come to life through other people!
EG: ‘Mama Stole My Groove’ showcases a distinctive and groovy sound. Can you share the creative process behind the track and what inspired its funky bassline and evolving synth work?
Haider Uppal: Saqib is the mastermind behind the lead bassline, as one can easily recognize. He laid the foundation that inspired me enough to write the song using those parts. The initial sketch was a shorter break; feedback loops with Steppi from Nie Wieder Schlafen inspired the jam to restart on time. The synth work consists of bits and pieces of recordings sliced and run through various delay effects. The interplay of textures felt dynamic in my soundscape.
EG: The collaboration for ‘Mama Stole My Groove’ was entirely conducted over the internet, with you in Lahore and Saqib in Brooklyn. How did this remote collaboration impact the track’s production, and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Haider Uppal: Remote and in-studio collaborations are both interesting and challenging ways to produce music. For example, due to the creative blocks that all artists feel from time to time, I kept the track on my hard drive until very recently. I am sure that if it were with Saqib, we would have released it much sooner because his process is different – but I had to live up to the label’s name, and the beat is right on time! Remote collaboration helps one absorb the vision in an individualistic manner and perspective, while in-person collaboration requires input that sometimes affects the thought process and creative flow in both positive and negative ways. We kept exchanging notes, and Saqib and I have found a comfortable frequency of making music over the years, so we naturally sync and keep exchanging our love for music – which is the most important thing in the process of producing.
The biggest challenge for me wasn’t related to the production but the fact that I was about to release this after a long time when I should have done it years ago. Accepting and embracing that has been a big push and a source of excitement for me, for sure!
“While releasing an album is scary, releasing it independently is even scarier!”
EG: The last time you and Saqib collaborated was for ‘Lahore’, which was a significant release in 2019, receiving recognition and plays worldwide. Can you discuss the impact it had on your career and the plans for its re-release in 2024 with new remixes via Beats On Time?
Haider Uppal: ‘Lahore’ is a track that is very dear to us – and it feels timeless. In the midst of the constant stream of music being released every day, we believe this song is a unique addition. Through this song, we somehow connected with the world as it’s a high-energy jam that I thought would always resonate in Pakistan, but experiencing the love it has received worldwide has been a heartwarming and humbling experience. I love ending my sets with it when performing live, sharing my original work in new regions. Being appreciated for it fills my heart. The dance floor reaction to it is always strong. People feel its originality and get lost in the groove. It has been played all across Pakistan; at various underground events and venues throughout the country. It would be great to hear other artists’ interpretations of it with remixes, and Saqib has a plan that’s on schedule.
EG: You have various roles at Beats On Time, including design consultant, DJ, music producer, and A+R. Could you elaborate on your contributions to the inner workings of the label and how these roles connect to your artistic journey?
Haider Uppal: My background in Tech helps me manage multiple roles in life as well as in my musical endeavors; I would say the key contributions were in the beginning when Saqib was setting up the label. Helping him define the aesthetics he wanted was fulfilling — his creative vision is now in progress.
EG: What exciting developments can you share about the future of Beats On Time as a record label, particularly in terms of supporting and promoting emerging artists?
Haider Uppal: It’s a very fresh label run by artists who believe in your music. For artists, by artists. It’s an especially good home for quality house music made in South Asia. I hope to see the label’s showcases come to life soon!
EG: By the way, can you tell us about your upcoming album on Bandcamp and what listeners can expect from this release?
Haider Uppal: Ah… let me just say while releasing an album is scary, releasing it independently is even scarier! To be completely honest, I am not really stressed about the reactions because I believe in the music I made years ago, and most of it was close to being signed by major labels but for some reason, I didn’t go down that path; It has become clear now why I didn’t and I am happy with my decision. These pieces fit together as a concept and most of it is music I made when I was supposed to be studying for school pre & post COVID. I am so excited to share it with everyone as it is a significant milestone for me, hence the album name is ‘Graduated’. One of the singles is already available as a free download via Schirmchendrink. The second one is ‘Mama Stole my Groove’ which is currently premiering on Mixmag.
“I aspire to always bring my authentic self to the forefront and be inspired by others around me”
EG: As one of the top 101 producers globally, how has this recognition impacted your career, and what are your aspirations for the future as an artist?
Haider Uppal: It has solidified my standing as a Pakistani artist who has been recognized in the global electronic music industry. It made me aware that my music was crossing boundaries and resonating with a wider audience, which in turn inspired me to take a fresh approach to my music and creative process. As an artist, I aspire to always bring my authentic self to the forefront and be inspired by others around me.
EG: Your music seamlessly blends influences from Detroit’s techno and house scenes with your Pakistani roots. Can you elaborate on how you incorporate these diverse influences into your music and what inspires this fusion of sounds?
Haider Uppal: It’s all about the grooves, whether they are rhythmic or melodic in nature. I love recording sounds around me, the sounds of my city, and later incorporating them into my compositions. I feel that it makes the music much more authentic and personal. I’m grateful to wake up and do this every day!
EG: Beyond your musical career, what are your interests and passions, and how do they inform your creative process as an artist and your contributions to Beats On Time?
Haider Uppal: I enjoy nature walks, getting lost in the clouds, and, lastly, finding inspiration in architecture. Lahore is a city known for its architecture, and my family has played an active role in its restoration and upkeep. It has always inspired me and pushed me to explore directions that are outside of my comfort zone.
EG: What’s next for Haider? Where can your fans catch you next? What new milestones are you looking forward to in 2024?
Haider Uppal: Next for me is to go through all the music that I have created over the past few years and have just buried somewhere on my hard drive. I aim to dig it up, recreate, learn, unlearn, relearn, share… and see where all that takes me. I am open to all sorts of collaborations and opportunities, as long as they are personally and professionally fulfilling and inspiring.
EG: Thank you for your time, Haider! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you. Take care!
Haider Uppal: Thank you for having me here. I am thrilled for what is to come. Take care!
Haider Uppal’s ‘Mama Stole My Groove’ in collaboration with Saqib is scheduled for release on November 17th via Beats On Time! Pre-order here.