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Mustafa Ismaeel: “I feel that the appreciation for the music scene is going to be much higher”

Mustafa Ismaeel is a DJ and Producer from Toronto who is constantly redefining his musical boundaries while creating vibrant, profound, and unique journeys. His multicultural background is definitely a major influence of his art; Born in Iraq, growing up in India, and maturing in Canada has added to the versatility and universe of his music.

With recent and scheduled performances at Burning Man, Afrikaburn, Vujaday Music Festival, AIM Festival, Stereo Montreal, NYC, Tulum, Goa, Europe, South America, and the Middle East, along with multiple releases and breaking through the Beatport Top 10 Charts, he has nothing but huge prospects to offer.

We caught up with Mustafa Ismaeel to talk about his new single alongside Adam Husa, ‘Young, Wild and Free’, and current musical projects.

Electronic Groove: Hello, Mustafa, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. What a year, right? So, where are you based at the moment? What are restrictions like over there?

Mustafa Ismaeel: Hey guys, thanks for the invite, it’s my pleasure. It has been a weird and interesting year, to say the least. A complete shift that no one in the music industry ever expected. I am currently based in Toronto, Canada. The restrictions have been very tight here actually and we have been under lockdown after lockdown for a very long time now. Last summer they opened it up a little bit with limited capacity seated events but that only lasted for a short while, and they closed everything again. At the moment there is nothing going on here and the energy is pretty tense.

Electronic Groove: As you mentioned you are currently residing in Toronto, a very diverse city. What can you tell us about the scene there compared to other Canadian cities?

Mustafa Ismaeel: Well, usually (before the Covid) Toronto is a very vibrant city and the music scene has been expanding and maturing nicely here. Many events would be happening on the same night and big international bookings were the norm. The support for local DJs wasn’t the biggest but it was on the way there because more and more local talents were actually making quality music and delivering quality sets and performances. Also, the fans were getting educated more and you would find more niches and deeper sub-genres and events happening which is very cool. I think overall the scene was heading in a good direction, and I am hoping that it will be back and stronger than before when things open up.

As compared to other Canadian cities, I think Montreal still has a scene that is a bit more mature than here and they have more experience and years in Toronto but as the years were passing we were getting there too, and the good thing is that there are very close ties between the two cities and a lot of love.

Electronic Groove: It’s been a while since the conception of Deep House Toronto. Has it evolved in the way that you hoped for? What’s next on the horizon for the brand?

Mustafa Ismaeel: Yes, it has been over 6 years now for Deep House Toronto and I am very proud of the progress and the development that the brand has achieved. I recently recorded the 100th podcast of the DHT series, which was my first contribution after all these years and we have some very exciting names to be releasing with us this year. We also recently launched another podcast series called ‘Catalyst’ which comes out also through Deep House Toronto, and right now we are offering a full range of music and event promotion services, from podcasts to free downloads, premieres, events organizations, and promotion. We are now a team of 7 dedicated individuals and the energy and motivation are better than ever.

Electronic Groove: Speaking about your future…you’ve got a new collaboration that recently came out on Steyoyoke, right? How did you meet Adam Husa?

Mustafa Ismaeel: Yes, I and Adam just released a track called ‘Young, Wild and Free’ under one of our favorite record labels, Steyoyoke. And we are both very happy about the feedback it has been getting.

I knew who Adam was from a while ago but just online as a DJ/producer and also as the guy who runs Husa Sounds which I recorded a mix for before knowing him in person. He also released a track under the record label that I was part of the team for ‘Dream Culture’. Then we booked Adam here in Toronto for a show where we both played and had a lot of fun. Later that year he booked me to play in Montreal and the connection was solidified even more. But I think the real close friendship happened when we both decided to go to Burning Man together in 2018 and we both had the best time ever. We ended up sharing most of our individual sets and played them as B2B’s and this is where the whole Adam Husa B2B Mustafa Ismaeel thing all started. We just tried to have fun whenever we played and whatever we did, and I think our vibe was contagious. After a lot of amazing experiences and great feedback we started playing more together and took the B2B’s to Stereo Montreal, and even some music festivals. We have also been working on a couple of tracks and we have 2 more tracks together coming out before the summer this year.

“It has been over 6 years now for Deep House Toronto and I am very proud of the progress and the development
that the brand has achieved”

Electronic Groove: What’s the story behind ‘Young, Wild and Free’? And studio-wise… What was the chemistry with Adam like? Did you compose together in the same place or was it all virtual? What roles did you each take on?

Mustafa Ismaeel: To be honest ‘Young, Wild and Free’ was one of those tracks that almost wrote itself and came to life so effortlessly. It is almost like it was just meant to be. Basically last year Adam messaged me from Egypt (where he currently lives), and tells me ‘hey bro I’ve been working on this track and whenever I hear it I remember your vibe and the tracks you used to play, u want to maybe collab on it?’ So I was like, ‘Sure let me check it out first’, so I listened to the rough draft of what he was working on and saw a lot of potential in it; right away I pictured what I can do with this track and where I can take it. So he sent me the stems and boom, a couple of days later the track was fully ready. It all came very naturally.

I believe we have good studio chemistry and our qualities and talents complement each other. He is more about creativity and those rather weirder but cool sounds. And I am kind of more detail and sound design-oriented and I love making melodies. We both definitely love groovy basslines and a somewhat energetic vibe.

Electronic Groove: Stepping out of the studio… What are your expectations for this upcoming year as an artist?

Mustafa Ismaeel: I have personally been trying my best to focus on growing my music production knowledge and skills and also focusing on my health. That being said, I am still a DJ and I love playing music and connecting with the crowd, a feeling that I really miss. But the good news is that I just signed with Avid artist management agency which are good friends and have a great roster including Robbie Akbal, Niko Schwind, and many great talents. We are finalizing the dates for a mini-tour in the US and Central America very soon. I am coming to your hometown EG too 😉

I am hoping that things will start opening up again in Canada by the summer and I am optimistic about that. Maybe if things are good in the rest of the world, then I am considering a North Africa and the Middle East tour too. It all depending on how the pandemic situation unfolds but I am optimistic about it.

Photo Credit: Alec Donnell Luna

EG: Where do you think we’re at right now as a scene? Do you think there’s a lot of work ahead of us in order to make it a more equal and fair one?

Mustafa Ismaeel: Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, right now after the pandemic ends and things open up fully I think the energy is going to be great and I see a lot of positive changes happening in the scene around the world. One of them would be giving more credit and appreciation to local artists and supporting local talents and products. Also, I feel that the appreciation for the music scene, in general, is going to be much higher which can lead to some positive changes if we try to implement them.

Electronic Groove: Mustafa, it’s been our pleasure. We wish you the best for 2021!

Mustafa Ismaeel: Thanks for having me here guys, we talked about this interview a long time back and I am happy we finally did it. Congrats on all your success, Electronic Groove is one of the pillars when it comes to electronic music blogs, and thank you for your constant support.

Mustafa Ismaeel and Adam Husa’s ‘Young, Wild and Free’ is now available via Steyoyoke. Grab your copy here

Follow Mustafa Ismaeel: Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify 

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