Salah Sadeq has a flair for reading and connecting with the crowd, creating that mercilessly upbeat and unpredictable sound that makes us feel emotions on the dance floor. A passionate global artist who, for the last 23 years, has thrived in the field of music and design, he has developed his sound across time, collaborating with a number of high profile international and regional artists, venues, labels, agencies, and brands.
His adventures have seen him play in Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto, and Tbilisi. He’s been behind the decks across Europe and the Middle East, and toured India. Aside from repeat returns to Amsterdam Dance Event, he’s played at Pacha Festival Amsterdam, Silver Network Anniversary @ Showcase Paris, and Sven Väth’s 2015 Tour in Beirut, as well as at Studio 80 Amsterdam, The Woods Brussels and Lisi Woods Tbilisi. He has a unique ability to keep a room full of people grooving for hours. Once you’ve heard one of his sets, you’ll definitely want to come back for more.
We caught up with Salah Sadeq to talk about his current musical projects.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Salah, thanks for your time today. Tell us a bit about your musical background. Do you have any memories from the first time music caught your attention?
Salah Sadeq: Hello all. The first time music caught my attention? Hmmm, have to think deeply about this as I really got influenced early by my family. It must have been my dad or mum or sister playing something at home. Our house was always flooded with music that my parents were listening to in the living room, or my sister in her room, or my brother in the room we shared. Definitely a very early 80’s or classical selection then (laughs).
EG: When did you discover electronic music? What are some of the songs that inspired you to venture into it?
Salah Sadeq: Electronic music was from my sister, Nadia’s room booming through the door for sure. Records like ‘19’ by Paul Hard Castle, Kraftwerk, Bjork, Yello and tons more.
EG: Now you run your own label, Techfui. Tell us about the initial intention of the output, its evolution and the challenges of running one
Salah Sadeq: Honestly the reason for starting a label was a little part natural evolution for the Techfui brand, a big part on putting out music from some of the untapped artists in various cities and creating collaborations between them and established artists and part boredom. The brand started as a mix CD I would give out to friends and people who came to my gigs asking for music. Developed into my brand for events and my residency at Likwid Bahrain, so it seemed natural that the next step should be putting out our own art on our platform.
EG: Are you planning new releases soon?
Salah Sadeq: Yes, we have been taking our time, but everyone knows it is a tough market out there, oversaturated and not enough buyer attention. We have a decent amount of content that has been waiting to come out with some frustrated artists as well. But I realized early it is better to release at a steady and well-timed manner than just dilute your collection with something every month or whatever.
Related to your question, yes we have our next curated compilation almost ready to go out. It was supposed to be an early summer 2019 release, but due to numerous development obstacles (including one where we were advised to not do a compilation but split it up as part EP’s) we took our time and the compilation is almost set to go out which paid off for the better I think. The compilation was curated in collaboration with Demi aka ASOY, and we are very happy with the material and artists we have on there.
EG: Moving into DJing, how do you define your style?
Salah Sadeq: Coming from a very early background in DJing I was brought up in the scene where the selection was key and having a range was a big part of it. I love my house as much as I love my techno and other electronic or puritan jams. But I guess as part of my evolution and early diverse influence I have my downtempo and lofi side, and then my club side and my terrace side… What is important for me is to make sure I lock into a flow and mood with the audience and then take them on a trip which teases and tinged with nice surprises. Like being in bed with someone.
EG: You have been moving through different cities lately: Dubai, Toronto and Beirut. In terms of music can you describe each one?
Salah Sadeq: Well I lived a big part in Bahrain where I am from and traveled often to Europe from there. The scene in Bahrain is not what it used to be, in the late ’90s and early 2000’s it was a lot more energetic and flooded with hungry people looking for the best and most forward-thinking. Compared to now where it is mostly generic and mainstream with only a rare appearance of something worthwhile with events like Soundscapes. There is a resurrection with some hidden and developing producers though, would be nice to see more of that.
The 2nd phase of my life I spent in Dubai and that allowed me to travel a lot more somehow. Dubai has always had it’s ups and downs when it comes to the events. But musically there is a steady growth of very good talented DJs and producers living and moving into the city. Every time I go back there I meet more people with interesting sounds to share. The big events might have a hold on the events, but underground music is strong as ever there with Deep Like, Boogie Box (Abu Dhabi), Analog Room, +- (Blitz), the Hatch parties and the Kitchen Sync crews.
Beirut was always project and gig stints. No matter what the political situation there, they are in their nice bubble of life must go on and you always have some new brands coming and going. Have seen a lot of new labels and artists pop up from there and musically it is as diverse as ever. Always nice to go back there, it’s been a little while too since I’ve been back.
Tbilisi what can I say? It has been 7 years or so since my first gig there. I lived there for almost a year when I left Dubai to take a break from the busy city life. Tbilisi, she is the girl I cannot get off my mind. That would be the perfect way to say it. The scene developed so quickly there as they are super passionate and hungry with tons of talents born and grown in the country. Every gig there is always great fun and an amazing interaction with the crowd. For a small city, there is a big and diverse appreciation for different styles of music and something inspiring in every corner there.
Toronto which I believe will be the 3rd phase in my life is a place I regularly visit to see my family and enjoy amazing summers. Another city full of talent, but not enough support and outlets to nurture them all. Too many silos and “clicky clicks” if you know what I mean, but also some very nice crews there developing or doing their part for the scene there. Nacht, Bespoke, Kollectiv, Forth, Promise and a few more are consistently making sure there is a joy for us there. Toronto musically is as diverse as you can get if you ask me. You could go out in one night and check out countless different events pushing their style/genre, be it lofi, drum and bass, techno, house, reggae, dub, hip hop and I could go on and on. It is a pity that many iconic venues are closing down due to rising costs and strict zoning and entertainment venue laws there. The city really needs to figure out a good way to sustain all this talent before it fades away.
EG: Do you have any special plans for the summer? Any gigs or festivals you looking forward too?
Salah Sadeq: This summer I am not traveling much. A lot of preparation and planning for Phase 3 of my life, which is giving me good consistent studio sessions. So more music production and some nice gigs being lined up whenever I can. There is so much going on and yes there are some festivals I really wanted to go this year like Sonar, ADE and some more, but will have to prioritize and leave those for next year.
“What is important for me is to make sure I lock into a flow and mood with the audience and then take them on a trip”
EG: What do you think makes a great DJ?
Salah Sadeq: There are two things I think are most important to being a good DJ: track selection and reading the crowd and moment. Just dropping big tracks in not DJing to me. Sounds like someone just put on a hits CD or a DJ mix CD from Ministry of Sound or something. Those pleasures don’t last long and the brain gets tired very easily from them. A good DJ can take you on a ride and keep you with him, making you second guess whether you want to go to the bar, or even leave to the next venue, or party, or room, or whatever.
Through the right selection and judging when to drop what you can make them eat out of your hand and that is the moment you feel you can actually touch each person when you connect eye to eye.
EG: Aside from music, what do you like to do in your free time?
Salah Sadeq: Aside from music is my creative and design life which has shared equal halves of me with my music side. I’m always hungry to see new art and creatives and exploring cities for the same. I’m a big foody and love cooking or exploring little funky venues when I travel, and I also love my football so a week is not complete without my regular game with our 7 vs 7 group. And last but not least LIVERPOOL! We Won it SIX Times!