Saqib is a DJ and producer based in Brooklyn, NYC. He is affiliated with BLOND:ISH’s Abracadabra, Holmar’s Acid Tourism, and NYC’s ebb + flow. Named one of 1001 Tracklist’s top 100 producers of 2021, Saqib is a dance-floor instigator with a unique musical background and singular ear for music, and producers and dancers alike will tell you that you can easily pick out a Saqib DJ set and a Saqib track from the rest.
The original resident of NYC’s Member’s Only, he got his start playing records week in and week out in 2013, and has since shared the decks with Lee Burridge, Audiofly, Behrouz, Dixon, BLOND:ISH, Bedouin, Francesca Lombardo, and more. Over time, Saqib made his mark on NYC dance floors, playing for CityFox, Bespoke Musik, ZERO, House of Yes, Output, Cielo, Knockdown Center, and so many more.
We caught up with Saqib to chat about his new label, Beats On Time, its first release ‘Back To Black’, and other musical topics.
EG: Hi Saqib! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. Where are you based right now?
Saqib: Hi! good to talk to you again! I am based in Brooklyn, New York where I live with the love of my life, Nina. My studio ( high-tech low-life studio) is also there.
EG: So, congratulations on the release of ‘Back To Black’. What has the initial reception been like?
Saqib: The initial reception has been great! This is a track that I produced almost 2 years ago and I had been playing it out for quite some time… as a secret weapon (laughter)! So it’s awesome to finally put it out!
EG: And what can your fans expect to find on ‘Back To Black’? What’s the inspiration for this one?
Saqib: On this EP, listeners can find two versions of ‘Back To Black’: an instrumental dub and a full vocal version with Amy Winehouse’s vocal in it, which will be in the form of a free download. The inspiration for this one was a project called ‘Songs for Ali’.
EG: ‘Back To Black’ is actually your first release on your newly launched Beats On Time imprint. How did the idea for Beats On Time come about? Why did you decide to launch your own label?
Saqib: Well, it actually started with a project called ‘Songs for Ali’. My elder brother Ali Malik left this world in September 2018. After he passed, I started a project called songs for Ali where I took songs that he loved and edited them for dance floors. I started it with remixes of David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, Dre, Tupac, and so many others. Some of them ended up getting around and were supported really widely by artists like Blond:ish and Seth Troxler and ended up getting played around the world quite a bit. Over time I continued making edits. And I watched the project grow so much. It was the seed that eventually became Beats On Time.
EG: And what can we expect from Beats On Time? Is there a “concept” or ethos backing each release?
Saqib: We will have two series of releases: original EP’s and then alongside that, the continuation of the ‘Songs for Ali’ series which will be free downloads and edits. I am hoping to bring in more artists over time and feature them on the label. We plan on throwing events in NYC as well. Keep your eyes peeled for that!
“I would recommend that before starting your own label make sure you look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if this is a commitment you are willing to make”
EG: How much work goes into running your own imprint? What are some key aspects you had to research in order to set everything up? What can you recommend to other artists looking to set up their own label?
Saqib: A lot of work has gone into the label at this point. Some of the things we had to figure out were the mechanics of music distribution, music promotion, and how to get our music heard by a big audience. I would recommend that before starting your own label make sure you look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if this is a commitment you are willing to make and if the answer is yes start assembling a team around you of resourceful individuals who share your vision.
EG: And Beats On Time will also push its own podcast series, right? What can you anticipate on that front?
Saqib: Yes, we are starting our own podcast series. It will feature DJ’s we love from around the world. The first podcast will be a set by our resident artist Haider Uppal to be released on December 19th, 2022.
EG: What are your thoughts on the current state of the scene? What would you like to see more and less of?
Saqib: Overall I love it and I am excited to see where it’s going. There are a lot of incredible producers out there right now who are pushing the limits of what we think is normal or acceptable and the boundaries between genres are breaking down. So I am very excited to see where it’s going and how I myself am changing with it. I think that’s a beautiful thing about electronic music: it’s always changing. And I love that!
EG: What is art and why do we need it?
Saqib: I don’t know. I ask myself what is sound and what music is every day. I don’t know if I will ever really know. I think we are trying to figure it out.
EG: What’s next for Saqib and Beats On Time? What particular milestones are you looking forwards to now? Where can your fans catch you next?
Saqib: We have some great releases coming out soon and the start of our podcast series! Around the end of January, we will have our second release, featuring Haider Uppal and myself and I am looking forward to it!
EG: Thank you so much for your time, Saqib! We wish you all the best for the future.
Saqib: Thank you for your time and support over the years Electronic Groove!