Let's get this out of the way: Samir Alikhanizadeh is 16 years old. He wrote his breakthrough track, "Boss," when he was 14, and he travels to gigs accompanied by an adult. Much of the discussion about Happa has (understandably) centred on his age. But strip away the child star hype and you're left with a gifted producer who has an innate understanding of moving dance floors. Happa's music is coloured by powerful industrial techno textures, but his rhythms and arrangements are influenced by UK bass music. "I do like a lot of aggression in dance music," he says.
When Loefah played "Boss" on Rinse FM in 2012 it started a chain of events that kick-started Samir's career. Mary Anne Hobbs was an immediate supporter, and she introduced Samir to Four Tet, who commissioned him to remix a track, "Jupiters," for his label. Samir went on to release tracks and remixes through an impressive list of labels—Church, Bleep, Domino, R&S, Boomkat Editions—and last week he announced PT/5 Records, a label he's starting alongside Al Gill whose first release has remixes from Truss and Shifted. As we discovered on the road with Samir in Leeds, Milan and London, the backdrop to all of this has been pretty normal. Samir lives with his family and attends a music college in Leeds (his teacher didn't know much about Samir's modest fame). We also heard about Samir's struggle with Crohn's disease, a debilitating illness that looms over his life but afforded him the time at home to develop his brutal signature sound.