Global club sounds from Philadelphia.
"I wonder if my sets can be exhausting," DJ Haram ponders in our interview below. She has a decisive and wide-ranging style that touches on nearly every aspect of modern club music. Recently she's made the leap from DJing to production with ease: her debut EP on Hyperdub, Grace, came out this summer and is one of the most impressive club records of the year, balancing experimentation with dance floor know-how. Last year's 700 Bliss EP with Moor Mother on Halcyon Veil was another highlight, combining noise, hip-hop, spoken word and ambient.
It's arguably through DJing that the Philadelphia artist still best expresses herself. As her mixes for The FADER and Dummy show, she isn't afraid to smash disparate things together, often with an audible Middle Eastern thread. (Her DJ name is the Arabic word for "forbidden," used particularly in terms of Islamic religious rules.) She's part of a Philadelphia scene that also includes artists like SCRAAATCH and Moor Mother, but the scope of her DJing stretches out to the rest of America and beyond, encompassing regional club styles in addition to Arabic music, rap and UK sounds.
Her DJing is hard-hitting yet smooth, which you can hear in some magical blends on her RA podcast. Rap tracks from Young Thug and bbymutha dissolve into boundary-pushing club tunes, with dips into Jersey club, gqom, trap and house music, along with Arabic hip-hop and Moroccan dance. She might think her sets are exhausting, but this one is invigorating and inspiring, a comprehensive look at 2019's best club music.
What have you been up to recently?
I just got off touring most of the summer after Grace dropped. Now I'm staying busy at home, trying to feed my spirit. Working on the 700 Bliss album and other production. I have this song "Overeager" that came out recently, it's on Arabstazy's Under Frustration compilation.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Recorded live at my studio on a Pioneer DDJ 400.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
An hour well spent. Being an eclectic DJ I wonder if my sets can be exhausting, running from one genre to the next. I'm kind of a moody selector. I don't plan my sets or mixes. I organize my music by season and go with my vibe, playing things I think will sound good together. Worth listening to twice.
You've only recently started putting out records, but you've been DJing for much longer. Why the wait? Is producing something that's newer to you?
I've been DJing since 2014. I started teaching myself to produce, arrange, record and mix music at the same time. I have no other foundation or experience making music. I started spinning to help learn how to produce, for a chance to study music. I released Mixed Berries, Grace and some singles and collaborations this year, but I have tracks I've made/put out years before—stuff with Club Chai, and other compilations, production for Abdu Ali, Spa 700, remixes.
How do you incorporate Middle Eastern musical traditions into your work, and is that important to your musical identity? Has this approach changed or developed over the years?
Through instruments, rhythms, samples and attitude. It is a tradition I've learned a lot through and will always be important. I'm developing my sound but also not trying to be aesthetically strict. I want my music to sound hard and detailed and, necessary to repeat, not just Middle Eastern. It has been inspiring to say the least to get to tour in the Middle East. I would like to continue to grow and engage and collaborate and perform with more Middle Eastern artists.
What are you up to next?
Performing at Unsound and Mira with 700 Bliss. Some solo tour dates. I think I'll to go to New Orleans for Halloween. I need a good costume.