Fatima Hajji – Exclusive Front Cover FeatureDecember 9, 2018
We caught up with one of Spain’s leading techno icons Fatima Hajji, and discussed her life, career and thoughts on the global techno scene..
Mike Mannix: Thank you, Fatima, for talking to us at iconic underground magazine, before we touch on your current career status, I’d like you to take us back to your earlier influences growing up in Madrid, and how your family and culture laid the foundations for your later musical aspirations?
Fatima Hajji: Hola Mike, is my pleasure, thank you too. Well actually I was born in Salamanca (200km from Madrid) and I moved to Madrid when I was 20. From the very beginning I remember the music at home, when my father was there (he was a Moroccan truck driver living in Spain) he would listen to mostly African and Rai music the whole day like Cheb Khaled for example. When he was working out, my brothers had the control of the sound system and they used to play mostly pounding Techno. I was the baby, so I was taking influence from them all and mixing it in my head.
When I was 16 I found a place that would sell Techno vinyl and an advert said “DJ Lessons” on the door. Without saying anything to my family or friends, I decided to start with the lessons and that’s how I learnt how to mix.
Several weeks later, I signed up for a DJ contest in my city and had to play in front of my two old brothers, lots of friends and many people I knew from my small city, none of them (except my older brother who was informed by thirds 🙂 knew that I would play until the contest published the names on the same day, so they caught me playing there and in the end I won; so it was a funny and crazy memory from my first time playing with an audience. After this, I started to play in different places in-and-around my city and then expanding the circle little by little, it’s now been 19 years 🙂
MM: It’s well known that your passion for ruthless pounding grooves, allows you to take control of the crowd in front of you. How do you feel in those moments and does that need to express yourself fuel the electrical creativity in you?
F: I love to play music that I can really connect with, it must make me want to dance and let me express myself freely. When I’m mixing I can liberate all my energy through the music without even thinking about it. My sets are composed of tracks I wish to listen if I were on the dancefloor. I like stomping basses to keep the people high and some melodies to give them time to breathe before the next drop.
Once I’m involved the rest comes,
my target is to have fun and make people dance hard and be happy.
The feeling of being in front of the crowd is so often like an addiction, loads of adrenaline and also the pressure to do the things properly and always to give your maximum. I love it
MM: Tell us about your new label SILVER M and your plans for it?
F: Silver is my favourite colour (I always wear something silvery) and the moon element is referring to the special moments we live during the night where most of our parties/meetings are; when the moon is present. Also, the Moon influence is big over all animals, nature and us. It’s a part of us and it is a feminine symbol that is showing us that’s everything connected (lifecycles).
Silver M is a reverence to the lifecycles, the platform from where I try to contribute with more music to the scene. The label has been running for almost 2 years now, people can find some of my own music and, of course, amazing music from producers that I love and whose tracks I play in my sets. Last year we started to release twice per month and now we have 17 releases with some huge producers like D-Unity, Loco & Jam, Drunken Kong, Frankyeffe, Alberto Ruiz, Hollen, Ranchatek and many more.
As a brand, Silver M has also had some showcases in emblematic places like Ibiza (Eden and Privilege), London (EGG), Amsterdam (Panama) and Barcelona (Razzmatazz).
The idea is to keep releasing stomping Techno music with the highest quality possible and also keep hosting parties in special places to meet/connect with everyone who is part of this adventure.
MM: Who is inspiring you at the moment, and who would you like to work with in the studio?
F: For me, the most inspiring icon in the electronic scene is Carl Cox. From the very beginning, he was one of the figures who made me love Techno music more and more. He has the energy, a good unique vibe, the technical skills and an amazing musical selection to make people happy and dancing during his sets. So, clearly, I would love to do something with him playing or in the studio.
MM: Walk us through the usual process of when you are in the studio from the analogue outboard, midi, samples and DAW you use and why. What is key in the whole production process?
F: I don’t have a strict process because sometimes I like to experiment in different ways but I use my Midi Bass Station II and usually Ableton Live. I find Ableton easy to work with and very intuitive but despite this sometimes I also work with Cubase.
Cubase is a bit more complicated but the audio engine is much better,
however, for the pre-master, I usually use Logic so I can have a good idea of what the final result will sound like. I normally send my tracks off to be mastered as I think it’s always better for new/clean ears to listen to all the frequencies. Only a few people can produce and master on their own perfectly.
When I’m building the track, for me it’s very important to have a stomping drum track and a good bass sitting together nicely, so I spend a lot of time working on both. On the other hand, if it’s a track with a vocal, I like to start working with the vocal first and then I build the rest of the track around it. Now I have a new toy in my studio, a Roland TR09 boutique, so over the coming days I’ll be testing and squeezing it 🙂
MM: How do you see the global underground Techno scene today and where do you see it evolving?
F: I think the scene is growing as electronic music has hit the mass media and this is a huge amount of people. So, more people than ever are now discovering “underground” sounds and there are more parties and in more places. Techno music is a global thing now, they’re more professional people involved in the scene, every day the audience has more knowledge, so I don’t know what will happen with the mainstream sounds but I guess the Techno scene is here to stay.
MM: There is a lot of successful woman in today’s global techno scene, what are your thoughts and feelings about the current debate on women in the industry?
F: It’s very nice to see different people with their own style grow within the scene. In my opinion, the scene is a reflection of what’s happening in society, as society is evolving to be more equal and women (in some areas) are (slowly) having the same options as men. The Techno scene is a good field because people mostly judge artists on their music, not for their gender, colour or appearance.
There are many new female names, but it’s also very important
there are some females at the very top right now such as; Nina Kraviz, Amelie Lens, Charlotte de Witte and more.
MM: What´s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome and what did you learn from it?
F: When I moved from my place of birth (Salamanca) to Madrid when I was 20 years old, I had an offer to join a new artist agency and they gave me production lessons. The only thing was that I had to move to Madrid (a very expensive city) and find a new job and flat plus live in the crazy chaos that all the big cities have. It was a hard experience to combine different jobs with my passion, some days I was so tired that I wanted to cry because the production lessons where very late and I had to wake up early. Also,
there weren’t many gigs at the start and I was close to quitting but I never gave up
and I’m very happy. These days taught me that work is the key
when you are totally convinced about what you love, you need to do your best to get it don’t hesitate to keep pushing until the end. It’s not easy but it’s totally needed.
MM: What do you hope people will say about your contribution to techno?
F: Good question. Mainly I wish to be remembered as someone who was happy making other people happy. Of course, I would also like my musical contribution to be remembered as a personal style into the Techno genre. Anyway, the important thing is to keep doing what I love and I’m very grateful to be able to do it every weekend at the parties that I have the honour to play at and also in my studio creating my own sound with total freedom. To be honest, this is a real gift; the rest will be an extra.
MM: What are your best stand out moments playing at an event or festival where you thought ‘fuck this is real,this is amazing’?
F: Lucky me I remember several hehe, that’s the best part of this work. <3 Once, when I played Monegros Desert Festival for the second time, I played the opening set from 17:00 pm, I started from zero and focused on the set, trying to play vinyl against the wind. The next time I looked to the front, I could see a huge crowd and more people running from the entrance to the dance floor, it was a Goosebumps moment.
My first Awakenings Festival, I started my set with my track Violines and when the drop kicked in the crowd screamed so so loud, it was so shocking!
MM: What are your thoughts with regards to social media stats, branding, logos, and image in today’s scene, is music and production skill seemingly becoming secondary?
F: The Internet gives us the possibility to show what we do, out of the big companies; you only need your skills, a video camera and your time. On the other hand, there are so many people doing it and it’s not easy to capture an audience.
The tools changed the way to do the things that is a fact, but I think in genres like Techno, many people have the knowledge to know if something is real or not; so it’s very important that your image is visible but you also need something real to show, if it’s only smoke it won’t last.
MM: What advice would you give an upcoming artist on how to be creatively original in an already saturated dance music scene?
F: Do your own thing, try to innovate and be loyal to yourself. And, of course,
work, work and more work to obtain what you want, and improve yourself every single day. Also, try to be honest and kind with the people who deserve it, as this is a long game and you’ll come across most people again somewhere else down the line.
MM: If you ended up trapped on a godforsaken island with only your decks, a crate of spirits and your vinyl fly case to your name, what would be the top 10 essential cuts that you must have to survive and why?
F: Funny, to only just think about it I’m starting to get claustrophobia or is that islandphobia I don’t usually drink alcohol but in this situation, I will be grateful to have it hehehe.
10 vinyl cuts
- Yeke Yeke – Mori Kante
- Free (my Bootleg version) – Fatima Hajji: I’ll not be totally free trapped in the island, but there are other ways I’ll be free and also this track represents a new stage on my life.
- Manipulated – Ben Sims (Adam Beyer remix): I’ll need some happiness there and this track is just that.
- Your Mind – Adam Beyer & Bart Skills: The lyric fits perfectly in this situation; I will lose my mind for sure.
- Minus Orange – Richie Hawtin: My anthem, it reminds me of when I started to play.
- Escape the System – Dax J: A very energetic track, I think it will wake me up and search for an exit.
- Any of Michael Jackson’s tracks. I love them.
- Violines – Fatima Hajji: It would make me want to fly and remember the good moments when I play it and feel the energy again.
- Free from Desiree – Gala: I especially love a bootleg that I used to play of this, it will remind me of the amazing moments playing it and it’s also part of my childhood.
- The Star It Up – Joey Beltram: Throughout my career, I have started many sets with this track, so this one is a must.
MM: How do you spend your downtime?
F: I like to spend time with my pack, 2 dogs and 2 cats, who live with me in the mountains near Madrid. I like to go on long walks through the forest altogether. I also like to travel, so I’m lucky, as sometimes I’m able to spend some days in the area after a gig. I love to discover new places with my friends.
MM: What are thinking right now?
F: Being in Barcelona for the OFF Week starting with a stream for DJ Mag + Ibiza global + Fiesta & Bullshit at the OD Hotel in Barcelona in the evening. Also, during the night, I’ll be playing at the Tronic Party alongside Christian Smith at R33, and then 2 festivals in Spain, the first on Saturday in Murcia called Animal Sound and on Sunday I’ll go to an aquatic Park in Ciudad Real for the Amazing Summer Festival, it’s a pity that when I’m there playing the watery toboggans are closed.
MM: What’s the craziest thing to happen to you?
F: Being without gas in the middle of the motorway, also stopping near a gas station with the motor in flames (1-metre flames!) plus being picked up by the wrong driver and only realising 50km after…
MM: What are your next big events, projects, and releases for 2018?
F: This summer I have a really nice schedule with great clubs and many nice festivals including Solar and Verknipt in NL, Aquasella, Weekend beach, The End of The World, Amazing Summer, Tramunfest, Holika and another one very big one to-be-published soon in Spain, Soundwaves & Citania in Portugal, Dentelles in France, Beatpoint in Croatia and I’ll also be playing for the very first time in Morocco and India, I’m very excited about this!
And after the great Eden Opening in Ibiza in May, I’m expecting to publish my next dates on the white Isle soon. So stay tuned 🙂