Ahead of his performance at Sonos Studio ADE on Saturday night, we managed to catch up with Dauwd in East London in the midst of preparing to move his life and belongings to a new home in Berlin. Such transitions are commonplace for Dauwd as we found out; these are just part of his nomadic lifestyle.
“I’m a fairly spontaneous person and I think there’s a free attitude to my lifestyle – I’d love to live in NYC and Amsterdam, but for now I’m going to try Berlin” states UK based producer Dauwd al-Hilali - known to many electronic music fans as Dauwd – on a warm October afternoon. “It just so happens that my music is there, my friends are there – I think it will be another chapter of my life.”
"...My music was based on an
idea of naivety and
The Global Melting Pot
Music (of all forms) in 2014 is somewhat of a transient entity. A cross-generational and trans-continental past time of enjoyment, communication and experience - music has always had a connection to place, time and individuals. But in an age where boundaries don’t exist, it’s not where you make your music, but rather the end result and what it actually sounds like. Born in the US, of Arabic descent, but raised in Wales, Dauwd also counts Liverpool as a grounding point, all before moving to his current base of South London. His music remains rich in sound, texture and diversity – but insists his art is unaffected by the space and time in which it’s produced.
“Electronic Music melts into one these days - I think it’s a result of going with the flow and feeling natural and not having a concept. Just being natural by expressing myself at the time. I can never really engage in a concept with my music” he explains. “I go into a studio - probably because of my influences and the styles of music I grew up with – I just jam out ideas and go with how I feel at the time in the studio. I’m often jealous of people who know what they want and make these conscious decisions. My skills have developed but my general ideas and the melodies I create are still there, the same as they were”.
As Dauwd’s music has progressed and shape-shifted, so too have the means of production used to create it. A self-taught producer utilizing sample based technology, Dauwd has experimented with machines as much as he has sounds. “I’m always buying equipment and I’m really into my synthesisers” he muses. “I’ve actually found myself making a complete crossover into analogue gear. I'd never come across synthesisers before, and my music was based on an idea of naivety and resourcefulness” he explains. “I still maintain that, but I’m also delving deeper into the possibilities available. Life is about broadening horizons.”
It’s this same mantra that’s seen the budding producer look to move out of one of the world’s cultural hubs to another well-documented creative nucleus – Berlin. The German city has seen a fast rise in emigrants arriving (many English speaking), including a fair number of DJs flocking to the ‘techno capital’ of Europe for cheap rent and a sustainable way to live from art.
“Despite moving, London will always be my home. I will always return here, wherever I move to” says Dauwd of a city that’s seen his musical flourish from strength to strength. “There are a number of reasons to move to Berlin. It’s inspiring for writing and I go out there to live there. Its cheaper too and equipment is cheaper; it’s a lot easier to be there than sitting in London counting the pennies” he reflects.
“…Despite moving, London will
always be my home…”
“On the other hand there’s always something to do here - if you have something in your head you can do it. The worst, it can be pretty anonymous. Liverpool and other places are close knit – even Berlin is like that too. When I’m in London I just stay in my little Peckham bubble down in South London and I only really go out to get flights for my shows. That’s cool and I’m comfortable with that - perhaps it reverts back to my upbringing in a small Welsh village,” he admits.
With a prominently nomadic and adventurous side to his aesthetic and personality, Dauwd’s prolific and equally nomadic trajectory (one that saw him release on the likes of Pictures Music and Ghostly International) has taken him under the wings of Kompakt, one of the most successful and enterprising of modern electronic music labels. But still, this reason – and his shift from bass-focused strains to more minimal sounds – hasn’t influenced his move.
“Actually I think my relationship with the label will be the same as it always has been, despite the move, explains Dauwd. “I feel that I can share the narrative that Kompakt has going throughout its musical output. “It is a cliché to move to Berlin to make electronic music” smiles Dauwd, “it’s a cliché for a reason, and that’s because it works for people”, he points out.
“A few of my friends still live in London, but there aren’t too many DJs living in London these days. Apart from a few like Fort Romeau and Daniel Avery, I don’t really know too many DJs that live here anymore” he comments on the overall hardships of living in the fast paced landscape of the city. “The lifestyle in Berlin definitely lends itself to the art I think.”
An encompassing attitude to music and an insatiable attitude for discovery and exploring the new, Dauwd’s nomadic musical endeavours seem to reflect his free-flowing lifestyle. Experimenting, discovering and adapting his music as much as his social and cultural surroundings, there’s plenty more to see and do for this restless musician and producer.
“I’m developing my live set at the moment, I’m really enjoying developing that right now, and of course I’m writing more records. I’m looking to change my style a lot, pretty much taking a new focus on musical styles every year. I’ve also been writing an album at the minute but taking my time with it, as with most things. There’s really no rush.”
photography: Alexander Newton