Hey People! Hope the music is kickin’ in all your lives. Amidst the testing times that we all are currently in, we are here to give you some respite and learn more about music and its talented artists. In this episode of #blabwithsandy, I have Hussein DJ A-Slam with me. DJ A-Slam is situated in Vancouver, Canada and is a terrific DJ/Musician/Rapper, and all that an artist can imbibe. 🙂 I really love his music and let’s wait no further and dive into the blab I had with him. I am sure you’d fall in love with him and his music during the course of this interview:
Sandy: Hey DJ A-Slam. How have you been?
A-Slam: I’ve been great, Sandy! 😊
Sandy: Could you tell us a bit about your background?
A-Slam: I was born on the East Coast of Canada, near Toronto. But when I was young, we moved to Vancouver, which is on the West Coast. During high school I started to learn bass guitar and drums. I went to university for Political Science, but on my spare time was teaching myself to produce, DJ, and Emcee. I also worked to pay for university too. My mom didn’t have much and she raised me and my brother in low income housing. What was crazy is when I was watching “Gully Boy” I was literally having flashbacks of my own start in music. I felt like I was seeing myself all over again.
Sandy: When did you grow as a DJ/ Musician?
A-Slam: My biggest growth was when I wrote a song called “4U”. That I wrote about my mom. I got amazing feedback on it, and it actually won an International song-writing award for best Hip-Hop song. Now that I’m a better producer, I’ve gone back and reproduced the song, and it will be coming out around November of 2020. In Vancouver, there’s a very large Punjabi population, that loves music. So as I grew, my sound became more fusion and Punjabi mix. This also lets me keep one foot in my culture. As for the lyrics, I often try to have a meaning or try to tell a story in my songs. One of my latest tracks, “Tera Swag” has over 50000 streams on JioSaavn, and that songs tells a short simple but beautiful story of the moment you meet the love of your life.
Working with ishQ Bector has helped me grow too. We have a dance floor banger coming out this year, with another producer Chin Injeti, who has worked with the likes of Drake and Eminem.
Sandy: From the time that you started and to the current times, how has the music industry changed?
A-Slam: Hip-Hop we’ve seen evolve more into Trap in the last few years. But I feel now we’re coming to a time of mixing the best of both these worlds. The most beautiful thing I feel about Hip-Hop right now is the rise of Hip-Hop in India and among the Indian Diaspora as well.
The sad part of the music industry that still needs to change is how royalties on streaming is collected and paid, because the artists see almost nothing from their streams. Even artists with record contracts are still at a disadvantage because of how the contracts are written. So, we need to see more positive change here.
Sandy: How do you come up with a concept before tuning your track? Is there any specific element that you choose?
A-Slam: Honestly just conversations that I have with my friends is usually how an idea will start. It’s all between the mix of life and reality. We can’t have just dance and pop songs all the time either. So I like to have a mix between dance songs, love songs, but also inspirational songs, and political songs.
There’s so many issues that get left out of the mainstream media so I like to touch on these from time to time. Especially growing up so hard in Vancouver, I feel like my perspective is important. I’m able to see inequality and injustice when others will just look the other way.
Sandy: Who are your favorite artists?
A-Slam: Kanye West hands down. I get so inspired by him. I also love Bone Thugs and Harmony, Timbaland, and Eminem. Out of the new artists, I love Raja Kumari. Her fusion is another level. She’s really inspired me to push harder into my music for sure.
Quick Shot Round:
- Your biggest regret: Not going straight into music during my early years
- Favourite track out of your own music: ‘Home’
- The App which you use the most: WhatsApp
- Favourite Genre: Hip Hop
- DJ’ing or Composing? DJ’ing
- Love: Empathy
- Good and Bad about the music industry: Creativity has no limit, and that’s the best thing. On the other end, the amount of money artists make needs to increase.
Sandy: What kind of messages have you been receiving for your latest tracks?
A-Slam: Listeners got back to me with heaps of messages for my track ‘Home’. Some of the emails have been heart touching. The track is about the true story of the life and murder of Maple Batalia. I worked with director Gary Chatha and his team Diaspora Creative to make an impactful music video, people can find it on YouTube. Just search “A-SLAM – Home”. The way women are treated, especially in some South Asian communities, hurts me so much. So that’s why I really wanted to talk about this issue of domestic violence.
Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
A-Slam: My goal is to release a song every month. You would see some exciting stuff from my end regularly. The best place to catch all my new releases is on my Instagram (@hussein_dj_a_slam).
Sandy: Any advice that you’d give to the newcomers entering the music industry?
A-Slam: Be it producing music or DJ’ing, I would recommend you go all out and try till you achieve your goals. It isn’t easy at all. Put your head down and just work at home for a minimum period of 6 months to develop your skills. The next step I would say is try to find someone that is doing what you are doing. And ask questions. As doors open just keep pushing forward. No one knows how far you can go except you. I love the quote from Om Shanti Om, “If you want something with all your heart, then the entire universe works to help you get it.”
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)
Follow DJ A-SLAM @hussein_dj_a_slam
Follow SANDY @blabwithsandy