Heralding from Leeds, Samir Alikhanizadeh aka ‘Happa‘ is stirring up quite a scene in the UK Bass scene. Still only in his mid-teens his productions are both well executed and original. Displaying a level of creativity that few are managing to achieve. With radio support from Mary Anne Hobbs on KISS FM (Soon to be joining BBC Radio 6), Skream and Zed Bias, it’s safe to say ‘Happa’ is here to stay.
Having released ‘Beat Of The Drum‘ on the newly formed Church imprint and a remix of Vondelpark’s ‘Dracula‘on R&S over the last few months has given Samir the confidence to pursue his ambitions in music despite having little formal training. What we’re dealing with here is raw, natural talent and the perseverance to accomplish great things. With plans to establish a regular club night to support other break-through artists and backing key players, all we have to do is sit back and wait for it to happen. In this interview Samir speaks openly about his influences, approach to music production and how he intends to fulfill his goals.
For those less acquainted, could you tell us who you are, where you’re from and what’s the story behind your name?
My name is Samir Alikhanizadeh, I was born and bread in Leeds. I enjoy listening to music, making shitty collages but most of all producing under the alias of Happa.
Happa doesn’t really mean anything [in English at least] I actually came up with “HalfAPersianPrinceAnd” by accident when playing about with words for a username for some website. Oh and I am half Iranian (Persian).
What records did you find yourself listening to in your early years and have you had any formal musical training?
I wasn’t massively into music when I was younger, but I can remember listening to quite a lot of funk and soul like James Brown for example. I also used to really like Robby Williams… ha. I’ve had no musical training or lessons what so ever.
When did music begin to play a more prominent part in your life and how do you see your music being received by an audience?
When I was introduced to Dubstep. Then from there on music became more and more important in my life as I came across many more forms of it. I still don’t really have a clear picture as to how well or not so well my music is received, although I suppose it is easier to get more of an idea now that I am starting to DJ more. I only had Soundcloud comments to go by up until recently, and spam, trolls and lies are a big problem and confusion on the Internet of course.
Your tracks are being supported by the likes of Skream, Zed Bias and Mary Anne Hobbs. How did this come about and how do you think it has helped your music come to prominence?
Yeah, well when it comes down to some of the wonderful support I have been getting, I can safely say that Mary Anne Hobbs was responsible for a lot of it. I can never thank her enough for the wonderful support that she has given me, and since her support things have kind of sprouted on their own, as if she was the planting of a support seed which has now grown into a tree… oh god that was an awful metaphor – haha! Those three all came about over Twitter and then some moved onto email, oh yeah so, so much.
Your first release on the newly formed Church imprint has generated a lot of hype. Could you tell us a little about the label, and how your involvement came about?
Just like a lot of people I have spoke to, It was over Facebook at first; James Tittensor messaged me – about a day after I put up a clip of ‘Bring It Back‘ on my Soundcloud – telling me about his plans to turn ‘Church’ into a label and how he wanted to release ‘Bring It Back‘. I was really up for it, so I then went on to make a B-side (which has now actually become the A side – Beat If The Drum) and it just slowly flowed from there. All in all, I am really happy with the EP and how people are reacting to it.
In what direction do you see your music taking as you mature as an artist?
To be brutally honest, deeper into the industrial Techno side of things. My productions just seem to be swaying in that direction and I am not trying to fight it; I am falling in love with Techno more and more, the darker it gets. I love it! I would also really like for my productions to go towards the film industry, and more experimental projects.
Could you discuss your creative process?
I kind of have two methods that randomly alternate: I either start out with a beat, and no certain type of beat just… a beat! I might sometimes bounce down parts of it, and pitch it down to give it a bit more depth. The other method is starting out with either a field recording or some sort of detuned synth (bounced into audio) and distorting the hell out of it, pitching it down and warping it into 5 times the original length… or anything around those lines to create some sort of dark soundscape. I will then just build upon it all form there, adding more layers of drums, or a repetitive lead etc.
What are your instruments and software of choice when producing music?
I use Ableton, its native effect plugin’s, your standard VST Synth and Maschine (rarely). I chose Ableton firstly just as I had heard good things, and I liked the look of the interface, and now after using it for around a year or so; I absolutely love it. It just works perfectly in harmony with how I produce; everything can be done with such speed and ease.
What are your top three albums?
I have pondered for ages and I just can’t say to be honest… all I can say is if I had to keep what I have loved over the past month I would keep:
Do you have any projects, collaborations, live shows or parties we should know about?
Like I have already said, hopefully to projects like composing music for films. I like the idea of keeping my self-busy with lots of different projects, each containing their own identity so yeah I hope to take part in some collaborations in the future. I have also been talking to a friend a lot about organizing some sort of night, but I want to do something different. I like the idea of a small dark room kind of vibe, but still… I just want to create a new style of night.
Could we have an insight into what you’re listening to at the moment?
I have been listening to a lot of ‘Manitoba‘ lately, I forgot how good Dan Snaith is, he’s unreal. I’ve also had ‘Look Over Your Shoulder‘ by Aaron Dilloway on repeat for lately, and lots of Brian Eno has been going around the Alikhanizadeh household.
Truss’ new release as MPIA3 has also been getting the rounds… A lot of experimental (ish), soundscape kind of Techno like Porter Ricks for example and lots of old back catalogues from Four Tet and R&S.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not grafting beats and playing instruments?
I like to listen and discover a lot of music, I have been getting into media/art quite a bit lately; mainly collages that I suppose you could say are similar to the Dada art movement. Eating is a fun hobby also.
Any words of wisdom for our readers?
Never try to limit yourself and always remember there isn’t really a proper way do to things when it comes to production, so don’t be afraid to experiment.HappaChurchR&S RecordsTechnoUK Bass