With a fascination in ambient sounds, textures and lo-fi beats, Spceboi (Adnan Al Sannaa) has been pushing his music into new territories. We caught up with the Eastern Province DJ and producer to discuss his latest projects, and the future of electronic music in the region.
SWITCHED: Hello Adnan... let’s get the obvious out of the way, how have you been dealing with the coronavirus lately?
ADNAN: So far so good. Been feeling super thankful to where we are in the world. While there is anxiety in the air, I do feel safe out here. Seems like we're in the better parts of the world as the government has been doing a miraculous job slowing the cases down.
Other than that, I can no longer go to work as Qatif is on lockdown. So it feels like a break that I've been needing for a while. I've been mostly working on music and spending time with the family. I mean I do wish I can go out now and then, but I'm not gonna lie, from that perspective it feels nice.
SW: Its undoubtedly disrupted all levels of life, including obviously the music scene. How do you feel the music community has reacted and coped with it?
AD: Feels sad really as I know many people have their work completely stopped due to this. It is interesting seeing how people react to it, many musicians going live and such. Other than that, it seems artists are bonding together now more than ever so that's really good to see.
SW: Well, you’ve been quite active yourself, up until then. Performing at a number of events, especially in your home-country Saudi. What was your personal highlight and how has that impacted you and your music?
AD: Playing at MDL Beast has definitely been the highlight. Felt very thankful for the opportunity. Was a funny experience going to back to work after that. It definitely made me want to focus more on music and work a bit harder.
SW: Where do you feel we are, on a regional scale, in terms of homegrown electronic artists? Do you see a shit? New trends?
I think we're in an interesting time. It's really fun seeing people organize and doing small scenes here and there, specially in Bahrain and Kuwait. People in general seem to give more attention to art and creativity now. Like being and 'artist' or a 'creative' is really in trend.
There has been way more events than any time before for the region it feels. While their quality varies, I think with time we'll see interesting stuff happening.
Growing up there was very little music around me. Maybe the occasional Om Kalthum on the radio, but that's it. On my fifteenth birthday, one of my aunt's got me a Walkman radio and that really changed me and made me get all excited about music.
When we had internet, it was mainly through forums seeing what other's are listening to. After that it was going to websites like Pitchfork, and checking reviewers like the Needle Drop. Now, I mostly dig in Bandcamp and Youtube.
SW: What was your initiation into electronic music? Was music a big part of your upbringing? How did you discover and explore new music when you started?
AD: For electronic music, I think it listening to the more electronic albums by Radiohead, then it was discovering musicians like Andy Stott, Clark, and Jon Hopkins. At that point I was already familiar with some electronic musicians but these guys were doing something that stood out to me.
DW: You haven’t been shy in trying out new things and pushing yourself creatively. Your latest EP ‘April Showers’ was 6 tracks of ambient music… what was the process like making that record? And why ambient music?
AD: Yeah, at that point I was making mostly lo-fi beats with ambient elements but listening to lots of ambient music. I originally wanted to make a beat tape, but then felt like I would rather do something a bit more different.
Ambient music really resonates with me, while I never intended to make ambient music I felt intrigued by it. After making few tracks I really liked what came out and decided on the idea of the EP. After that I worked on a number of skeletal ideas and loops. Then went back to developed the ones I actually liked. I really enjoyed the whole process. Making a cohesive music collection, even if it was small. Been wanting to that ever since, but I keep getting distracted by different ideas.
SW: You’re also involved with “The Crate” – a radio show, as well as producing a series of episodes called “Strictly Vinyl” – tell us about why you’re doing these and how they’re helping you as an artist/musician?
AD: I joined the Crate some months back and it has been great. All my other music ventures are self-led so I do whatever, whenever. But with Salah Sadeq, the Crate Radio founder, things are a lot more professional so I'm learning a lot. Super thankful for this. It also forces me to listen and learn more about music and be more involved in the scene.
I got into the whole vinyl thing after getting super frustrated about DJing. I felt like I was not making good progress and I was not happy about my mixes. Something just felt wrong to me.
At that point I was always tuning in to Yoyaku's, a french label and a record store, sessions. They're all vinyl only and shot in store. Getting so hooked on that I was like maybe I need to get into vinyl. Then started DJing on vinyl and loving it. Strictly Vinyl was just something to keep myself practicing and getting better at what I love. Figured might as well come up with a name and a logo for it. Then recently I cleaned up my space and started recording it in video, which is really fun for me.
SW: In your opinion, where do you feel the future lay for electronic music in the region? Is it artists delving deeper into sub-genres? Or in larger scale festivals?
AD: I wonder a lot about that. Sadly, it is hard to get a space to do a small event. So naturally it is not easy to do something that caters for a tiny audience.
In terms of people pushing boundaries of genres, I've been very impressed by the Kalibr+ crew in Kuwait. Their whole aesthetic feels fresh and unique to me. I want to see more of that. While there might be more commercial events happening, I think we still have the occasional niche party.
SW: What are you working on these days? Any imminent future projects or collaborations?
AD: Thanks to the whole lockdown thing, I decided to work on the beat tape that I originally wanted to make. It's just starting to take shape now. I want it to be a collaborative project in the sense that it will include different features. I have few people in mind that I'm excited to work with, but I'm still at a very early stage of it so it'll have to take its time.