RR: Andy, nice to see ya. We gather that your love for music started with playing the piano. Tell us how you transitioned into DJing.
Andy: Firstly I would like to say well done for what you guys are doing for the music scene in Sydney, the continuous support and also thanks for having me.
I was intrigued with all aspects of music from a young age, especially melodic elements. A family member suggested I have a go at playing the keyboard when I was about 7 years old and they noticed that I can hear a melody and replicate it musically. I would improvise on the keyboard and this eventually led to taking up piano lessons at a young age. The idea of DJing stemmed from watching a lot of credible DJs during the late '90s and early 2000's on TV and reading about them. I became obsessed and started exploring different types of electronic music.
RR: Being from Cairo originally, what musical influences were you exposed to there? Do you think it has shaped you as an artist today?
Andy: As a culture I have personally found that Egyptians have a good understanding of music and how it affects us - be it happiness, sadness or excitement. There is also the Arabic music scale which has a very different feel when it is played, what people often refer to as the "Middle Eastern" sound can be very emotive.
Also the techno tapes which were available in the late '90s had an influence on me and following that I started exploring compilations by the likes of Sasha, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman, John Digweed, Seb Fontaine, Deep Dish, Hernan Cattaneo and Paul Oakenfold. Also the Global Underground, Nubreed and Renaissance compilations series were a solid foundation to my current musical tastes.
RR: Is it true that you signed your first track ‘Identity Replikation’ when you were just 18?? Talk us through how that came about.
Andy: After learning to play the piano I was curious to learn how to integrate a MIDI keyboard with my computer as a sequencer and stumbled upon Propellerhead's 'Reason' in an interview with Sasha. I managed to grab myself a copy of it and went through the process of teaching myself how to use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) from programming drums, processing sounds, writing my own melodies to mixing and mastering.
When I moved to Sydney I felt I was able to produce music of good enough quality so I began writing numerous tracks and sending them to friends around the world who are DJs and producers. 'Identity Replikation,' believe it or not, was finished in a couple of hours which surprises me now that I look back on it! I only found out after a couple of months that a New York based DJ had been opening his sets with it for a long time. He approached me to sign it to his 'Acute Recordings' label, and that's how it happened.
RR: This year saw you and Zankee Gulati launch a new night called Forbidden TØNË. What's the concept behind the brand?
Andy: Forbidden TØNË is a brand which we created to expose people to that niche underground "progressive house" style of music. Mind you, progressive is not a sound but more the notion that the music develops across a track. It can be a melody, atmospheric pad sounds, rhythms or a vocal sample. Progressive comes in many forms from the laid back, deeper style to more heavy sounds.
RR: We loved your headline set at the SLYFOX a little while back - tell us about your history with the club.
Andy: My history with SLYFOX goes a while back before the current owners took over. It always had a special vibe and atmosphere, although the music programming and the ambience was nothing compared to what it is now. I have always pictured it being what it is today and there has definitely been a lot of hard work and upgrades over time - now it's characterised by its signature lampshades, excellent Funktion 1 sound system and great vibes.
RR: You're a Return to Rio resident - can you tell us your best memories from past Rio events?
Andy: I fell in love with the first Return to Rio I went to, when Dixon played a 4 hour closing set which was such an amazing experience for me. Also, noticing that the Rio team had such passion for good underground acts and a fun atmosphere made me love it even more. The team strive to improve the festival every time and this year will be magical.
RR: We regularly listen to your promo mixes on Soundcloud. Is there a process that you follow when curating them each month?
Andy: The monthly promo mixes I started back in 2014 are a reflection of my favourite music that I want to share with people. I really enjoy curating them as it's always exciting going through music, hearing new tracks then working out a flow for the set to present to people... it's always a fun and rewarding process.
RR: If we asked you to look back through your career and pick the most memorable set you've played, which would it be?
Andy: That is a tricky question, but I would pick the Blueprint office tower party on Boxing Day 2015 due to its unique location and concept. I might never experience a full on party in an office block in the middle of the city again!
RR: Finally, looking forward through the coming months, what have you got planned?
Andy: I'm excited for WeLove this weekend and I'm really looking forward to the summer season. Return to Rio has just released its full line-up, which is a highlight for me being part of the Rio family. Playing alongside such legends is a huge privilege. Also I'm currently back in the studio working on new music which I'm looking forward to sharing in the coming months.
RR: Looking forward to hearing them. Thanks for the chat Andy.