With Hamed Safi aka SpeakOf having new music out this week on False Face Music we catch up with him for the latest episode of 12 Questions.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I am 35 years old, residing in Toronto Canada. I have been a producer and DJ for about 15 years.
2. Where do your musical roots lies, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I grew up listening to a lot of 70s and 80s rock music. My uncle was a big musical influence on me. He had a big sound system with record players and a lot of vinyl. My early memory of being emotionally moved by music is when he invited me to listen to Pink Floyd – Echoes in headphones at his place. It was a surreal experience for me at a young age. My passion for rock music stayed with me all throughout my teenage years. I think by the time I was in high school, I knew that I want to perform and play music. Around this time I started attending local “raves” as we called them then, and more electronic events in Toronto. I loved the atmosphere, crowd and the music! It really grew on me quickly and I was determined to start creating my own music and DJ. I would say some of the biggest influences for me to pursue electronic music seriously were artists such as Sasha & John Digweed, James Lavelle, Danny Howells, James Holden.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
It was certainly difficult at the time. I spend many months figuring out sequencing and programming a song on a computer. But I really enjoyed the learning process; I was so hungry to put out tracks that I truly enjoyed the process. I did take a sound engineering course after a few years which gave me a lot of perspective on improving my sound technically, and understanding sound design more theoretically. I didn’t really get any advice from anyone in particular and mostly self-taught, I did have a few other producer friends and we helped each other out whenever possible.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
I always find starting a new track is the most difficult for me. My strength is in writing melodies and creating moods. Once I get something going I take my time with it, sometimes a few months. I like to keep going back to my projects and tweaking them. I would say this is the longest stage of producing a track for me. When I hit a creative block I usually step back for a few days, then go back and start with a fresh mind.
5. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
I own and manage a marketing agency with my girlfriend in Toronto. I spend my days meeting with clients and working on various marketing projects. I have a rule of having a minimum of 2 creative hours per day for myself. If Im not working on music, I paint, watch movies, hangout with friends. Now days with the launch of False Face Music I am pretty occupied with my friend Leo Santini, scheduling releases and working on the concepts for the upcoming releases.
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
I don’t listen to a genre specific music. I like all kind of music. I can pretty much pick a few favorites in any genre. To me if it sounds good to my ears I will listen to it. I love discovering new acts and following their music. Lately I have been really enjoying bands like Deptford Goth, Sohn, Broods, RYX, Daughter, The Weekend etc. I can say that 99% of time the music I listen to has a direct influence on my own production. I tend to be very obsessive when it comes to listening to music. If I find a favorite, I may listen to it five to ten times in a day.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
First music I ever bought on CD was GunsNRoses-Use your Illusion, First electronic record I ever bought must have been Sasha’s Expander. Latest music I purchased was Sohn’s new album Rennen which is a brilliant piece of music in my opinion. Im looking forward to see him live in April in Toronto.
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I wake up every day at 5AM and work on music for a few hours before I start my day. I find that I’m at my most creative mindset early mornings and love watching the sun rise as I work.
9. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
I think there are a lot of hard working artists that are constantly overlooked so it would be hard to pick a name from that list. There are a lot of really passionate producers who dedicate their time every day at home or in their studios, trying to perfect their sound or write new music. They don’t initially care about the fame and making it big in the scene, they care about the art and making great music. I respect that a lot and have always tried to continue in that path.
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
John Talabot, Ame, Roman Flugel, Ricardo Villalobos, Tennis, Tale Of Us, Mind Against.. I think the Life and Death/Afterlife platform and their artists have been consistently putting out great ground breaking music in the past few years and they have constantly inspired me with their work. Other than music, I love colours and textures, I paint on my spare time and colours tend to inspire me a lot as well.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
I would say to not hold back. Don’t be bound to any genres and limit yourself to any kind of music because its popular or sells well. Be true to yourself, discover your desires and aim high. Be organized and detail oriented, don’t rush in the process of production and always stay humble.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
So tough to choose! But I think I would go with Kate Bush – Running up that hill (Infusion Remix)
‘Gamma’ is out now on False Face Music, you can purchase the release: here