Take Pictures: Ikonika

"I love being organised..."
Ikonika.jpg
Funny how the web works.

Earlier this year, Ikonika dropped by Mary Anne Hobbs' show on XFM to craft a quick mix. Throwing in a few new tracks, message boards immediately lit up with the prospect of fresh material from the producer.

Largely out of action since her Hyperdub anointed debut album, Ikonika has been focussing on her own imprint. Heading up Hum + Buzz, the producer found that independence came with a few restrictions on her time.

Pushing ahead, though, Ikonika has emerged with another vital release. 'I Make Lists' is an up front, dancefloor driven EP which retains her love affair with bass whilst also throwing out hints of classic Rave.

ClashMusic tracked down Ikonika (real name Sara Abdel-Hamid) to ask her a few questions about the EP and her future plans.

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This seems like a very direct, dancefloor driven EP – was that your intention?
I've been away from releases for a while, concentrating more on my label and DJ shows. I’ve also not been feeling a lot of new UK stuff recently apart from what the Night Slugs guys are putting out, so I’ve just been getting into more House and Techno orientated stuff, some old some new. What I’ve been playing in the last 2 years has really shaped ‘I Make Lists’.

Do you debut new material live? Have you introduced these tracks in your DJ set?
Yes, I’ve actually been playing these tracks for a long time now. More so to make sure they do actually work well on the floor. The palette I’ve used for this EP is a bit of a departure from my more Dubstep influenced tracks, and at first I wasn’t really sure if people would accept it, especially as I’ve been labeled as something closer to Dubstep, it stays, it becomes somewhat concrete. I’ve slowly been weaning myself off that.

'With Your Mouth' feels like a classic R&S release – are you drawn to that period of dance music?
I suppose I am. ‘With Your Mouth’ has that kind of Detroit Electro/Techno bump to it, which I’ve always found a little tipsy. I made the track after watching all these youtube videos of ‘New Dance Show’. I was so into it, I decided to use some footage for a Brenmar video.

How do you feel about electronic music looking back towards its past, is this healthy?
For me it’s more of an imaginary throwback. I was never into this music growing up and I wasn’t from the relevant cities. I was here in London born at the wrong time listening to UK Garage. I’m only really exploring the past because right now, I can’t find very much original music being made. It’s a little sad that after UK Funky we’ve kind of had nothing really exciting enough for us to really submerge ourselves into. But right now I’m really happy making these kind of trax.

There is still a definite bass infusion here, does dubstep still play a part in your musical make up?
Only when it comes to sub bass to be honest, but still, that’s more to do with the mix than anything. I like making these trax that are a nod to the past but making them compatible for the present.



'Take Pictures' has that classic Acid squelch, what draws you to that period of rave culture?
It’s just the groove. I’ve actually just got hold of a x0xb0x and although I didn’t use it on this EP, it’s really helping me make impulsive grooves. I’ve always used software and a couple of analog synths but never had a drum machine or groove machine. It can get a little tedious working in only one way so it’s nice to be able to reach for these things, and add elements of the old school ways with what I usually do. It may sound a little silly, as I used to be a drummer, but writing drum grooves has been my weakness, I’ve only been about the melody so now is the time to slowly change that.

'PR812' feels like a big, epic statement what made you go down this route?
'PR812' was actually the first track I made with this new palette. It just sort of all came together one night. I made it on headphones in the early hours of the morning. I couldn’t sleep unless I finished it. I suppose prior to this I was scrapping a lot of tunes and getting a little fatigued with sound choices and themes. There’s a little sample in there of cockpit warning beep.

The title references a hi-jacking, why did this grab your attention?
So I live about 10 minutes away from Heathrow airport. I fly a few times a month to DJ and I’ve just become a bit of an aviation fan. In fact most of this EP relates to planes. I had small obsession with the TV show ‘Air Crash Investigation’, because I had a little fear of take offs and turbulence, so I thought it could maybe help me understand how planes work so I could feel some control in the air. It helped a lot. But I remember just looking up some plane crashes on the internets and found this story of flight PR812. Here’s the story:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Airlines_Flight_812

This is my favourite part ‘Before he was about to jump, he panicked and clung to the rear door, and a male flight attendant pushed him out of the plane’

‘Catch Vibes’ - where did the vocal sample come from? Do you enjoy playing with the voice in this manner?
I don’t usually like using vocal samples, but I do like the ones that command you to do something, that’s why I choose it. I tried to use my own voice and disguise it but it sounded horrible so I just used text to speech.

All instrumentals again, can you see yourself working with a vocalist?
Yes, I’m trying to sort some stuff out for my next album.

‘Cold Soaking’ has a really heavy sound. I’ve read that you were previously into metal / hardcore, do you feel you approach ‘weight’ in music from a different angle than most electronic producers?
I think the intro to the drop is sometimes important, it worked well with ‘Cold Soaking’ as it’s a very mangled and paranoid track. I’ll always aim to have ‘weight’ in my tunes especially kicks and sub. My mixed arrangements usually come from Hardcore/Metal formulae; I’m still into contrast.

Do you think you can say just as much with music as you can with words, in some respects?
Yes. I’m not very good when it comes to speech compared to musical sounds and visuals. Most of the time I like being by myself, I think that’s why I love traveling for shows. I like being alone with film, music and my thoughts.

Where did the title ‘I Make Lists’ come from – do you actually have a habit of making lists?
I love being organised, I make up rules for myself for different situations. I have DJ rules, driving rules, TV rules, drinking rules, packing rules…it goes on. I’ve become quite a pro, particularly at airports. I’ll show you how to travel sometime.

How does working on your own label differ to Hyperdub?
It’s obviously easier to be on a label than have a label. But seeing all the stuff Hum + Buzz has been through since launching makes me respect Hyperdub so much more. Dealing with delays, cutting costs, compromising all the time can tire you mentally, when all you want to do is release some music. I shouldn’t complain really and I’m not, because I love the challenge and if I sign up for something, I’m going to be loyal and follow it through.

Where do you see Hum + Buzz progressing?
It’s hard to tell; I think we’ve still got our toes dipped in. I think we’re gonna stop planning but take things at the same pace.

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'I Make Lists' is out now.

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