OTW #461: Happa

Raw, gritty dance music
Clash Magazine Ones To Watch 2013 - Happa

In the last issue of Clash, legendary producer Tom Middleton posed an interesting question. The essence of which was this: does the abundance of readily available music production software enable those without any real musical ability to create professional sounding but generic loop-based music? Or, is it a vital advance in inspiring and nurturing the next generation of producers? He concluded, that the truly gifted will always shine through. We have stone cold evidence to support this. His name is Happa.

Happa is one alias of Samir Alikhanizadeh, a half-Iranian teenager (or Persian Prince if you prefer) that’s been making heavyweight electronic music look like homework for the last three months, turning heads and garnering fervent support from scene stalwarts like Mary Anne Hobbs, Loefah, Four Tet and underground labels like Church. The most inspiring fact yet, is that he’s been making music for a mere eighteen months. Samir enlightens us, “I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease just over two years ago. I was off school at home with nothing to do. I got tired of watching Jeremy Kyle. I knew about FL Studio (music software) because my brother had shown me it. There was this Chase & Status remix competition and I thought I‘d give it a go. I got hooked from there”.

Through Happa, Samir has just released his first 12”, a double A-side featuring ‘Beat Of The Drum’ and ‘Bring It Back’. The former; a surge of teratoid techno, the latter; dry 808s and chopped up vocals make for some seriously hypnotic house. Those following closely will know these aren’t just two strings to a small bow. His Soundcloud has been teaming dark bass chargers like ‘Hold That Heat’, ‘Freak’ and ‘Boss’ for months, and his remix of Four Tet’s ‘Jupiters’, now scheduled for vinyl pressing, will crack your cranium like a sledgehammer.

At school, his second life barely makes waves, “nobody is bothered about it there. I remember someone told me the other day they saw my name on a poster in Leeds for some Annie Mac thing. Everyone else just listens to chart music”. Of course, he still has to plan his burgeoning electronic career around education, and rightly so. The unsociable hours contribute to his inspiration, and it’s a late night darkness that bleeds into all of his tracks. “I produce late at night. It’s weird, but I like sitting in the dark, listening to music and chilling out. I get back from school around 4pm. I have to eat, then do some work. I can’t start producing until 7pm, so I’m automatically in the darkness. Everything around me influences me...” all this contributes to the way he manipulates his beats, “I pitch everything down. It makes everything darker. I love that really gritty vibe to things”.

When you meet Samir, and it really hits home how young he is, you question how odd it is that he is producing music for an environment he has never truly experienced; the club. Instead of being intimidated by his first exposure to it earlier in the year, he bundled straight in, with a patchwork set up to play off. “It was in Liverpool on a boat party – I got asked to do it but I couldn’t DJ. I didn’t have any equipment, but I had to do it. I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity. So I used a midi keyboard with 8 knobs on top, a modulator, like on ableton, link the knobs to EQ and use the modulation wheel as a cross fader. I had to do it that way for about three gigs”. And to see one of your tracks completely detonate on a dancefloor? Something he witnessed at Corsica Studios quite recently: “It’s ridiculous. It was the Four Tet remix. I actually did a rewind”.

For this brave young lad, the future is bright, and thank god, because there is plenty left to fill, “I’ve been doing a lot of Zadeh (other alias) stuff but it’s under wraps. We’re trying to keep it secretive, and keep the concentration on Happa while it’s all blooming. Through that, a release yet to come on Texted”. It’s a promising start to what is likely to be a fruitful career, as long as the warm electronic community continue to guide this whippersnapper.

Words: Joe Zadeh
Photography: Sam Butt
Fashion: Chris Amfo


Where: Leeds
What: Raw, gritty dance music.
Get 3 songs: ‘Beat Of The Drum’, ‘Bring It Back’, ‘Jupiters (Remix)’
Unique Fact: Not that long ago, Happa was playing Joseph in his school production of Joseph And His Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Jacket By Clothsurgeon, Shirt By Martine Rose

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-