Hani, the new-york based remixer best known for his exuberant remix of Sade’s “I never thought I’d see The Day” is case in point . After immigrating to United States from his native Kuwait a more 10 year ago. He was able to quickly graduate from Djing to studio work through hard work and helping hands from friends such as Carl Craig and Deep Dish. Engineering school and internship at the legendary Basshit Studio in New York City two years ago, where he eavesdropped on sessions by such dance music luminaries as Danny Tenaglia, Master at Work, & Roger S. not only made him technically proficient, but also infused him with a deeper understanding of the art of the groove.
From the start, Hani’s approach to the business of remixing is different. We’re talking night and day here. Instead of waiting for offers and playing the political game in highly competitive circle, he sought songs that he enjoyed and work on them at his leisure. After transforming them into little dance floor gems, he politely offered them to the songs original labels as completed remixes. In lesser hands, an approach like Hani’s might’ve been professional suicide, not to mention that the possibility of provoking ridicule from his peers. Luckily for Hani, the confidence in the quality of his output is backed-up by real innate ability. Naturally, labels started taking notice.
It’s ironic that the Sade remix that brought him to prominence was never released commercially, except as a bootleg. Hani is unequivocal about his personal disapproval of these pressings, since they temporarily tarnished his image as a legimate remixer. He nonetheless be grudgingly acknowledges the role these illicit products had played in elevating his profile within the industry.
That’s why it’s especially gratifying from him to learn that AM:PM in England had released his remix of Sting’s “Sister Moon,” which up until now had only been as one of those dodgy white labels. Furthermore, other efforts like his version of “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson was snapped up by Jackson’s label and actually helped in establishing a promotional agenda.
In many ways, Hani’s take-charge approach to the remix business is an extension of his personal and artistic sensibility. He is best described as direct and methodical. In conversation, he parcels out information precisely and efficiently, much the same way he builds his tracks, with no fat. He is open-minded about music and is comfortable with a variety of styles. He can chat with equal enthusiasm about prince (“his remix of “Solo” by prince was turned down by Warner Bros. And is unfortunately/fortunately making rounds as “Color Purple”) and this mortal Coil/Cocteau Twins ( a remix of TMC’s “Song of the siren” done under the moniker Burrito Revolution was one of his first remix efforts). When applied to work, this easy rapport with variety allows him to freely stretch and fuse existing production vocabularies and parameters regardless of genre affiliation.
“I don’t want to feel like i have routine job,” Hani volunteers, “I don’t want to rest on the reputation of a few records and end up doing same thing over and over again.” He emphasizes how moving forward or progressing is a central to his work. “Or else, “he says, “I will be like a fast food restaurant.”
JUDIGING from his current projects, there is no immediate danger of that is happening. He’s found a kindred musical spirit Phillip Damien, himself a veteran of Sade remix hoopla a couple of year back. “Phillip is like a one-man band,” Hani offers,”a real musician who can sketch out production in an afternoon. I like working with him because we think the same way about music.” They have completed a couple of projects together including “Up And Down” by Fader Inc., which is currently out on Yoshitoshi, and the upcoming “The First Day” on Emotive, which Hani claims to be one of his personal favorites.
In a departure from a past stance, Hani has also discovered the joy of production. “I know I realized this a little late,” he relates, “but i really enjoy doing original production.” Hani recently recognized that the elements that appeal to him the most as a remixer, namely the freedom to dictate an aural environment or an emotional impact that did not exist in the original are only more amplified when one is making music from scratch.
“In some ways, it is easier then remixing, “he insists, “You can control everything and decide on the entire musical direction without worrying about the limitations of the original.” He credits his new found interest in production to several positive experiences he had working with the likes of Joi Cradwell and Phillip Damien. “Joi is great, ”he enthuses, “she looked me up , we got together and did the project in three days.” The fruit of their labor, “Soul to Bare” will be out shortly on eight ball.
All in all, what truly distinguishes Hani is has unwavering creative ethos. It’s the foundation of his existence and it’s what makes him answer to a higher authority. For Hani, it’s all about the music and turning up the notch with every session and making jaws drop on the dance floor. It’s not about going backwards or keeping up with Joneses; it’s all about achieving the impossible. Working within a medium which sometimes reluctant to progress and all too often promotes mediocrity, his firm stance remains unmovable. Thank goodness. “i truly look forward to hearing what the future has to offer my mind,“ he says. Indeed, spoken like a true artiste.
Hani’s remix of De’lacy’s “That Look” is out now on Deconstruction.
ESSENTIAL HANI REMIXES
1.De’Lacy “That Look” (Deconstruction)
2.Prince/Color Purple “Solo” (white label)
3.Sade “I Never Thought I’d See The Day” (white label)
4.Quincy Jones “Secret Garden” (unreleased)
5.Lolita “Cocaine” (Emotive)
6.Mariah Carey “Looking In” (Columbia)
7.Repercussions “Promise Me Nothing” (Reprise)
8.Michael Jackson “Earth Song” (Epic)
9.Cassio “I Like You” (Easy Street)
10.Danny Tenaglia “Look Ahead” (Tribal)
The story of the determined and persistent DJ laboring in obscurity for years utile that big break comes in the form of a stellar remix is a stuff of dance music folklore. Many of today’s respected producer/remixers can relate to such tale of trails and tribulation as a new generation of funky, brash and innovative technicians are exploding onto the scene with relatively modest time spent playing those traditional dues.
While the different path taken by these jacks do not necessarily translate into music that is any more or less valid then those of their predecessors, their attitude about the music, however, have already had considerable impact how things are done in the industry as a whole.
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Hani has brought a fresh musical perspective to the New York house scene completely on his own terms. Instead of dodging A&R execs for work, he seeks out his own projects and then his magic to labels. His method might be unconventional, but his music is nothing short of brilliant.
Story by Andy Shih
Photography by Christian Lantry