German version of the interview: Fatima Hajji – Süchtig nach Techno
The techno power of women is ubiquitous. Besides Deborah de Luca, Charlotte de Witte, Amelie Lens and many other up-and-coming female DJs, there is a whirlwind from Spain that mixes up the international techno scene. Curtain up for Fatima Hajji!
Hello dear Fatima, how are you? Have you been enjoying a nice summer so far?
Hi, I am pretty fine and glad to be here, thank you. My whole year has been amazing so far, but summer – with its open air parties, meetings and good vibes in general – is always the best time of the year.
You are from Salamanca. What kind of music do Salamanca people listen to and what is their opinion on techno music?
Yes, I was born in Salamanca and I was living there for 18 years. During this time, the most popular kind of Techno was a dark, groove-based and stomping one. My own individual taste developed from the sound that I listened to during the first dance music events I attended and mostly from what I would listen to at home. I had been listening to Techno music way before I was legally allowed to enter clubs. I used to “steal” my older brother’s tapes with sets recorded live from near-by clubs, where some international DJs would perform.
Where do you live now and what are the most notable contrasts in comparison to your hometown?
After living in the city centre for about 10 years, I have now moved into a small town in the mountains near Madrid airport – in the middle of a forest. The population of my hometown Salamanca is about 100.000. It is a place, where everyone knows everyone. In Madrid, everything is bigger and there are way more options. Especially concerning electronic music, you can find several events with different musical styles on the same weekend. Also, living close to the airport makes things easier for me.
Can you tell us something about your childhood and yourself? What was your dream job as a child?
I would consider my childhood as a tough time. I started working at a very young age and my school days were not very nice. From the very beginning, I knew music was going to be an important aspect of my life. At the age of 12, I started to mix with tapes at home. One day I found an advert offering “DJ classes”. This was when I started to learn how to mix vinyl and I did not even tell my friends or family about it. I found it very funny and easy to mix which was very motivating. I could not stop doing it.
When and where did you find music? And what did your first gig look like?
At the place where I learnt to mix, they sold records as well (and also clothes and more), so they gave me 5 vinyls. Afterwards, I bought some vinyl records for a friend who used to buy them in Madrid. After introducing me, he went on to sell them to more and more people in Salamanca. He was the local techno dealer so to say.
About my first gig: it was a contest/competition only a few weeks after I had learnt to DJ. My teacher signed me up for it and it took place in a very cool club in Salamanca. All my friends, my brothers and also their friends were very excited about of what might happen at the contest, it was so crazy and also a lot of pressure. When it was my turn to perform, I played some techno with hard bass – the style of the contest was free – and luckily I did some good mixes. I don’t even know how I did this as I was very nervous. But the best thing about the situation was the crowd which was completely hooked. They went crazy! It was just a magical feeling of connection which I will never forget.
What was your first big release and how does it differ from today’s releases?
One of my first successful releases was my track “Violins”, a hard-bootleg remix of a song by Rai (a form of Algerian folk music) singer Cheb Khaled. People loved it and I used to play it in many of my sets along with some Hard Techno. To this day, people are requesting this track quite often and I still play it on special occasions.
Currently, I see myself in a completely different range when producing techno. My new productions are quite different compared to what I used to release, but I try to keep on with the stomping basses.
How would you characterize your personal relationship to music?
It’s my life. This is what I love and what I live for. I can’t imagine myself doing anything different right now.
At your gigs and on photos you always put on a decent poker face. But if you look at some of your recent YouTube interviews, you will notice that you are a very lovable woman. Does the image an artist has, play an important role when it comes to being successful in the music industry?
Thanks for the compliment. When images at parties are taken, I am usually focussing. But at photo studios, it is a bit more difficult for me, as I am not good at posing.
In our era, the image you have is very important, because people will always keep it in their mind. Although, I am sure that it is much more important to appear natural. Just be yourself and let the music speak instead of trying to feign something.
You should always take care of your image, but make sure that you appear happy and don’t try to disguise your self in order to please other people.
In the course of your career, you became able to get a good overview of the changes in electronic music over the last 20 years. You started in 1999. Was there a time during this period you would consider as unforgettable?
I’ve had many unforgettable moments during the last 20 years. I can’t mention them all, but especially my first set in front of the people I mentioned above, will always remain in my memories. I also remember the times when I drove all the way through Spain, from corner to corner.
An epic one was my first time at Florida 135 and also each Monegros Festival appearance, especially the time where I played the opening set of my tent. At first, the floor was empty, but each time I went to grab a vinyl, more and more people joined until it became the perfect situation to make an unforgettable party. Of course, all the Awakenings and Tomorrowland festivals I’ve played at, my All Night Long events at Fabrik Madrid and Depot Amsterdam plus many more amazing events. Also, every country I have visited has given me a memory and a new vision of our planet. I am so happy to live this life and I am very grateful for every new experience. It gives me more power to keep on working hard every day to improve myself.
Electronic music has rather become a business than a philosophy of life in recent years. How did you perceive this change and what are your wishes for the future of dance music?
The scene has significantly grown during the past two decades. The audience has grown as well and there are more professionals at all levels. Besides, there is more money involved which brings positive and negative aspects. In general, this shows that the electronic scene and especially Techno has become an attitude to life which is growing and exploring many different styles. There are more producers than ever and there is more music than ever (it is impossible to listen to all of the new stuff released every week). Also, there are more quality events, better sound systems and of course more clubbers who are making the scene bigger every day. We can choose to focus on positive aspects like this growth or on the negative ones. My experience tells me to choose what you like and try to boost it and make it bigger. If you waste your time on things you don’t like, you help them gaining popularity and you are also wasting your energy.
I think Techno as a scene is mostly made up of passionate people, there is a community around, living it, travelling just to feel the vibe every weekend. These are the points that make it great and sustainable for a long time. So I would like to be optimistic and even with the tensions generated by business and money in the middle of this movement, the music will speak louder and the community will keep growing globally.
Please tell us about your latest releases and the inspiration behind them.
My latest EP was called “Melodream” because the main track was a melody that I had in my head during a waking state. At this time I ran to my studio and produced it (this doesn’t happen quite often), so it was very special one for me.
What type of equipment are you using for your productions?
For my productions, I use Ableton Live. I also have a Roland TB-303 that helps me a lot with basses. In addition to that, the Roland TR-909 is great for rhythms. I also use Bass Station for Midi.
Many of your tracks have been released on your own label Standbite Music.
Standbite was my first label, where I released all my hard stuff. At the end of this stage, it became very difficult for me to play fresh sets with new music and even release music on my label as there were no new records being made. As a result, I became more interested in producing Techno. I decided to start by launching a new brand and a weekly radio show which allowed me to submerge myself with techno sounds over the past 2 years and helped me to discover a new phase of my musical career.
You are talking about Silver M?
Yes, this is my current platform where I release some of my music and favorable productions from other artists. Many of our releases came in via e-mail for demos that we have on our websites/social media channels. From this selection, I choose what I think will fit. I don’t care about names, previous releases or other stuff, it is just the sound that counts. I just listen and trust my ears.
For me, this is a way to give something back (in musical form) to the scene. Sometimes I am also honored with some of my beloved producers who want to be part of the label.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am focusing on the development and improvement of my studio skills; I haven’t released anything in the last months but I am working more than ever on studio productions. The reason behind this is that I wasn’t quite happy with my recent creations. I want to be more selective with my own tracks as a producer. At this moment, I can say that I am close to finishing some powerful tracks with a really new sound which really satisfies me. Producing is a long-distance career, where you never stop learning. The learning process always continues and it always gives you the feeling to be more diligent. Consequently, following your instinct can be an important key to feel happy with your own work.
Did it ever happen that you didn’t make it into the studio in time and the melody got lost in your head?
Hahaha, every day. I think it is more a mental illusion than a fact, but I know this feeling very well.
Was there a moment in the course of your career where you wanted to throw everything away because the constant traveling took you with it?
No, I am pleased to do what I do, and traveling is part of this. I only need to organize my time to sleep. Every time when I am on a plane or in the car, I can rest a bit which is highly appreciated by me.
Looking at your tour schedule, I notice that you spend a lot of time in Spain. I can imagine that the time in your home country gives you a lot of strength. Are there places where you have similar feelings?
In fact, last year I had more dates out of Spain, but it is true that my favorite country to play in is Spain. I am lucky to have a big number of people in Spain supporting my work as the clubbers are so energetic. It is always a pleasure to play in my home country. I am also honored to have this same feeling in some other countries like Portugal and the Netherlands and some areas like the Baltic countries and Italy. There are other places I do not attend regularly like South or North America. However, I feel the connection with these countries as well. Overall, Techno is a global thing and the people who share the same passion give me positive feelings.
You can’t deny that you have a steep career. How does that feel for you? Is your family proud of you?
I have been working hard since the very beginning and for some reason, I cannot stop. I like to improve myself every day so it is nothing to be proud of. It is just a way to be and to exist.
There are many strong women in the electronic music business at the moment. Do you have an explanation for this? Is there any role model you could think of?
The explanation is quite simple: it is time. It was a question of time as society slowly approaches the equality of men and women. Nowadays, women have the same opportunities as men. Therefore, more women are reaching the electronic scene. Especially in Techno, people choose their favorite stuff by the DJ’s musical selection, the skills and the energy he or she provides. Gender, skin color and other factors do not matter at all.
What are your top five tracks of all time?
Yeke Yeke – Mory Kanté
Freed from Desire – Gala
La Real – Surgeon
Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigy
Minus Orange – Richie Hawtin
From the FAZEmag 091
Authors: Sofia Kröplin/Sven Schäfer