Dynoman On Karachi’s Scene, Producing, SXSW & ‘That Crummy Hard Drive’
Image credit: Humayun M
“I have an update for you. My hard drive is dead and I have lost the entire album. I have backups from April but am not sure what is backed up and how much progress is backed up. So yeah my life sucks.”
Around April/May of this year, Dynoman aka Haamid Rahim, dropped a line to say that the next installment to his 2014 concept album, ‘Travels to Janaicah’, would be arriving very soon and wanted to know if we’d be interested in doing an exclusive. Yes, please.
He had 40 tracks or so ready to go, envisioning a ‘quadrilogy’ of releases, each furthering the story of Cheebay, the album’s protagonist or that little boy you see on the cover.
To prepare us he shared a 50 minute mix (that was also briefly on SoundCloud), hoping to debut a couple of numbers on these very pages.
The mix itself reflected a Dynoman who hadn’t changed, but had expanded. This wasn’t your clichéd ‘evolution’ that so often is attached to sophomore attempts, it was an expansion; 2 years in the life of an artist who had gone from co-founding Karachi electronica collective, Forever South to post grad student in the US. Along the way Haamid had become a married man with a 9 to 5 but he still remained the beat making Dynoman.
Weaving in and out of pretty much every genre, the sample was part jazz, electronica, deep house and club, thumping all the way through its 51 minute runtime, an album in itself. But alas, the digital gods had something else in mind, frying a lone circuit, letting it surge its corruption, stirring a butterfly there to create a storm here.
But Haamid was equanimous.
In his sans souci tone, that is either typically Karachi or comes with being up early on Saturday for an interview, Haamid did not kick things off with a lament but a rumination, going on at length about the scene back in the port city but then also his time in America, working with new talent, playing at SXSW and of course that crummy hard drive. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Image credit: Camerawalla Studios
On Karachi and the Scene
“Pakistan kay halat kaisay hain? [How are things in Pakistan?] Bas aap logon nay Prime Minister saab ko tabdeel kia baqi toh teek hain” [you guys got rid of the Prime Minister (referring to the recently disqualified PM), everything else is fine].
“Mein nay kya kia hai yaar [what have I done man] I am a silent supporter of art. But yeah it’s cool man, Pakistan is going awesome time. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Karachi recently from some jaded friends. They’re having a blast. A lot of people have moved there, involved in the film industry.
But I was quite sad to hear that, what could have been FXS supporters, are there now but there’s nobody really there to capitalize on what we were trying to set up.”
“Hmm, did you ever feel that your set of people were a little incestuous? That they were happy being around one another but not really getting out there?”
“Yeah, so this could be a great conversation for another piece but I’ve given this one a lot of thought. What happened was a mixture of immaturity, egoism, fear, paranoia; a cliqueness […] Everyone who chose us had the same sound but what we also forgot to address is that everyone who chose us also had the same mentality. So unknowingly we became very incestuous. We were super inclusive but we were also difficult to find.
When I was younger, when Bilal [aka Rudoh, co-founder of FXS] was younger, we developed a rogue, renegade style, we didn’t really focus too much on infrastructure. I guess we were focusing on trying to make the best music we could. But we did play a part in creating something, and this is something I realized when I left.
But you know what sucks? Being in Karachi, I realised, so many people who have such delicious music – they’re just so bloody lazy. Who made that song ‘Parklife’? Atif Farooq right? [an electronica musician from Islamabad]. If you could get a guy like him to make four ‘Parklife’ or Rudoh to make four ‘All About You’, if you could get Slow Spin to make four of her second album ‘Biome’, if you could make Nawksh, if you could make these people actually make these stand a test of time stuff and do a global push, I guarantee you, it would spawn a new culture.”
Never one to kick back and relax, Haamid had just released Eridu’s album on FXS’ new imprint, FXS Music, was producing TMPST’s first album, while also working with wunderkinds Abdullah Siddiqui and Hatim and planning a possible vinyl release for ‘FXS Collections 5’.
“Hatim is the awesomemest. Hatim is great, man. He has so many questions, he’s so motivated. Abdullah is phenomenal. And they’re both just in their ‘O’ levels, actually giving them right now so those projects are on hold until then.
I asked a lot of Abdullah. What I like about him, is like me, he’s super hard on himself, but he takes criticism really well. When I was working on ‘Barefoot’ [a collab the two did for ‘FXS Collections 5’], let’s just say I asked a lot of him and he gave me everything. It was really cool. And dude, that project nearly didn’t happen. And I knew instantly that he was phenomenal ‘cause when I sent him the lyrics and the beat, he sang it just how I wanted him to and that’s what got me really turned on to vocalists, leading to work with L.U.G [Layari Underground]. Working with them was so much fun and I actually went through a phase where I wanted to release an album of just singers in Pakistan. I’m dying to produce stuff for Faris Shafi.”
On the Hard Drive
“I always had a fear that my computer was on its last legs. It was from 2011. You could feel it. It survived all the gigs in Karachi and it survived all the gigs all over the world. Luckily I had backed up everything in April, I thought I was going to be absolutely devastated, cause I was kind of, well, not prepared but I always thought about it. And after it happened and I went to get it checked up, and they said they could access parts of the hard drive, so instantly, what should have been an awful shock, just dissipated to ‘oh it’s OK, it’s not a big deal’.”
“Absolutely. I’ll tell you what sucked. I’ve been putting off releasing this album for a really long time. As a musicians journey for me, I usually psyche myself down, but for the first time in a long time, I had psyched myself up, accepting to put stuff out. I had put together a couple of mixes for the 3 albums and got very conducive responses on certain songs, and I thought to myself, this is a great album, cause ‘Naubahar’ and ‘Travels to Janaicah Vol 1’, I felt were a great taste of what I can offer, but awfully put together albums.”
Did you just say ‘awfully’? Why would you say that?”
“I think I was a lot more immature as a musician. I had a lot of stuff going on at the time, so music would come once every 3 months, so you’d come in to it with layers of skin you’d just want to shed. So it all became very rough so there was no definition of this is Dynoman. Or Haamid Rahim the sound artist. Or Haamid the event organizer. So all of these were kinda fighting.”
“SXSW was great. I think that was the peak of my equipment owning career haha! I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it because I was hardcore in the middle of my masters programme. But I was able to finally do something that I was strong about. I was featured in the Pakistan showcase with the Faheem Allan Fakir Troupe and Overload and the Driskill Hotel. It was cool, I really wanted to do it justice.”
“You musta been psyched?”
“I was but I kinda had a feeling of what was going to happen. You had a really cool mixture of crowd. The sound sounded great. The set, I had a lot of fun, I Facebook Live’d it but then after the gig, it was the best thing. Cause the Faheem Allan Faqir troupe came up to me and were so psyched about the music, and I was so excited, that people really appreciated it, and they were all like, ‘how did you teach yourself this? How did you find yourself making this kinda music?’ It was really nice ‘cause a lot of people were asking the ‘how’?”
“Last time we spoke, you weren’t married, you didn’t have a master’s degree, you weren’t in New York, and you didn’t have a job. A lot has changed. Has that affected your goals? Or your music?”
“I don’t think anything’s really changed. I think the journey has brought me closer to my goals. If I didn’t do this masters [in Entertainment Industry Management], I wouldn’t have figured out the road on how to get my goal. The job would not have given me the money to achieve my goal. And without my wife I would not have had the inspiration to do my goal, haha! Let’s just say I’m an overly ambitious guy. I’m not going to stop dreaming, I’m only 27.”
written by Rahim Khan