Interview: Richy Ahmed Talks Hot Creations, Guilty Pleasures and his favorite clubs

We caught up with British house music aficionado, Richy Ahmed, to talk A&R, his home town and his favourite new music tips
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We caught up with British house music aficionado, Richy Ahmed, to talk A&R, his home town and his favourite new music tips

A regular on the Ibiza grid and one of the guys behind dance music imprint, Hot Creations, Richy Ahmed is a name you’re sure to be au fait with.

Playing at some of the most infamous clubs in the world, Watergate, DC10 and Space to name a few, and charting releases on Lower East, Mexa and One Records, he’s become a dignitary on the British house music scene over the past few years.

We chatted briefly with Richy about the scene in his hometown, the important lessons he’s learned and how he keeps his head above water in the DJ world.

Let's start by delving back into the past. What's your earliest musical memory?

Listening to Diana Ross records with my mum on a Sunday afternoon when she was cooking her roast.

So did you parents play a part in your musical upbringing? 

Yeah, my mum and dad were really into soul, RnB, funk and Motown. That's what I was brought up listening to.

Home is South Shields in the North East, what was the scene like there and in Newcastle when you were growing up?

Not the best musically. A lot of happy hardcore crap high-energy music. Either that or just pop and chart music. There wasn't really anything trendy or any sort of scene going on that I would be into now. Newcastle was a lot more US house and Garage but Shields was just party music, all happy hardcore rave.

There was a club called the After Dark which was like an all night rave where all the young ones would go because you didn't have to be 18 to get in. You could get in at 16 because they didn't sell alcohol, but it was open all night. Everyone was full of Es. It was quite a rough and aggressive club where everyone used to just go because it was open all night. The music was disgusting, all MCs and that... I mean I quite liked it at the time, but it wasn't great. 

Bringing things up to speed a bit, how did your relationship with Hot Creations begin? Do they give you a lot of freedom when it comes to producing? 

With Hot Creations, I was there when it started really. I knew Jamie [Jones] really well and he told me he was doing this label with his friend from the US and the first few releases started. Then I put a Hot Creations party on in Sonar and I got to play after Jamie and Lee [Foss]. That was when they saw that I was into it and had the talent. Eventually they asked me to come on board and take the A&R down a more varied route. At the time it was more disco and groovy stuff and I think Jamie wanted a bit of a turn in the way the music was going, or at least a little bit more variation.

When it comes to producing, I have a lot of freedom, it's pretty much anything I want to do or make. Jamie just always asks that if it's a hot record I keep it for us, that's all.

How, if at all, has being a part of the Hot Creations crew changed your sound or production over the years, and have you learnt many valuable lessons?

Yeah, I've learnt a lot of lessons. Being an A&R in itself is a very valuable lesson in producing and DJing. When you're the A&R for a big label like us or many others, you get to see the way trends are going. I get loads of demos from young producers, and they start to sound the same way. You can see a trend before it happens, so it allows me to move away from that trend and try to do something a bit ahead of it or different.

My sound has changed too, when you're DJing and playing in bigger rooms you start to make the kind of music that you want to play in that room. When I first started I was in smaller and deeper venues but as you go bigger you need to project a bigger sound, more techno and more of a tougher sound. Eventually you can also go backwards and do deeper stuff but when you do a lot of DJing you want tunes that you can play in the middle of your set. I need something that will work in front of 2000 people as well as a small room. 

By extension, have you learnt anything from being a part of the DJ world? How do you keep your head above the water with all the non-stop parties and traveling?

I try to keep as healthy as I can and try to find a balance. The job is amazing but it's hard and can swallow you up.

We can imagine! Being on the road a lot you have probably ticked off clubs all over the world, but is there a venue you always love coming back to?

Amnesia and DC10. They both feel like home. I'd been raving in those clubs every week so when you get to play them it's really special. You always watch the DJs and try to think if that was me, what would I do? So I always try to put that theory into practice.

Moving on to musical tastes, what record never leaves your bag?

'Tania' by Harry 'Choo Choo' Romero.

Yes - big track! Do you have any guilty pleasures you can let us in on?  

I love power ballads, like Adele and stuff. 

Well we all love a power ballad. Any artists you want to big up? Who should we be listening to right now?

I think you should be listening to Elliot Adamson and Man Power.

Thanks for the tips. So looking ahead, you're playing Boundary in Brighton at the end of the summer, are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, I love Brighton and I'm playing the Elrow stage which is always a great party to play. It seems like a really big party for Brighton and it's a good line up so let's hope the weather holds out.

For sure, fingers crossed! Aside from Boundary what else is on the horizon in 2016? Anything we should know about?

Big 4ThirtyTwo parties - there's three amazing parties coming to the UK and I'm starting the label too. The first release is from myself, coming out at the end of the summer. It'll be followed by another three to four releases that I'm super excited about.

You can catch Richy playing on the Elrow stage at Boundary Festival in Brighton on 17 September - for tickets and more information visit the website.

Credit: Khris Cowley - Here & Now

Credit: Khris Cowley - Here & Now