I got to sit down and talk with producer/DJ and record label head Saeed Younan after his set at Sundown Music Festival this weekend. Born in Iraq, and currently based in Washington DC, Saeed is a veteran of the house music scene, only those in the know truly appreciate his blend of tech/progressive house with tribal percussion. Fresh off his set at Erick Morillo’s Subliminal Stage, we talked about his takes on where the music scene is headed and some of his career highlights.
Hi Saeed. For those of us who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself, where you came from, how did you get into music, and where will you go with it in the future?
“My name is Saeed Younan and I just played Sundown Festival, and if anyone doesn’t know much about me, go to saeedyounan.com, I’ve got a record label, I’m also a producer and I’ve been doing this professionally since 1998. Since 1988, high school, I started as a hip-hop DJ, so I’ve been in it for a long time.”
Over those years, what are a lot of the changes that you’ve seen in the scene and in the music from when you first started to what it is now, where it’s on such a grand scale?
“When I got into it, it was more progressive house, it was actually a different genre from what they call progressive house now. Progressive house was actually more like tech house back then, we’re talking 98-99. What I got really famous for, my signature sound was incorporating progressive house with tribal, more percussive kind of stuff. So, that kind of opened up a whole new door, everybody that understood what I was trying to do, this is the direction I was going. So I started a label called Addictive Records. Addictive Records was launched around 1999, and I was kind of championing that sound of tribal/progressive house. If you look up tribal/progressive house, I guarantee you’ll see Saeed & Palash, which me and my partner formed back in 1999. That’s the music that I got into and I feel that’s still a part of me. What you heard today was very percussive, very bass-y, just a good groove, you know.”
I heard you were with Carl Cox in Ibiza for a little bit. What was it like hanging with Carl for a week, and tell me some memories you have of Ibiza since Space is closing.
“I played the 14th week, the 15th week will be the last. I’ve played Space many times, it’s amazing to do stuff with Carl. When he had a residency in Vegas, I was his go to guy, so for two years, we played Vegas together, every three months. He likes the way I do things, so he likes me to set up the night for him. For me, closing Space, everything came full circle. The first time I ever played Space it was in 2001. It was Carl, me, Digweed, Sasha, and Steve Lawler, that was my first Space gig, so to close out Space with Carl, Digweed, minus Sasha, minus Steve Lawler, it’s still a special thing. It’s almost like coming full circle, my first gig was with him, my last gig was with him, so we have an amazing relationship. I stayed with him at his villa, he’s an amazing person to be around, his energy is unbeatable.”
Looking back on 2016, what have been some highlights and what have you learned while being a veteran DJ/producer?
“What I learned in 2016 is Ibiza probably needs to take a step back. The way I feel Ibiza is going, a lot of it is very Vegas-driven. I learned that by visiting Ibiza this year, and knowing the direction it’s going might be a bit too commercial. But, I think that’s why Carl and everybody is taking a step back, trying to figure out what to do after Space shuts down. That’s a learning curve for me, another learning curve for me is how the music is changing, how the scene is changing, how social media is changing. There’s so much going on in 2016 that happen in 2015 or 2014. So, you have to kind of stay either a step ahead or with the time in order to keep yourself progressing. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for quite awhile and you have to always find away to stay ahead of the game. It gets tricky, but it’s fun.”
What else do you have in store for the rest of 2016 and going into 2017, what can your fans expect from you?
“I just did Ibiza and now I just did Sundown Festival, I go to Connecticut, after Connecticut, I just picked up a new residency in my hometown, Washington DC, at Soundcheck, so I’m doing that. The BPM Festival, I’ve done it for seven years in a row, so we’re going to be doing that next year. WMC, obviously, so the ball keeps going and going and going. I’m at a point where every thing’s aligning, as far as my sound goes, as far as the people I’m working with, labels that I’m working with, so 2017 looks just perfect.”
Tell the fans a little something about yourself that you do when you’re not behind the decks or working on music. What other endeavours do you have.
“I’m a very outdoors-y person, so I enjoy snowboarding, I go skating once in awhile, mountain-biking, I still have that little kid in me.”
Any words or messages for the fans?
“If you’re really into what I’m doing and really want to know more about me, visit my soundcloud, my Facebook, I’m always uploading new videos. I’m always responding to everybody, I do everything myself, I know I have a network of management and accomplices, but what you see is what you get.”
If you’re in the DC area make sure to check out Saeed’s new residency at Soundcheck on October 7. If you missed his set at Sundown, check out his BPM 2016 Spotify playlist, “Join the Tribe” below.