An Interview with Happa

Leeds based Samir Alikhanizadeh, aka Happa, has been making waves in the UK underground scene with his bass heavy, industrial techno music. And aside from all the enthusiastic conversations he’s happened to stir throughout the music community (Four Tet, Mary Anne Hobbs and James Blake are endorsing him!), people are talking about his age. He’s only 16, but don’t let it distract you from his music! It’s quite a forceful and ominous presence, with the stomach punching bass lines that help to create a violent and gritty resonance. Then comes the calm after the storm: it’s soothing to know someone so young and with such a good ear for music is breathing life into a style of music that is often the pursuit of an outdated crowd. We caught up with Happa just before the Simple Things Festival 2014, Bristol.


BC: What was it like growing up in Leeds? How did your environment shape your musical preferences?

H: It was/is great! I really do love the area, especially due to the fact that I’m so close to the Yorkshire Dales. I don’t know if it did [shape my musical preferences], really. I’ve never massively been into any Leeds scenes at all if I’m honest.


BC: Tell us about your first experiences with music, as well as some of the artists and musical styles that have informed your sound. 

H: The first artist I can remember liking was James Brown when I was about 6. It wasn’t until I was about 10 or 11 when I properly fell in love with music, thanks to Dubstep. It was from there that the love grew to a passion as I discovered more and more incredible music. I think everything that has ever passed through my ears must have inspired me in some way or another, yet the prominent genres that have informed my sound, have probably been Dubstep, Techno and Noise music.


BC: What are your biggest inspirations for creating music? Tell us about some of your major influences, musicians or otherwise. 

H: Musician wise, I have found a lot of inspiration in people like Talking Heads, Shit & Shine and Bernard Parmegiani recently. Otherwise I have found my friends to be very inspiring and influential. However, in the grand scheme of my career so far, my mood has been the most inspiring, influential force for me.


BC: You’re only 16 years old! We think it’s amazing you’re making waves in the club scene at such a young age. What interested you most about the club atmosphere before you were old enough to experience it for yourself? 

H: I think it was probably the energy. The organic (or maybe more chemically driven) energy, of which I had never experienced until I was thrown into the alien world that was clubs. Also, the lack of dancing to certain tracks that would have made me go nuts (please excuse me sounding like your bog standard Boiler Room commenter).


BC: What was your first gig like? How does it compare to your current performances?

H: It was scary. Close to empty and scary. I would say they’re less scary now, and usually not empty.


BC: What’s happening with your other project, Zadeh

H: I’m afraid this is another “I don’t know.” It’s pretty dormant at the moment, but I would like something to happen within it in the future.


BC: How has your music evolved since that remix of Jupiter? 

H: Speaking in terms of what is released, I think it has become stronger, meaner and harder, but also less soulful, and so speaking in terms of unreleased material, I think it has become a bit more soulful… if that makes sense.

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BC: In 2012, you had an interview with Clash Magazine and you said that one of your future plans was to establish your own record label. Can you please tell us about this journey and what it means to you?

H: At the time I just really liked the idea of having this record label, with an identity and a sound, and to be able to share some incredible music with people, and that view hasn’t changed a bit. Since then I have started PT\5 with Al and my management, and it hasn’t been a massively quick process, but it’s finally up and out there, and I am so proud and excited to see the first release on sale.


BC: Witch, Truss and Shifted have already featured on your new record label. Who else we will see on PT/5 records?

H: Myself and Al. That’s all I can say at the moment really.

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BC: Your tracks are admired by the likes of Skream, Zed Bias, Four Tet, Mary Anne Hobbs, Cosmin TRG and even James Blake. How do you feel about getting such positive feedback from these influential musicians? 

H: It’s a unique feeling that I can’t really describe over email. So I’ll just say super fucking sick m888888!!!!!


BC: We have learned that you are suffering from Crohn’s disease and if it was not this disease, you would probably be doing something completely different. How are you feeling at the moment? 

H: Yeah, I’m doing pretty well, actually. Thank you for asking. It hasn’t had much of an appearance within my life over that past year which has been refreshing.


BC:How does your family feel about you touring with your illness? 

H: They are okay with it now. They know that I have reached a point where I know my body well enough to tell if I need that extra bit of sleep or whatever.


BC: Do you have any other professional ambitions outside of music?

H: At the moment I would just quite like to try to get involved in all the other corners of ‘the arts’.


BC: You have played in a couple big festivals now. Which one is your favourite? 

H: I can’t pick my favourite but the most memorable was Lowlands festival, as it was huge. Biggest tent/venue I’ve ever played.


BC: What are your future plans? Do you have any new and exciting projects at the moment? 

H: My future plans at the moment are to evolve the Happa sound, build up a following for PT/5, get involved within other art forms and just to keep on learning shit.


BC: What are some of your favourite tracks you’ve created?

H: Probably Hallucinations and a few things that only exist on my computer.

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BC: Do you have any music recommendations for our readers?

H: Hum by Adult Jazz is one of my favourite songs at the moment. You Got Me by Theoretical Girls is a cool song… erm, One Track Lover from Gareth Marenghi is a banger. Oh and the Vent EP by Witch course!


Happa interview Bizarre Culture 

BC: You are lined up to play at Simple Things Festival in Bristol along with big names such as Caribou, Actress and Dark Sky, just to name a few. We’re going, too! What should we expect from you there? 

H: Some bangers, some tear jerkers and some music that you can’t dance to because it doesn’t have a beat, sorry.


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