After A Decade, Amir Hussain Strives For More

“I speak English better than my mother!”

Since the age of 3, Bahrain native Amir Hussain has been taught the English language through his studies at a private international school. “Nine of my lessons were in English, and only two were in Arabic,” said the well-spoken Amir while puffing on his e-cigarette. “I now speak a combination of Arabic and English when I speak to my mother, but I don’t have an interest in Arabic anymore because I can’t express myself as well as I do speaking English.”

Moving to the far reaches of England in 2012, Amir settled in Newcastle to earn his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Newcastle Upon Tyne. From there, he went on to earn his 2017 public relations and marketing master’s degree from Manchester, England’s Northumbria University where ironically, Sam Laxton was attending. Amir’s dissertation topic was “The Role of Social Media Marketing and Digital Public Relations for Artists in the Trance Genre and Sam graciously agreed to interview Amir for his paper (Amir returned the favor by interviewing Sam for his thesis).

The intended outcome from Amir’s efforts was to graduate, find a job in his field back in Newcastle and live his life like any other normal human being. Well, that part has been accomplished as he works, as many well known DJ’s do, full time, at a “real job.”

Amir Hussain. Photo: Martin Grant

“Music is a hobby where you’re getting paid, or you’re doing it full time – there’s no in-between. So the thin line between the two is getting smaller every year, and there’s a reason for this,” said an emotional Amir. He feels that when he was first introduced to Trance in 2008 compared to now, a lot of DJ’s and labels, especially the big boys, are solely focusing on the self-promotion of their brand.” He’s not wrong, “It’s (Music) not an all-inclusive thing, anymore.”

Without naming names, Amir is quite vocal on who these brands are. “A brand that focuses on their artists under their umbrella will be self-promoting their artists to a mad extent where they don’t get the opportunity to sell other artists who are not involved in their brand. As a result, if you don’t belong to any of these brands, you’re always going to have a threshold of how far you can go.”

While it’s true that the majority of music fans don’t recognize the political aspect of the business, for those close to the industry, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Some people think this is the best thing ever,” exclaimed Amir. “The whole ‘Trance Family’ thing is a joke because cliques do exist to the point of it being like high school all over again and unless you’re a part of these cliques, there’s always going to be a threshold.”

And, whether it be our instant gratification culture or just plain laziness, the vast majority of consumers are comfortable with what is presented and will like an artist because they are advertised as such. Most don’t feel the need to explore other artists that are working hard or who are underrated.

Now, the consumer has to find these artists or is it the job of someone else to present it to them? Well, if the artist isn’t signed or doesn’t have a major social media influence, whose fault is that? It’s as if you’re heading into a job interview with no experience, but the position requires “X” number of years in the industry. How are you able to obtain that experience if you don’t have any to begin with? In essence, you’ve already lost because you’re not in the clique. However, how do you get in the clique? See, it never ends. In the music industry, like everything else, it’s often about whom you know rather than what you know.

Amir Hussain. Photo: Martin Grant.

Don’t misperceive Amir, however. He loves this industry as it has afforded him opportunities that otherwise would have never come to fruition. “I could hang up the headphones tomorrow and would have no regrets,” Amir proudly stated. “I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be playing my style of music and getting paid for it!”

Since that beginning year of 2008, the early mentality of starting with progressive and building to 138 much like his early influencer, Above and Beyond used to do, is something Amir looks forward in showcasing if ever offered the chance to play a 6-8 hour set and is currently trying to branch that idea out with his productions.

“I have a Progressive track finished,” Amir stated. “But, unlike Uplifting or Tech, it’s rare to find a Progressive track on its own, anymore. So, I’m working on a B or even C side to the track and find an appropriate label to release it as an EP. This year, Amir is concentrating on Tech and Progressive Trance. “It keeps me on my feet,” Amir confessed. “The styles are more unpredictable and present a greater challenge. Uplifting Trance is predictable.” Uplifting tracks, albeit he enjoys them, are quite easy to mix because the format is the same and after time, they can become “stagnant.”

From the production process, mastering, promotion, distribution and marketing, the process of introducing music is typically not a one person job, yet some people are staunchly glued to the idea that if you don’t make your music from scratch, you’re a fraud. Amir eloquently detailed his views on this subject by saying, “This is not a black and white issue, and honesty is always the best policy.” He continued, “Look; if I go see a DJ who is ghost produced, but they’re honest about it, I’ll give them credit where it’s due.”

Amir Hussain. Photo: Martin Grant.

The thing that Amir stresses is as long as people are honest about their limitations and why they do these things, he’s fine with that. “Look, I’m not a fan of it myself,” Amir said. “But, if they’re not honest about it and I still let it bother me, then that tells me that I’m not working hard enough on my end to better improve myself.”

“The bottom line is that so long as you’re honest, work hard and do your best, you’ll get to where you want to be. That’s how it works!”

And, working hard has earned Amir the opportunity to tour some of the world’s most beautiful countries and cities and wanted to say a special Thank You to the young man who opened for him on his recent tour of America. “I forget the young man’s name who played before me in Houston, TX but he couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 years old,” Amir smilingly said. “But, he played a proper opening set and adhered to the ‘DJ etiquette’ that we all as DJ’s should follow. Thank you; I enjoyed it!”

Amir hopes to continue producing and touring the world with his music, but like so many other artists, he has Tinnitus in his left ear since the age of 19 and encourages anyone who produces or attends club nights on the frequent to invest in proper hearing protection.

As for bucket list items, Amir hopes to one year play Dreamstate in America, perform in South Africa, Argentina and have a #1 hit (His highest is #3).

Edit: As of the writing of this article, Amir has realized another of his bucket list items and is performing live in Egypt along with Solarstone, Simon O’Shine and others at a Trance Wave event.

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Erik Lake

All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted.