When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from America’s capital city, the Washington, D.C.-based house-music talent Saeed Younan.
What’s it like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time? Living in the D.C. area has been tough. Even food venues in D.C. can operate at low capacity, but DJs aren’t allowed to be behind some decks playing music, even when it’s just dining. I spent most of my time making music and also setting up a Patreon account for my fans and music lovers, creating production tutorials and exclusive content.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Yes, I lost a lot of important gigs. I was scheduled to release an album last year, followed by a big tour. So all that got postponed.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? Like I said, I launched a Patreon account, creating exclusive content – live video tutorials, DJ tool edits, and unreleased music for my monthly subscribers. I also started selling used records, from my vast collection of doubles, and dabbled in short-term investing, like cryptocurrencies. Just trying to make up for lost income due to the pandemic.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I finished and modified my first full-length artist album, Morph, which is now coming out in May of this year. I also updated my studio layout – got rid of some gear that I wasn’t using to create more space. I released a few singles, created a new series called “Low Lit Division” on my label, Younan Music. I also released music on Magna Recordings, Delicious Recordings, and a remix on Lafayette Street Records.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? I use Ableton Live and Logic – but my go-to DAW for full-on production is Logic. I love Rob Papen SubBoomBass 1 and 2 – they are my go-to VSTs for 90-percent of my basslines. I still have a TASCAM DA-40 [DAT recorder] to play and reuse some of my sample libraries that I’ve saved on DATs throughout the years.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I always start with an idea in my head from tracks that I play out. Create a similar simple groove and work around that to build something.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? Just like everything else in my life, I like keeping things simple and comfortable to work with. I normally use three decks, two for playing and one for sampling. The third deck is always hooked up to an external delay pedal going to a Pioneer mixer for added special effects on dry a cappellas or sounds.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? That you can do so much to improve your skills as a DJ and producer – also, finding time for yourself to reflect inward and do some “inner engineering.”
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? To be honest, I haven’t had much time to go live on Twitch, but I have been doing a few vinyl live-streams on Facebook and my YouTube channel. It has definitely increased my reach to fans and DJs during the pandemic. The most impressive DJ streams I’ve watched have been Carl Cox Cabin Fever. The man is unstoppable. Even during a pandemic, he is still the hardest-working DJ in the business.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Ultra Naté’s “Free.” The message may not be in-your-face obvious – just gotta read between the lines on this one.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Stop watching the news! Go outside, play, go hiking, get into gardening, enjoy the sunshine or the rain.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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