In the north of Mother Africa, desert rhythm meets metropolis roar, and Amine K is Morocco’s ambassador to the music. Amine’s progressive sounds border on the deep. Sweaty faces tell a moving story of the dance entranced. “It’s poetry. It’s a story waiting to be told.” Often greeting sunsets in Marrakech or slipping away at sunrise in Boracay; Amine K has made home to his house infused audio in festival booths and clubs across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia for over 8 years; sharing the bill with the likes of Mandy, Nick Warren, Lee Burridge, Gui Boratto and more. Back home in Africa, Amine asserts that his music ethic belongs to the underground, with the focus on quality dance floor experiences; just bring your dancing shoes.
What was the Moroccan music scene like when you were growing up? What sort of stuff were you into?
The Moroccan scene in the 90s was a lot of hip-hop and mainly dance in the clubs. There were some underground electronic events but I was obviously too young to know about them. It started to be played in mainstream clubs around the beginning of the 2000s. I was mainly into hip-hop until 2000, this is when I discovered house and techno and then turned full on into this genre.
I read that you got into DJing when you were just 14. Is that true? Who were your influences when you first started?
Well DJing is a very general term. At that time I was trying to beatmatch two cassettes and I had a mixer without any EQ, only faders. I really got into it a few years later, scratching and playing vinyls and then I got professionally into it around 2006. In my early days, my main influences were Danny Tenaglia, Hernan Cattaneo, Satoshi Tomiie, Erick Morillo, Nick Warren… Mostly Global Underground stuff but also some proper old school house music.
How would you characterise Moroccan influenced house and techno? How does it differ from other forms of the genres?
There has been a 100% Moroccan influenced house and techno produced lately that consists in taking Moroccan instruments, voices and melodies and incorporating them into electronic music. This music has been made by Moroccan producers but surprisingly also by a lot of international producers who found something special in this music. Actually the whole playa tech music is very influenced by Moroccan and middle eastern music. But in more general terms, if we need to talk about the Moroccan house and techno, it’s a music that has a soul, that lifts you up, it’s emotional, spiritual and groovy.
Your early hit Dar Gnawa is so strikingly Moroccan-influenced, and yet your recent Mayday EP has much more in common with traditional house and techno. Would you say your own sound has developed that way over your career?
I’ve always been a very versatile artist. Dar Gnawa was made at a time when I really wanted to include specific Moroccan sounds into my music, back in the days I was doing semi live sets and remixing everything in the fly. I also built a project with some gnawa [a genre of Moroccan music, featuring spiritual religious songs and rhythms] for a live set that we played at festival Gnaoua in Essaouira. Nowadays I still play some Moroccan influenced music but I mix it with way more other sounds from all over the world. I still have a lot of other tracks to be realised but I’m very picky about what I release and Mayday seemed nice.
In 2009 you founded Moroko Loko as an attempt to revive the underground culture in Morocco. Seven years on, do you think it’s been a success? What’s the club scene like in Morocco?
When we started our crazy project everybody told us it was crazy and it would never work. Seven years later, you have a dozen of promoters, hundreds of DJs and three festivals in two months… I guess we can say there’s definitely been an improvement.
The scene is getting better and better thanks to our crowd who are really passionate and open minded. There’s also a lot of new promoters who are trying to bring something new and are professional and are helping the scene to grow. Obviously it’s not all good but compared to what we had years ago, it’s really great.
What should festival-goers be getting up to in Marrakech?
They should definitely take some time and visit Marrakech’s surroundings. I mean of course Marrakech is a beautiful and unique city, but its surrounding areas like the Lala Takarkouste lake and the Ourika Valley are really worth the drive. There’s also so many hidden gems in the city itself, take your time, ask around, dig and you’ll be surprised.
And finally, how does it feel to be one of the country’s most famous musical exports? Do you feel a greater sense of responsibility at all?
Thanks for the greetings. I might be one of the most famous musical export regarding electronic music but I’m far from being among the biggest ones if we take into account all the other genres.
And to answer your question, yes it is a huge responsibility. I get to represent my country in so many different places in the world, I always need to deliver the best that I got because obviously I’m proud of my country and proud to represent it. This responsibility is actually one of the main things that pushes me to do better every day and work as much as I can to continue on the path that I’m on now.