Leila Samir is hugely influenced by the indigenous sounds of her native Saudi Arabia: Arabic scales and tonalities, samples of Saudi wedding music, even the traditional rhythmic percussion that still dominates contemporary music can be heard on her incredibly well received More Time Music debut. What isn’t immediately apparent, however, is how she had little to no exposure to Western music until the age of 14.
In a collision of two sonic worlds, the London-based producer and jazz saxophonist inverts and interweaves those Saudi and Arabic tropes with techno structures to thrilling results. It feels liberating and revelationary, like an exploration of self-discovery as Samir carves out a genuinely unique identity with dance music. It’s easy to see why she’s getting early support from the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Gilles Peterson and Antinote founder, Zaltan.
Leila Samir productions can offer calmer moments too. With passages of serene calm between the drum-heavy freneticism and electrified synth work, it seems fitting that her contribution to the Concept In Practice series would demonstrate this in full flow. A mesmeric bliss-out, let it be something of a tonic for a festive season often fraught with anxiety.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix?
I was asked to use a concept surrounding the mix so after some thinking I realised that there is some kind of theme to a lot of the music I listen when I try to soothe myself. I am usually doing some research in the library I tend to take a lunch break by going to the park and listening to music.
When and where was it recorded?
I recorded it last week at HUB16 in Dalston which is a really lovely place if anyone is ever of need to record a mix, because I tried several times to do it at home but I am really inept at technology so gave up and went there.
How would you recommend listening to it?
In a park having lunch by yourself, or talking a walk.
What are your favourite spots to go digging?
Radio! I find a lot of good music through listening to various show on different radio stations. I would find a good song, find the label, look through their releases, etc.
How about the last record you bought?
Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin
Do you have any process when it comes to record store digging?
Not really, I usually feel quite awkward in record stores but I try to look through sections from music I don’t normally listen to.
How did you source the music played in this mix?
Bandcamp and a bit of Soulseek if I can’t find it there.
Between landing your NTS residency and the More Time Music debut, does 2019 feel like a breakthrough year?
It’s been a busy year in terms of music here and there, also been enjoying DJing around as well which I didn’t get to do before producing music. I am looking forward to a more calmer 2020.
How did it feel to hear the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Zaltan and Gilles Peterson were playing your music?
I’ve come from the middle of nowhere in Saudi Arabia so I am really grateful and glad to have that happen to someone like me.
And finally, what’s next on the agenda for Leila Samir?
Making music with other people! It’s been really lovely meeting a lot of local producers this year who probably know much more about electronic music than me. Also, trying to get back into playing saxophone.