Saeed Younan: Finding Inspiration In Iraq

LYFSTYL reached out to Saeed Younan (world class globe-trotting DJ, recording artist, and sought-after remix producer) to talk about his creative influences, the evolution of dance music, his record label, and various other topics. Check it out below!

Growing up, what was your first experience with music? How old were you when you knew that you wanted to pursue a career in music? Was your family supportive of that decision?

When I lived in Iraq back in the late 70’s early 80’s (when I was 7 years old), I use to surf the AM/FM radio listening to international music, mainly American music. I was really into groups like ABBA. Since, it was hard to purchase American music in Iraq, I always had a blank tape in my radio/tape recorder waiting for good music to come on, so I could record and play it back to myself. I was basically creating mixtapes before there was such a thing as mixtapes at the age of seven.

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music, while I was in high school and got a chance to mess around with my first pair of turntables. Of course, my parents were not supportive at all and thought I was wasting valuable time in the basement playing music, instead of doing my homework or studying for exams. I think all parents think the same, when you’re only in high school.

Who are your biggest creative influences? Who are you biggest supporters?

My biggest DJ /Producer influences and supports have been Danny Tenaglia, Carl Cox and many more. I’ve also been influenced by New Order, Black Flag, Big Audio Dynamite, Del La Soul, Radiohead, Bjork, King Tubby and the list goes on and on. My musical pallet is extremely divers.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment to date? What has been your biggest challenge?

Good question. It’s hard for me to narrow down one big accomplishment. I think every accomplishment is big in its own way. Nothing in this business has ever come easy for me. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and it’s been a grind to say the least. I’ve worked my ass off to get to where I am today. I’ve had many ups and downs and a lot of battles with crooked, narrow minded managers, lawyers, promoters and label owners. I’ve dealt with it all.

What has been your favorite experience? Do you have a favorite city or venue to perform in?

I must say, this year has been amazing for me. Not only did I get to play some of the biggest festivals in the Americas, such as the The BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen, Ultra Music Festival in Miami and Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, but I got to play it in what I think was the best stage “The Carl Cox and Friends Arena.” Some of my favorite cities to play have been Toronto and Montreal, Canada.

What do you think of the evolution of electronic dance movement over the years?

I think it’s great. I see a lot more festivals in the United States adding techno stages, and not so much focus on the EDM stages giving the kids opportunity to explore spectrum of dance music.

What advice would you give to aspiring producers? Do you currently mentor younger artists (on or off your record label)?

The only advice that matters is to be humble and original. We certainly don’t need more egos in this business. I started my record label, Younan Music to help open doors for younger talented artists. The label has been running for over 10 years now with no sign of stopping, and we
are still signing new talented producers. I always give them advice, particularly about the type of deals they should be looking out for, so they don’t end up in the same holes I fell in when I started.

You’ve been collaborating quite a bit with Carl Cox lately, how did you two first meet? What is your favorite part of working with him?

I’ve known Carl for many years. We’ve always crossed paths, but we really got to know each other a little over a year ago, when I opened up for him and Nic Fanciulli at a club in Washington D.C called Echo Stage. He was very impressed with my set and asked me to come on board and open up for him at his Las Vegas Residency at Light Nightclub last year and that’s when it all started.

I love working with Carl. You don’t really get to know a person and until you wittiness their true passion, and Carl’s passion for music is unmatched by anyone else I know. He loves his fans, the music and the vibe. Everything about his performance has always sent positive energy throughout the venue. I love being around that type of energy. Just like any human being, I feed off of that, which makes my performance even that much more fun 🙂

What song (by yourself or any other artist) would you play to:

Relax? Anything by King Tubby.

Work out? I like to listen to my own live set to critique them for upcoming live shows.

Have a pool party? Barry White or anything  with old soul and disco.

Get ready for a big performance? The tracks that I’ve downloaded or I’ve edited to play for that evening.

How do you like to spend your time when you have time off?

In the summer time, I hit the lakes for some Standup Paddleboarding or mountain biking. In the winter I hit the slopes for some snowboarding.

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