House music had a resurgence in the UK over the last decade, and Richy Ahmed was one of its key figures. After starting out as a promoter in Newcastle he broke through with a style of house characterised by basslines and pop melodies, two qualities that were first pioneered by artists like Jamie Jones.
Ahmed cut his teeth alongside Jones on East London’s party circuit, and after landing regular gigs in Ibiza for Hot Creations he became a frontrunner for a sound that quickly amassed wide appeal. He now also runs Four Thirty Two, an imprint which he’s used to release music from himself and peers. Before Ahmed returns to the club with Four Thirty Two next weekend, we caught up with him to discuss Ibiza, running a label, and why he’s so excited about coming to Room One for his return.
In 2009 you played only a handful of gigs, and in the next year got booked in Spain and across the UK. Was there a pivotal moment where you first broke through?
I think it was my track Suck It – it came out around the time of the first Hot Creations party during Sonar at the W Hotel. I was just promoting at the time but one of the other DJs on the bill had a technical fault so I ended up with a really good set time. I ended up smashing it, the crowd really enjoyed it. Jamie [Jones] always knew I was a pretty good DJ, so that’s why he asked me to be there.
Were you still living in Newcastle at the time?
I was still in Newcastle – it was just prior to me moving to London.
You were a big part of London’s Kubicle party. Was this where your relationship with Hot Creations started?
It started to kick off for me in 2010, but I’d known Jamie and Hot Creations seven or eight years before that. I met the whole Kubicle scene when I moved to London. To be honest, it was my girlfriend (now fiancé) that got me my first gig there. She was best friends with them, and she’d suggested they put me on. At first they didn’t want to – they had the idea that I’d play too hard because I was from up North! But she kicked up a fuss, I got a set and did quite well, so started playing every other week or so.
You’ve played in Ibiza over twenty times this summer, and you were over there quite frequently early on in your career. What first attracted you to playing here?
It’s one of the best places in the world, especially in the summer. I love going there and I love partying there. The clubs were there, all the best DJs were there, and it was like a second home to me. When I started going it was like a home from home – playing there was always an absolute pleasure. I was lucky with the way my gigs went there. My first proper Ibiza gig was at DC-10 for Paradise, so I landed on my feet.
What do you think of the idea that the island is changing?
I think change is inevitable. Some people don’t like it, some people do. It doesn’t matter if you like it or if you don’t, it’s going to happen. You either adapt or you die. I still think there are amazing things happening on the island. There are just a lot of things that weren’t there before. Something does need to be done with a lot of the pricing. This summer seemed to be quieter in some places – people were complaining because a lot of parties were less busy.
There are so many options all across Europe that it becomes quite competitive. You can’t just rely on the table crowd paying for bottle service and whatnot – all that is pointless if the dance floor’s empty. It was still a really good summer – there are lots of really cool parties if you know what to look for. You’re never going to stop the change – you just have to adapt to it.
Has your experience of doing A&R with Hot Creations helped you with Four Thirty Two so far?
It’s helped me a lot. Knowing how to deal with different artists, having a massive network of artists sending you tunes on a regular basis because they want you to play it in your sets, a lot of stuff I never would have thought of. There were contacts I didn’t really use for Hot Creations because I didn’t believe they were the right sound, but ended up being perfect for my gig, so it’s helped me a lot.
Where did you come into contact with [recent signings] Luca Cazal and Senzala?
Luca Cazal has been a very close friend of mine for the last eight or nine years. I met him through a friend called Kelly Love, who he was going out with at the time. They started doing disco and house and we became really good friends. I met Senzala from just being out in clubs and receiving his demos. Both boys are really talented.
What involvement does Jansons have in the label?
Jansons is one of the artists that I’m really going to try and push this year. He deserves it and he’s very talented. We’ve done a remix as a duo called LoveHertz, and we’ll be looking to remix more Four Thirty Two tracks together in the future.
Can you talk more about the artists you’ll be appearing with at the club?
Mathew Jonson has been one of my main inspirations for a very long time, especially from the 2004-2006 period. It was completely different to anything else – quality, beautiful music. I can still remember so many good times from those years with his music as the soundtrack. Archie Hamilton and Rossko are very good friends, and I believe they’re really good DJs. They bring a different style and vibe to me but I think that works really well. They’re both London boys too. I’m not a London boy, but I’ve been here long enough that I feel like one. The last party at the club was really good and I don’t think there was anything that I wanted to change about the night. Jansons has been added to the mix this time – he’s a sick DJ who will be starting the night.
You’re taking over room hosting with us. Are you hoping to expand the label into parties more often in the future?
Absolutely. A dream of mine is to take over the whole club, eventually. Bigger and better parties; but without getting too big. I still want to keep a certain quality to it. I want to keep it so the fans are going to have a good time.