Electronica meets psych-rock on 'Overk' - the Debut Release from Cairo's Hossam Hilal by Louis Sterling-Snell

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After several months of exchanges between Hossam and IDS, we are proud to present ´Overk´, a collection of textural works from the experimentalist that hints at styles of world music, packaged with the influences of psychedelic rock and electronica.

The journey begins with ‘Hurry up’, a collage of luscious tonal bodies and melodic electric guitar riffs, topped with a beauteous synthesis of sampled drums. As Hossam takes us into the more organic, off-kilter African percussion on tracks such as ‘Habitat’ and ‘Ma Fi Makan’, the artist begins to unveil his Egyptian roots with a more traditional, celebratory atmosphere of a city with a rich cultural history. The E.P. closes with ‘Crippled Down’, a delicately dissonant blend of metallic textures and concrete basslines.

Download Hossam Hilal - Overk here

Interview (Conduced by Jamie Moore for IDS)


Who/what were your main influences when writing Overk?

I had lots of influences, some African artists, like “Tinariwen”, “Nabil Othmani”, “Bombino”, some electronic artists, like “ Kerala dust”, “Nicola cruz”.

Also I think it’s a mixture of influences, I really like psychedelic music, and indie, and jazz, and lots of other genres also; I think an artist collects a lot of music then interprets it in his own way in his music.

Your music combines a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds. Is there something that draws you to this approach, rather than working exclusively with one form?

I come from a totally acoustic background, I started playing piano when I was really young, then later guitar, later at university I learned Drums, but I didn’t like electronic music back then at all. Then I started getting more into  progressive music, with which I started adding electronic elements. Then through friends I got to listen to more electronic music. Sometimes I work exclusively with one form, like in the track “Ma Fi Makan”, it is completely acoustic, but mixing between them is what makes the song full in my opinion; I am not really convinced that electronic music was made to imitate acoustic sounds, it was actually made to create new sounds, sometimes inspired by acoustic instruments definitely, but I really think they complement each other, adding different textures and timbres.

How do you find the music scene in Cairo? Has it influenced your music in any way?

The music scene in Cairo is definitely getting better although it is fairly a small scene compared to the size of Cairo. There are lots of challenges though, especially the lack of venues; which also gives some limitations in terms of getting a new crowd as an artist. Also as organizers, they would have to get the musicians and the music genres that people liked the most; which definitely shaped my music, I mean when someone listens to a certain genre of music for a long time, it will inevitably affect his music, whether he likes it or not.

Do you have a favourite album or artist right now?

I can’t say I have one favorite album or artist, when I listen to music, it always depends on my mood, or what time of day it is. Just from the top of my head, I love the album “Awalin” by Steve Shehan; there is also this ambient jazz album called “the heights of the reeds” by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang; I really love the music in it.

What was your favourite record when you were young?

I’ve always had a problem in choosing one favourite record, but there are two records that I listened to a lot when I was young. Steven Wilson’s album “The raven that refused to sing”, and Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”.

Are there any specific people, musicians or otherwise, that you find especially inspiring?

Well, there are some musicians that I really love in terms of their approach to their music, where they come from and what they achieved, like Richard Bona for example, and like Nicolas Jaar, whose music has taken a really experimental turn now!! There are comedians also that I am really into, like David Hoyle, and David Mitchell. There are also movies that definitely inspired how I look at art in general!!

Is there a direction that you can see your music taking which you haven’t yet explored?

I make a totally different type of music also under the name “Hil”, it’s more psychedelic and ambient. The direction that I would like to explore is more about creating my own sound, exploring more with different textures, going more psychedelic I think.

I’m also really into weird instruments; and I always like to play new instruments, currently I just started playing Flute, still trying though!!

Follow Hossam :



Pre-order IDS001, the official ID Spectral launch compilation by Louis Sterling-Snell

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IDS001 - the official ID Spectral launch compilation, will be available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and all major retailers on 2nd August 2018.

Pre-order exclusively on Bandcamp ➥

Featuring : Hironori Nagatsuma | Yaporigami | Anji Cheung redhookgrainterminal | Akira & Mendaya | AUXX | Distant Animals | Ability II | Martia (Luke Vosper) | Mote (Jamie Moore) | | V∆l∆nc∑ Ðr∆kës | PJ Davy | Loraine James.

Creative direction by Jedd Winterburn




Distant Animals to Feature on IDS Launch Compilation by Louis Sterling-Snell


#IDS Artist | 007 :

We are incredibly proud to announce that Distant Animals will be featuring on the ID Spectral launch compilation.

"A true researcher of sound, Daniel Alexander-Hignell has recorded, written, performed and researched numerous socially-oriented sound works across Europe, often choosing to work with a diverse range of collaborators, including visual artists, choreographers, theologians, lawyers, and political activists.'" With his latest release "Lines" on Hallow Ground, and a more recent feature on the French Revue & Corrigée - he has blurred the lines between an experimental practise, pulling new and unique takes of jazz and modern classical, whilst drawing contemporary concepts of the soundscape.

Listen to Distant Animals :

Distant Animals Live at Brighton Modular : 

What is IDM? Meet Valance Drakes : London's Glitch Pioneer by Louis Sterling-Snell

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“Mate, where do you go these days to listen to IDM these days? Is it still a thing?.” Asked a drunken friend of mine. We were outside of a nightclub in the small town of Bath, playing the most generic drum and bass records on the dance floor - through a system that sounded like the speakers of an old Sony Ericsson mobile. It was shit. I came outside to rest my ears, and escape the catastrophe of Bristolians that flocked here to listen to - what they thought - was a relatively underground, rebellious and industrial style of music.

IDM, an abbreviation of “Intelligent Dance Music”, “It Doesn’t Matter”, or... “Isosceles Dodecahedron Maths” (as sarcastically labelled by a friend of mine), is a genre of music most commonly demonstrated through the works of Aphex Twin and the array of artists signed to Warp Records. Warp were originally based in Sheffield, and it’s no surprise that Yorkshire’s industrial environment, bitter cold air and endless cups of tea then lead founders Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell to set up the most morally-obscure, yet incredibly influential electronic music label. Autechre? Flying Lotus? Squarepusher? List can go on. But these guys are indeed pioneers of today's forward thinking electronic dance music.  

“Basically, all of the artists on Warp need therapy”. - Steve Beckett

After Warp released their first “Artificial Intelligence” compilation in 1992, they proceeded on with the development from Techno oriented music, to releases that were more obscure and industrial, sonically to speak. The artistic collaboration Autechre, are a duo on warp that practiced this particular sound, releasing records that aesthetically fit perfectly to their name. Below, is a screenshot of an Autechre track with their software - digital performer. It’s yet another one of their complex compositions, and would’ve quite honestly given Beethoven a seizure.


Remember, this is music that was practiced heavily throughout the 90’s to the early noughties, so software and technology weren’t as accessible enough for them to produce everything simply in their bedroom, with something as basic as a laptop. Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, is an artist that experiments heavily with arrangement, using an 8 track and tape recorder to layer his bass guitar to drum machine sequences, early computer programs and synth patches. He’s been a keen user of PD and the early version of NI Reaktor, primitive programming environments of which enable him to practise DSP (Digital signal processing) in his work.

I interviewed Valance drakes, a UK based producer of Detroit underground - a record label and artistic platform that ties Warps influential glitch aesthetics to their catalogue of music and sound design. As reserved and quiet as the producer comes across, Valance has been previously been labelled as “London's glitch pioneer”, and is a well respected producer within the IDM scene, from England to as far as Japan.

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[Interview : Valance Drakes]

Louis : Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions man.

Valance : Not a problem.

Louis : So you’ve had a very strong discography spanning over many years. How long have you been producing music for? What essentially got you into it?

Valance : ‘97, that was a savage year for me, a friend of mine played Delarosa & Asora (Prefuse 73) Sleep Method Suite, I never heard this style of Ambient or Hip Hop before and was hooked. His release in ‘99 - “Crush The Sight Seers” blew me away.

Louis : There seems to be a big conflict between producers that use hardware and software these days. What’s in your setup? And how do you go about producing your records?   

Valance : It doesn’t matter what you use it’s how you use it, my setup has always been a laptop and FL Studio, and even though it has its limits I gave meaning within my limitations. Creativity is sometimes a difficult situation by challenging yourself. Put some sounds together and wait for the outcome - if you vibe to it then continue. If not, save, because you never know it might come handy for later on. The only conflict that I know is creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.

Louis : I hear a great Hip Hop and Breakbeat influence in some of your music. Have you always been keen for IDM and glitch orientated music? What are your roots, musically?

Valance : Hip Hop, but with its references such as Glitch, Ambient, Experimental (etc).

Louis : Are you keen with the abbreviation “IDM”? Steve Beckett, the founder of Warp Records seems to not associate with the term. What’s your take on this?

Valance : Everyone is entitled to their own opinion if the choices are before them. Music is music - downtempo, fast pace or out of this world. If it’s good, then vibe to it.

Louis : Do you have any producers, or labels you aspire to?

Valance : Yu Mitashita, Hiroto Kudo, Ametsub, Geskia, Kiyo, Notuv, Flady, and a bunch of savage producers from Japan.

Louis : I understand you used to release under the alias Muss_ck? What was the motive behind your name change?

Valance : Two people: Giovanni Marks: He wanted me to use my real name for the release of Tales From A Game Boi (RIP David del Monaco for doing the artwork) and Jimmy Penguin for when I released my first ever vinyl record with him. Most people think Valance Drakes is not my real name and that it’s made up, classic people ha.

Louis : Your last project “Struggle Experienced Internally” was amazing. It very seemed to be a concept album, explored with crazy drum sequences, glitches and ambient melodies. What did the record personally mean to you?

Valance : I made a lot of beats filled with anger when my old man passed away from cancer back in 2012 and this album were some of those tracks. During that same year, Geskia from Japan released an album entitled “Muon”, and that album meant a lot to me as it was a healer and eventually became fond on the sound and that’s the path I took. I owe the people of Japan. The likes of Yu Miyashita - that’s my brother right there.

Louis : So following on from your record “Struggle Experienced Internally”, what have you been up to recently?   

Valance : I released a vinyl on my own entitled “Promise is a Comfort to a Fool” for the 10th Annual Community Skratch Games which took place in Galway, Ireland at Easter and sold out which I was surprised about. UK BMX Flatland Rider Jason Forde been using some of my tunes for promos for his event Ground Control, which I wish him all the best.


Louis : I understand that record was released with Detroit Underground? How did you get into contact with them? They seem to be a very respected label.

Valance : Annie Hall via Soundcloud, she forward my stuff to Kero. Those guys helped me a lot putting together the EP (A Fatherless Child) which came out on Vinyl.

Louis : You also mentioned Richard Devine of Warp Records hit you up for a remix a while back? How did that come about?

Valance : The legend himself posted two projects - one that I did with Bedroom Research and the other with Schematic. I got an email by the Detund (Detroit Underground) label boss Kero saying he wanted me to remix for him, and honestly I thought Kero was chatting shit, and now I’m a shadow man of his crew ha ha. 

Louis : I want to ask - where do you think the IDM scene stands in today's electronic music scene? Japan always seemed to quietly be all too familiar with the genre since it started. I’m also hearing the term “IDM 2.0" by the way? What is that exactly?

Valance : I’ve not a clue what IDM 2.0 stands for, you’re asking the wrong guy.

Louis : Finally, labels such as PC Music and Brainfeeder are still exploring IDM through styles of modern pop music and Jazz. Do you think musicians and labels are still exploring the genre as it was in the 90’s?

Valance : Always, and there’s no harm in it as long as they remain true to themselves. Honour their visions and respect their influences by paying homage.

Follow Valance -