Farah Nanji 0:06
Hey and welcome to this special podcast takeover from Amsterdam Dance Event 2022, where I was really lucky to be on the ground capturing insights with several industry leaders from label owners, artists, investors, founders, promoters, journalists, and many many more.
ADE is the largest dance music gathering in the world for professionals and fans alike and it takes place over five days with 600 speakers, 2500 artists 1000 events, and 450,000 visitors from around the globe. And after 3 really hard years for our industry, it was honestly incredible to connect again with stakeholders in the music ecosystem and discuss urgent topics such as sustainability for live events, mental health for artists and professionals social change, and strategies for the future of electronic music. The dates have been announced for ADE 2023 and I already can't wait for next year.
So let's dive into today's conversation with Nhii, an amazing artist who's had projects with some fantastic labels such as Kindisch, Do Not Sit Under The Furniture, Stil Vor Talent, and many many more with over 2 million streams on Spotify alone. Today he's a co-founder of the Sounds of Khemit label with his partner Wael Mahmoud and Row Weber. Wael is in the process of publishing a book about the journey around this label. And there's a fantastic quote he opens with it that says “true teachings is not an accumulation of knowledge. It is an awakening of consciousness, which goes through successive stages.” Sounds Of Khemit is a label that really represents this journey with a community through the power of sound, exploring how certain frequencies can unlock hidden codes in our DNA towards higher states of consciousness, unlocking and strengthening our life's mission on earth, and ultimately bringing us back to alignment with universal energy fields. There's an amazing excerpt from the book that I'd like to read, which I hope will give some deeper context to this interview.
“COVID is a wake-up call, an alert that tells us that our ways of living have grown drowsy and torpid. The pandemic has turned our cities into graveyards, media spreads fear and panic to the masses instead of giving us hope and light, making us vibrate on this low vibrational frequency of fear. It is the exact opposite of the highest vibration of unconditional love that builds everything around us. We became off-tune, no longer in harmony with a beautiful melody, the creator of the universe, and what is beyond has given to us. We walk around like living zombies. Our eyes are empty, our hearts feel heavy, and we cannot stand the silence in our apartments any longer. Yet, we are addicted to the noise of the streets and the screaming of the crowds. We do everything to avoid confronting ourselves at our core, we run away from the demons that raised their voices inside and we try to fight them with artificial medicine. We drink lots of alcohol, we take lots of drugs, and we party until we go unconscious. When we turn on the music, we do it to silence our inner voices and screams. Everything in life is sound. We are surrounded by waves of energy. Everything vibrates and rotates at the same time. But it is up to us how we use sounds in our lives, and what kind of energy we invite into our lives. COVID is like Noah's Flood, it destroyed a lot, but it has not destroyed all of our bad habits. If we do not watch out if we do not act if we do not find ways in our hearts to come back to our true selves to stop abusing ourselves and our planet earth. From our destructive behaviors, nothing will be fixed and everything will go back to normal. A new normal there will be more of hell if we do not learn and correct our path. The decision to start sounds of Kemet was derived from the Kemetic calendar of the cycles of the universe. It is based on the belief that life constantly moves in a circular manner, passing through five distinct stages, five cycles in a day from dawn to dusk, five cycles in life from birth to death, and five cycles of the universe consisting of the Dawn time, the morning sun, the afternoon sun, the golden hour up to sunset time and evening time.”
There are some really interesting thoughts in this book. And if you want to read more, then head over to osiris.io to preorder the book. So let's jump into the interview. And I just want to apologize ahead of time for any background noise as we recorded this interview at the label's party during ADE so there was a little bit of ambiance around us.
Farah Nanji 4:15
Nhii, thanks for joining us. How has your experience been of ADE so far?
I have to say it was my first ADE and it's phenomenal. I've met so many interesting people in the last few days from the industry also just music lovers, you know. So it's I have to say it's a great place to connect with like-minded people.
Farah Nanji 4:50
Tell us a little bit about your artist's name because actually something we always like to do on the show is to find out the meaning of someone's name actually I looked up what Nhii stands for, and I would love for you to tell our listeners what it stands for.
Yeah, so Nhii is a short version of no human is illegal. I did my first release in 2019. And this was a time, especially in Germany, when there was a lot of hate toward immigrants. So that's basically the inspiration where it comes from.
Farah Nanji 5:37
It's great that you're using your medium to promote change and positivity in the world. And so what have been some of your goals going into ADE this year?
So we are having our label’s meet and greet here today. So the goal was to provide our fans with our artists who have signed on our label the last year since we are exactly one year old now. We wanted to provide a space where they can meet, where they can talk, and where we can invite other partners from the industry. So actually, we had quite a lot of I would say, music influencers here like labels and distributors.
Farah Nanji 6:26
Great. Yeah, it's definitely one of those sorts of places where you can just be extremely productive and have many meetings. And you know, we're going into New Year soon. So hopefully set some goals for the coming year. I don't know if you had a chance to attend any of the panels, if you have are there any key takeaways that you have observed?
Yeah, I’ve been to two or three panels, I think the most interesting part was the panel from Beatport about label growth. Because they are setting up the whole system, more toward usability and publishing which is quite an interesting development. Also, what I didn’t anticipate was just how many insights there are on those panels. They really tell you the secrets of the industry. So that was quite interesting to see.
Farah Nanji 7:42
Yeah, I feel like there is no filter here for a lot of people in the industry who do want to dispel those myths. And it's a great opportunity to ask those questions. It's an intimate audience. Tell us a little bit about the label’s vision because it's, it's really interesting. I follow you as an artist as well and as play some of your tracks. It's really great to see when DJs start their own labels. So what was the vision the meaning behind Sounds of Khemit.
Yeah, so Khemit is the ancient word for Egypt and the whole philosophy behind the labels as I'm not the only founder of it. I found it together with my friend Wael, we met in New York and he is Egyptian. The whole philosophy is to think about the lost knowledge of ancient Egypt. There's a lot of mystery around it we don't know what they really knew about the world and how it works, they might have had knowledge about vibrations and frequencies we lost. For example, you use certain frequencies in medicine nowadays to heal broken bones. You know the feeling when you stand in an amazing rave and all the vibrations go through your body and it gives you something special, you also know the feeling when the music is off and you don't feel it and it feels awkward. So we are into this topic a lot. We want to promote the right vibrations and frequencies in more in a more scientific way by signing artists, which have the same vision and we work together beautifully.
Farah Nanji 9:52
How would you go about promoting the right frequencies?
Well with our label, first of all, we put out music that we think is very beneficial. We also plan to have events all over the world in certain energy centers. Wael also just wrote a book on the whole topic which will be released soon and a lot of stuff is going to be written in there.
And the chapter about the philosophy of the label is already available on the homepage to read.
Farah Nanji 11:05
I'm sure nature plays an important role in that as well.
Yeah, 100%. Because those frequencies I like to incorporate in my music you can find in nature, too. It features specific frequencies and your body responds to those frequencies in a certain way. For example, 5 to 31 hertz are very good if you want to be in a meditative state, etc.
Farah Nanji 11:49
Yeah, no, definitely. It would be very interesting if a lot of people could access bio-resonance and understand better the relationship between frequencies in the body and the mind. Music is an important way of sharing that medium.
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Farah Nanji 12.40
It is an exciting time for the music industry with disruptive technology. As a label owner, do you have plans to enter into the transition of the metaverse?
We actually do have very big plans about that but we are also very aware of the fact that this whole industry is backed by a system that is not very environmentally friendly. Wael has a very, very strong background in cryptocurrencies and we are figuring slowly figuring ways out to make a platform where we can be Sounds of Khemit in a sustainable and responsible way.
Farah Nanji 13:53
Yes, there are a lot of sustainability concerns around blockchain technologies, minting, etc. It’s clear being here today that you care about the environment. Your party has only plant-based foods, and speaks a lot about sustainable initiatives. You can really feel the touch points of taking that extra step to promote more conscious choice-making. How can other labels and artists encourage environmentally savvy behavior?
Yeah, I think it's mostly being a role model. The way you live, the way you show compassion, I think that's something which is a lot of times not talked about. If you can show compassion towards animals you certainly have compassion towards fellow human beings, right? So I think it's, it's very important to be able role models and show what is possible. I mean, I'm touring and I'm flying a lot, but I'm vegan for eight years. It’s not always easy, I starve at some airports only eating bananas, but it’s something I embrace and want to be a part of the change.
Farah Nanji 15:25
It takes the extra. You know you're going to travel. So maybe you have to take a protein shake or something that's easy on the go and make the choice not to have something because it's just not available. And it comes down to conscious choice-making, but also, conscious capital as well is quite important. What do you think, are some of the misconceptions now in the work that you do?
That's a very big question. Misconceptions about the work I do. I think a lot of people get right, what I do, you know, the, at least the superficial part of it, you know, like, everybody understands traveling takes time, it takes a toll on you, you're exhausted afterward. I hear a lot of fellow artists struggle with, the more the deeper side behind it, like the mental health part of this conversation. You know, there are drugs involved in nightclubs, alcohol. And as a DJ, it's always easy to get those things, and I think you have to set boundaries for yourself, and respect nightlife culture, at the same time, you want to have fun and enjoy yourselves, because then the audience is going to enjoy. It all plays a part. And I think, balancing this in a healthy way is an interesting process. And I think that's something sometimes something people don't think about.
Farah Nanji 17:45
Especially with the culture of now. Fans crave the personality behind the music. it's not enough to just hear the song. They want to know how you spend your day, I need to see you on TikTok, Instagram, and other mediums. The lifestyle of a DJ or an artist is portrayed in a certain way. There have been many artists who burned out who've, unfortunately, succumbed to those vices but it’s also not an easy industry to have energy for at the same time. So you can't blame them. But it is about having boundaries and being almost non-negotiable with those boundaries. Because the mindset of success in order to succeed in this industry, it requires a lot of discipline and a lot of good habits, especially healthy habits. Otherwise, it's too easy. Because in a way people's job around us is to say, yes. So it is easy to take advantage of that.
I appreciate you understand the whole topic here.
Farah Nanji 18:48
Absolutely. I’ve been a DJ for 13 years, and unfortunately, I have lost friends to drugs, when you see it firsthand, you cannot encourage this behavior. I've been told so many times, oh, you need to have drugs to understand this music. I'm like, No, I really don't. And people don't understand how I can play the way I do without taking drugs. And I don't have any judgment to anyone who does anything. It's their life, they choose to live the way they live. But in what other industry do you go to work and it's acceptable to take drugs like in the office? You would be fired immediately for that. And secondly, also the type of medium and the way that human trafficking works to get drugs into the hands of consumers is against my moral principles.
I 100% agree and also the way drugs are manufactured now and altered during the lifetime of the shipping process. It's just becoming really dangerous to take drugs. Anything chemical is just not worth the risk these days. For example, I went to Burning Man this year and a friend of mine had fentanyl tests with him. And it was very scary to see how much stuff is mixed with fentanyl.
Farah Nanji 20:29
It’s risk vs reward. We live in this society now where it's about instant gratification. People are not willing to do the hard work, they want the answers immediately for example around the purpose of their existence. Or how they can evolve the idea of their business in a much bigger way. And rather than doing the hard work, going deep into their mental state and processes, and doing all the things that they need to do, they just pop a pill to get the answers. And I'm not judging anyone. But sometimes it is also this escapism and easy routes to get the answers and avoid doing the work.
The last thing I wanted to ask you is, in your opinion, what is the most critical change that needs to happen in the music industry one year from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now?
For three the same answer. The royalty system for underground artists has to be better. It's just ridiculous that companies are not able to work together with nightclubs and not able to collect data from them and pay the artists accordingly. This is a complete disaster since the beginning of the game. And it's just so sad.
Farah Nanji 22:59
Fans of music do not understand the deep implications of not paying fair value for music. And it's very hard to change this mindset away from it's for free, you know? And that's where I think there's a new, creator economy with the metaverse unlocking hopefully value in a different way. But of course, the mess of the royalty system is a humongous mess. It's like imagining a whole country of cables all mashed together, and you have to untangle each cable. Nhii, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for reaching out to us and it's a pleasure to meet you too.
Farah Nanji 24:10
Have a good rest of ADE.
Hope you've enjoyed this episode as much as we enjoyed having these conversations. If you want to grab a copy of today's show notes, then head over to www.mission-makers.com/ade where you will also find notes from all of our previous episodes. And if you're interested in talking to me about future opportunities at ADE, producing podcasts or coming down to some of my music and motorsports events, you can reach out to me at Mission Makers, or at dj.n1nja on Instagram and TikTok. Thank you as ever for listening. Until next time, keep it laser focused.