Unlike other DJs, which use various scene names related to their real name, AKIRA opted to use his own instead. And it works like magic! His ID tho identifies him as Akira Salehin. Antwerp-based DJ and producer, AKIRA has been playing for 15 years now and has established himself as a familiar face in the nightlife scene.
Starting out as every young DJ, in his bedroom, playing vinyl records for nights on end, he eventually got discovered in a local record shop, “USA Import” in Antwerp, where he met the right minded people who gave him the chance to express himself…and that’s exactly what he did. Playing a blend of old and new, creating outgoing DJ sets that stand out in terms of selection and vibe.
No genre or style is there to categorise him and that’s just what he wants for the people to be surprised when they hear him play. At the age of 17 he won the Pioneer Pro Dj Contest in Belgium, later earning him a residency at Café d’Anvers and numerous events and festivals in Belgium. He has travelled abroad in the past few years where he will surely be seen and heard again, mostly booked in London and Amsterdam but he wants to see the world with his music.
Playing a blend of old and new, creating outgoing DJ sets that stand out in terms of selection and vibe. No genre or style is there to categorise him and that’s just what he wants for the people to be surprised when they hear him play. At the age of 17 he won the Pioneer Pro Dj Contest in Belgium, later earning him a residency at Café d’Anvers and numerous events and festivals in Belgium. He has travelled abroad in the past few years where he will surely be seen and heard again, mostly booked in London and Amsterdam but he wants to see the world with his music.
He is also coming in Bucharest to play for us, this January!
What is your first music memory?
AKIRA: Well, I was raised with classical music at home. My mother played the piano and sang in a choir when she was younger, so it was always opera and classical pieces on the stereo at home.
My name actually comes from a piano player that participated in an annual classical music competition. It was the moment I was born, so thanks, mom! But what I’ll never forget is that I had this little glass bear with lights inside and music in my room and it only played one song: Morgenstimmung of the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. Put me to sleep back then instantly but still a beautiful piece of music.
Here at DHB we had different paths which we took in order to finally reach and settle to electronic music. Which was the path in your case? Did you have some rebellious phase?
AKIRA: I have sailed a few seas and oceans of electronic music, starting out with house – Detroit techno – progressive stuff – tech house…but after 15 years of playing it’s only normal to develop your own taste, style and most importantly yourself. Passion is what drives me here still and I’m happy where I am now. I have some great DJ/producer friends that have influenced me for the better, in all the right ways. And I believe all of us get into that place eventually, you just have to believe in yourself and learn to have patience.
What prompted you to become a DJ?
AKIRA: My brother has all the credit there, he is 10 years older, but he moved out when he was about 7-8 years old. He visited us often but at his age back then, he went out almost every weekend and in those days, at most clubs, you could buy a cassette with the recording of that night. So every now and then he would borrow or give me a tape he had heard too much and that’s where it all began.
So I was 8 years old listening to house music on the way to school on my walkman, and the way those deejays mixed and the music…the feelings and emotions. I was hooked immediately and realised this was going to be a big part of my life.
How would you characterise your DJ style in one sentence?
AKIRA: Music from the heart, resonating deep feelings and emotions that reflect my journey in life.
What does a DJ need to do nowadays in order to be “the complete package” in this industry? Does it matter most to be highly social or just talented?
AKIRA: That’s a double question. First and most important of all, you have to be talented, period. As we all know this doesn’t count for everyone sadly, but true. When I started out, deejaying was on the verge of the digital era, myspace and forums were the way to go back then. Nowadays we are surrounded by digitalism all the time and almost everywhere we go. Second of all, if you want your career to develop you have to get yourself out there and all platforms are only a touch away. So to keep it short, a little bit of both and let your passion drive you throughout…that’s what I try to do.
Tell us a little bit about your star project, VOID. Some fantastic job you guys are doing there! How did it all begin?
AKIRA: Thanks, I’m proud so far, but always eager and determined to get better and improve.
VOID’s story began about 2 years ago when I had been organising smaller concepts but wanted to develop a new idea that would be more serious, bringing international artists to an intimate venue and deliver quality music to the people. I got the opportunity to organise events in a new venue called Club Vaag in Antwerp, the name VOID just came because there is always a void to fill in life,
I got the opportunity to organise events in a new venue called Club Vaag in Antwerp, the name VOID just came because there is always a void to fill in life, so music has the ability to do that. I’m also a big fan of live acts and so far we’ve only had that on the roster (except the very first edition with Just Her (UK), after that I was very happy with the line-ups that saw Rodriguez Jr. – Gabriel Ananda – Marek Hemmann, which were all live acts. But I honestly am very excited for the future and the next event, with a long time hero Stimming and dear friend Lost Desert.
Now were stepping a bit into ‘what if’ territory. What would be the perfect club you’d like to play and what lineup would you choose for that night?
AKIRA: That’s a tricky one, off the top of my head I choose Cova Santa on Ibiza. It is an outdoor club residing on a hillside, at night it is just magical there. I just love to dance and play in the sun and warm surroundings, the daytime party vibe is totally different. And then, when the sun goes down, the vibe and atmosphere totally change. Love that feeling!
On the line up would be some favourites: YokoO – Lee Burridge & Matthew Dekay – Lost Desert
Which sport do you think resembles most the electronic music industry and why?
AKIRA: I’d guess if had to choose one, ping-pong! It’s a very high pace game where precision and persistence are needed to stay on top. It also reminds me of the industry in general, going back and forth hitting the ball at the right speed, angle and aiming for that specific place on the other side of the table. Never thought I’d come up with this kind of an answer but very close to reality.
What impressed you most about Bucharest?
AKIRA: There is a real good scene for underground music going on there. I never expected it to be like this, but you can tell the scene is growing stronger. Quality is key here, so I was pleasantly surprised by this lovely city and can’t wait to be back!
So see you soon and thank you for inviting me to play for you!
We’re counting days, man! Thank you for these kind words!