Q: I’m Qasim Akhtar. I’m backstage at Warehouse Project, at the Albert Hall… with Riton.
Q: What sort of music genre would you define your music at?
R: I come from classic house — sort of early 80s to like 90s house stuff. That’s why I like bass. Then I’m adding what I have to offer on top of it, like, I find a lot of vocalists. I work with a lot of people from Lagos and Nigeria. It’s like good old-fashioned house with some good melodies.
Q: Are there any other influences on your music?
R: I like any Dance through to Disco. Anything electronic. Even Electronica like Kraftwerk. I work on proper old machines, like 70’s analogue machines. That’s how I make all the sounds.
Q: What sort of equipment do you use on stage?
R: When I’m Djing I just use the CDJ’s. I play all of my own tracks. At home, I have Roland’s like 909, 808. All these old drum machines.
Q: Do you ever use vinyl?
R: No. I used to. Back in the day, I used to work in a record shop so I have a massive record collection, but I go digital now. Records don’t sound as good as CDs anymore. You can’t DJ them out as loud.
Q: Before you started Djing as a full-time job, what did you do?
R: I was always doing music but I wasn’t as well known as I am now. I was on the underground, I had a good living, doing good parties, smaller stuff, but still good. I’d do a couple of gigs a weekend and make music. I did that for twenty years before I had a hit, but I wasn’t trying to have a hit. ‘Rinse And Repeat’ was the first hit. But up until then, I was just making underground stuff, all sorts of styles. I was making DJ music you know?
Q: Nightlife is generally dying around the country, you know the whole Fabric situation, but why is it you think Manchester has still managed to stay so diverse? Warehouse Project wouldn’t really exist in any other city than Manchester…
R: I used to live here — I used to work in a record shop and know that there is a love for music here. A good, deep, proper love for music. You have a very good team that makes these parties happen. They have good taste and basically give the people what they want in a big way and they’ve been doing this for ten years. I actually did a mix CD for the first year of warehouse project for them so I’ve known these guys for years.
Q: Is Manchester one of your favourite places to play?
R: Yeah, in the UK it’s like Glasgow and Manchester and London are the best crowds.
Q: What makes Glasgow and London special?
R: Just the people, the music. You know there’s enough people in the city and enough people who will be into that sound so we can always have a good party.
Q: What draws students to the Warehouse Project?
R: It’s just that time of your life. You’re a student, you’re into music more. The more students there are, the better.
Q: What DJ would you like to back to back with?
R: I’m gonna give a shout out to my old partner DJ Mehdi who passed away a few years ago. He was my favourite partner to ever DJ with. Me and him used to have this crew called Carte Blanche and we were making tunes together. He was the best DJ to work with for sure. He was the best DJ in the world.
Q: As a DJ, what do you think is the most important skill? Dillon Francis said in an interview that it’s reading a crowd. Do you think that’s true?
R: Yeah. It just depends [on] what you want to get out of it. Either you want to say something or you want to entertain. You can sort of do a bit of both and its finding that balance where you’re yourself but not a sellout. You’ve got to satisfy everyone but you’ve also go to be your own person. Do your own thing and also know what you do best.
Q: In terms of your new music. Is there a certain direction you’re going with?
R: I’m keeping to what I do really. I just work on something until I love it. When I feel it in my stomach and my heart that’s when its time to put it out. I trust myself you know?
Q: Who were your inspirations when you were growing up?
R: There’s been so many all the way through the years. I’ve been making music for 25 years so it’s a thousand different people. Todd Terry, Carl Craig, all these old school house guys from the US that’s like when you grow up on something, you’ll always love it the most.
Q: Finally what is your all-time favourite city to play in?
R: Obviously Manchester’s top ten of all time. For me Paris is good — that’s just where I always play. I’ve played hundreds of places there. France is a really big place for me.