By Glenn Alderson
VANCOUVER — Handsome Tiger is the recently adopted moniker for Vancouver DJ/producer Hussein Elnamer. It also happens to be the Arabic translation of his name, which only seems fitting since Elnamer has recently pounced into a new musical territory, switching up genres and leaving his indie rock past behind for electronic music. No stranger to the Vancouver music community, Elnamer fronted the indie band A Name Unheard for several years. An open and vocal appreciator of all music, his DJ sets float around bassy dance floor feels which were most recently heard during a guest appearance last month at the Alexander’s Saturday night residency Life Musik, hosted by Nathan Samson (Wmnstudies) and DJ Momantix. When he’s not mixing tunes and making beats, Elnamer also works as the evening manager at Grandview Lanes on Commercial Drive, inflicting a healthy dose of his party-starting vibes into the atmosphere of the busy bowling alley. BeatRoute caught up with Vancouver’s real life Kingpin to find out how he rolls… and bowls.
BeatRoute: What do you do at Grandview Lanes?
Hussein Elnamer: As one of the evening managers, my roles include customer service, lane and machine maintenance, and I have been told that I make a mean pizza (higher than your average bowling alley food).
BR: Do they ever get you to shine the balls?
HE: We have the cleanest balls in town.
BR: What’s your favourite part about working at a bowling alley?
HE: The best part is being able to work on the Drive and engage with people in my community, as well as being part of such a historical East Van hub and family business. Plus I get to control the tunes while I’m at the lanes.
BR: Have you ever seen the movie Kingpin? Does Vancouver have any Roy Munsons?
HE: Definitely it’s a classic, and I would be lying if I didn’t say there weren’t a handful of Roy Munsons in the city.
BR: Who do you identify more with — Bill Murray as Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken or Skrillex?
HE: I hate to say this but I identify most with Skrillex. I’m not a fan of his music, but I grew up playing punk music and did the Warped Tour circuit so I can relate to the transition from Sonny Moore (band kid) to Skrillex (Ableton producer).
BR: What’s the best score you’ve ever bowled?
HE: I couldn’t tell you the exact number to be honest, but somewhere in the two-hundreds.
BR: Do you get to listen to your own music at work?
HE: Yes, but I always try to cater to the vibes of the shift. That being said, the soundtrack to a night can be anywhere on the musical spectrum from classic rock (for the league bowlers) to a bass driven Ekali mix on a busy weekend night.
BR: What’s the best kind of music to bowl to?
HE: I would say anything from chill hip-hop to dubby reggae vibes. On the other hand my league bowlers and myself love to rock out to “Jungle Love” by Steve Miller Band.
BR: What are some of the downfalls of working at a bowling alley?
HE: Having to work the night shift, because I sometimes miss a lot of great shows and events.
BR: As a DJ, what are some of your favourite things about the Vancouver music scene right now?
HE: Right now, I am completely enthralled with Vancouver’s thriving underground scene. Many artists in the Bass Coast and electronic music community have been a huge influence and inspiration to my focus as an electronic producer and music selector.
BR: You used to play in an indie band. What made you transition over to the dark side?
HE: It was a fluid transition. I’ve always been driven by music with a groove. After A Name Unheard stopped playing, I also grew bored of the solo folky things I used to do. As my interest in electronic music grew, I felt I needed something new to feel re-inspired. I also got into using my first DAW Ableton last January, which has been such a fun new form of musical expression as well as a very intimidating challenge at times. I like a challenge I feel it’s an integral part of helping you grow as an artist.
BR: How would you describe the kind of music you spin as Hussein Handsome Tiger?
HE: I was lucky enough to be raised listening to a plethora of different music genres. This has definitely kept my musical tastes very open. In my sets I’m open to floating around the many flavours of dance music I’m into. They might include anything from a few of my originals to maybe a bit of deep melodic house, bass, trap, dub, or a hint of grime or dancehall. I’d like to be as versatile as I can. I’ve introduced live psychedelic guitar into a few sets and will continue to add more live elements as I become a better DJ.
BR: Where would you like to see your DJ career in five years?
HE: Opening for Skrillex and Diplo. (laughs). But in all seriousness I would love to be fully enriched locally, spending my summer’s playing an array of festivals on the West Coast.
BR: Where do you see your bowling career in five years?
HE: Retired… with the highest average. Drinking White Russians with the Dude!
Hussein Handsome Tiger performs regularly around the city so keep an eye out. You can also check out his most recent mixes on his SoundCloud page.BC, bowling, British Columbia, Grandview Lanes, Hussein Elnamer, Hussein Handsome Tiger