By Paul Rodgers
VANCOUVER – Considering Hussein Elnamer, a.k.a. Handsome Tiger only started DJing and producing electronic music three years ago, his progress has been considerable to say the least. Last summer he did two festivals, Shambhala and Bass Coast, and this year he was back at both of them, in addition to a heap of other noteworthy parties.
“This summer’s been crazy,” says Elnamer. “Quite the step up. I’ve almost tripled my bookings so I’m pretty happy about that.” This summer also saw him perform at Diversity and Blessed Coast Festivals, on top of shows in Seattle, a Rifflandia showcase in Victoria and an appearance at Michael Red’s Few Norms party.
Though he is relatively new to the world of electronic music, Elnamer has been singing and playing guitar for 17 years. He used to play in a band called A Name Unheard and credits the time he spent learning to play and performing in a band with helping him pick up producing so fast, in terms of arranging and creating beats.
“The technology has been the hurdle,” he says. “Because I was never someone who was into using recording programs or anything like that, so the last three years have been quite exploratory for me and a lot of fun.”
Elnamer moved to Vancouver from the Northern BC town of Dawson Creek around nine years ago. While he had been interested in bass music for quite some time, he wasn’t well versed in it until some friends from home told him to check out things like Bass Coast, Michael Red, The Librarian and Lighta!
Elnamer quickly started producing and, shortly after, was asked to play his first show. His DJ sets encompass a wide range of influence, predominantly from the UK sound, from dubstep, grime or dancehall, to rap and, particularly, “badass female rap.”
When it comes to his productions, Elnamer says that with his latest release, the Juggling EP, he has finally hit his stride. He says that with his previous work, particularly the track he did with Nigerian pidgin rapper Magugu, he was starting to get there but now he has “hit the nail a little bit more on the head.”
“I feel like I’m finally tapping into that and starting to make sense of what I want Handsome Tiger to sound like. It’s becoming a little bit more cohesive to me.”
The new release has a substantially fuller sound, and certainly encompasses the sonic tapestry of what he set out to achieve — grooves that are deep and dark, while still being hyphy and sexy. This initial success is remarkable, but is by no means accidental and Elnamer says there are two main things every fledgling producer should keep in mind:
“Try to make time every day for your stuff, for whatever you’re working on. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t work on your music every day, just always try to do one cool thing. And then definitely just be the easiest person to work with, every opportunity you get to work with someone or when you meet someone new just try your best to be the best you can be and be a good person and contribute to the scene.”
Catch Handsome Tiger around BC on September 17 at Rifflandia, September 22 in Powell River and September 29 at the Arcade in Kelowna.Rifflandia