Name: DJ Aakmael
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Nationality: American  
Current release: DJ Aakmael's Hardbody Project is out via Slothboogie.

If you enjoyed this interview with DJ Aakmael and would like to find out more about his work, visit him on Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you?  

For me, it comes from being in a relaxed state of mind, not stressed or anything.

What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?  

I pull inspiration from other forms of music. I'm an avid music lover, listen to hip hop, rnb, jazz, sometimes classical overtures, reggae. Whatever I'm in the mood for.  

For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a visualisation of the finished work?  


Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating?

Oftentimes before working on music, I'll have a drink, maybe smoke weed and watch classic kung fu (or a fighting game on the PS). Then I'm in the right mindset!

What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play? What do you start with?

No foods, I do like to dim the light some and change the color to maybe green or blue - with some nag champa or other dope incense.

Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?  

I have an idea of where I may want to go with a particular sound. But I like for it to grow organically.

Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?  

The process leads, I follow and see where it goes!

Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it?

Yes, this can happen anytime. I'll start working on a deep house track, and will end up making a hip hop track instead (and vice versa).

I'm ok with it, because I do both types of tracks.

What do you do with these ideas?  

Keep them on the hard drive until another day / month / year. I have many hundreds of tracks that aren't complete or unreleased.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?

Sometimes it's difficult to know when a track is done. Some tend to over-produce a work, others don't do enough. I've done both.  

But for me there's a sweet spot when to me the track is right where it needs to be. Sometimes you gotta let it be.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on?

Very important. Letting it lie for days and coming back to it can allow you to listen with a fresh ear, perhaps gather new ideas, new directions or that final listen to confirm the piece is complete.

What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?  

I love the mixdown process. Most of the things that I release on other labels require just the mixdown so they can master. Others I may do myself or have someone else master.

After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?  

I cannot relate. When I release new material, I let it do what's gonna do and I'm thinking of the next project.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee?  

Yea, cause I don't drink coffee. (laughs)

What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more mundane tasks?  

With music I can express what I'm feeling at that moment in time. My music is reflective of what's on my mind.