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Interview: Sultan
by Royce Haven: 08-30-2007

From the desert heat of his country of origin to the winter rigours of Canada, Sultan has travelled a road quite out of the ordinary. In the past few years Sultan has established himself as one of the most innovative and respectable djs and producers in the electronic dance scene... Sultan has had releases on various labels including Deep Dish’s Yoshitoshi label and John Digweed's Bedrock Breaks Label, as well as several compilations appearances including  “Global Underground 25: Toronto” mixed by Deep Dish, Tiesto’s   “In Search of Sunrise 4”, Dave Seaman’s “Renaissance Masters”, Deep Dish’s “George Is On” which features “Deep Dish vs Dire Straits – Flashing for Money”(Sultan Club/Radio Mix), hailed as being the worlds first ever legally cleared mash up/remix garnering praise from the electronic dance scene as well as rock legends Dire Straits. And most recently “Global Underground 29: Dubai” mixed By Sharam which features three tracks including Sultan & Ned Shepard’s latest release “Connected” and the upcoming highly anticipated single “Together We Rise” on Shinichi Records.

In September of 2006 Sultan joined world class Dj agency, Bullitt Bookings.  Having toured cities across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa over the past two years, Sultan has made his mark as one of the most exciting and technically sound performers in the DJ scene today. In early 2007, Sultan began working closely with good friend Nadia Ali (Former singer of IIO).  The two, alongside Ned Shepard, spent the month of January co-writing and co-producing songs for Nadia Ali’s forthcoming solo Album to be released later this year. Recently both Sultan and Ned Shepard have joined Nadia on tour with Sultan playing guitars and Ned playing keyboards for her Live Show. Keep an eye out for Sultan’s new Monthly Radio show “Connected Live” on DI.fm and his forthcoming compilation on Yoshitoshi “Yoshitoshi: Montreal” due out September 2007.

Sultan? How did u come up what that name?

Now that’s top-secret classified information.  (Just kidding)
It came about as a result of a culmination of different things. Since I was younger living in Egypt I gained a huge appreciation and fascination with the Ottoman Empire and the Sultans especially with all the sites and ruins in Cairo.  At the time when I first began djing I was in the process of growing my hair and used to wear this huge hemp hat that resembled a Sultan’s turban.  That coupled with my long Go-T struck a chord with my friends and mom and they all somehow began teasing with me the name Sultan. What can I say, it stuck.

Tell us little bit about the your Yoshitoshi album.

The Yoshitoshi Montreal album is a mix of several Yoshitoshi back catalogue tracks as well as upcoming releases on Yoshitoshi, Shinichi and Yo!  The album represents me as an artist and a producer and features several of my originals as well as my own mashups and remixes of Yoshitoshi classics.  Its definitely a club mix and has a blend of melodic tunes, vocals and groovy baselines.  

I know you hold it down at Stereo in your hometown Montreal. Is the house scene pretty strong in your city?

The Montreal house scene is definitely one of the most vibrant scenes in the world.  Pretty much every Dj from every genre of house passes through the city on a weekly basis. The people here love a party and the energy is unreal.  Personally, one of the top ten destinations to play in the world especially at Stereo. 

While in the Studio what is your thought process in starting a new track. Do you already know what kind of track you are going to be make or do you just go with the flow?

Most of my inspiration lately when getting into the studio has come about from my touring. With the inspiration still flowing when I get home, first thing I do the next morning is get into the studio. Most of the time I’ll start with one idea and then just let it flow and see where it takes me. The initial idea is usually completely transformed by the end.

Tell us a little bit about your studio set up?

My studio has just recently been overhauled.  It’s now the studio I’ve always dreamt about. I’m running a fully loaded TDM Protools HD 3 system with a Control 24 mixing board equipped with 24 mono focusrite red pre-amps on a Mac G5 with two 23 inch High Definition Mac Plasma Screens. For synths I run two external synths, the Access Virus B and the Access Virus TI.  The list of TDM plug-ins and soft synths is quite huge with highlights including the Access Virus Indigo Soft Synth and the Velvet.

You play a lot in the middle-east, particularly Dubai. Are the clubs there more conservative compared to the rest of the world or do they party just as hard?

Oh they definitely party just as hard and the parties as just are great as they are elsewhere. What you have to keep in mind is that most of the people that do go out clubbing in these parts of the world have either been educated abroad or have traveled the world many times over and have experienced the clubbing culture around the world.  I must admit some of the shows I have played in Cairo are way up there on the list of best gigs. 

What are some of your favorite places to play at?

So many. Lithuania, Dominican Republic, Los Angeles, Bulgaria, Serbia, Egypt, Tunisia, Shanghai and Singapore are a few of those. 

How do you maintain that fantastic hairstyle?

Believe me its not easy ;->  I do my best to keep the dreads looking neat and tidy as often as possible.  This usually entails having the roots reworked every three months to eliminate the fuzz.  Otherwise its pretty much like having any hair do. 

Are there any other projects that we should look out for?

You should definitely check out my radio show “Connected Live” every last Monday of every month on DI.FM and subscribe to the “Connected Live” podcast on itunes.  I’ve had a lot of special guests this year on the show including Dubfire, Desyn Masiello and Spooky and have a great line up coming up with guys like Rene Amesz and Mathew Dekay.  Ned Shepard and I are currently co writing and producing Nadia Ali’s (singer of iio) forthcoming album and have been touring and playing her live shows with Ned on keyboards and me on the guitar.  Ned & I teamed up with local Montrealer Maher Daniel recently under the name SNM with our first release “Itajai Vibes” out in October on Ricky Ryan’s Sick Watona Label as well a whole bunch of mashups and booties.
I’m also working on remixing a few of Nadia Ali’s singles as well as a few originals including collaborations with Mathew Dekay, Ned Shepard and Tommyboy in between all the traveling and touring which I hope to have out by the end of the year.

 Name one track that will always be in your record bad?

Strike vs Cedric Gervais – Spirit Strike (Sultan, Ned Shepard and Maher Daniel’s Miami Reconstruction Remix)

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