Nationality: Danish / Egyptian
Occupation: Producer, writer, composer and vocalist
Current Release: Ashibah's new single "My Eyes Only" is out via Defected's sub label D4Dance.
Gear Recommendations: Novation Peak! That polyphonic synth is a killer. Made 90% of my tracks on it the past 2 years.
A free VST called RaveGenerator it's an amazing tool for making house music.
If you enjoyed this interview with Ashibah and would like to find out more about her music, head over to her personal website. You can also visit her on Instagram, Facebook and Soundcloud.
What was your first studio like?
My first studio was a composition of a notebook, a laptop and a microphone.
How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My setup has evolved immensely, I started as a singer and songwriter so my focus was vocal recording. But as time went on I started getting super interested in production and now I’m totally obsessed with synthesisers so it has actually evolved quite a bit.
My most important pieces of gear are my novation peak synth, SM7B shure mic, my Apollo interface and my AiAiAi Tma 2 studio headphones.
The digital studio promises endless possibilities at every step of the process. What is it that you actually need from these potentials and how do go about you selecting it? How do you keep control over the wealth of options at the production stage?
What’s most important for me is using my time wisely when it comes to making music. What I really enjoy in the digital studio possibilities is the flexibility. Being able to work in any location or using any kind of set up because sometimes when creativity hits you just wanna open up your laptop and get to work! That’s one of the best features the digital studio possibilities give you.
A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?
I love both! I love being able to take my laptop and my headphones and sit in the dog park and work while my dog plays, but I also do love being in the studio and the atmosphere of being inside a studio so it all completely depends on what mood I wake up in.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customised devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
As I mentioned earlier I’m all about flexible set up so my Arturia Minilab, my TR-6S drum machine and my Apollo Twin interface mean the world to me! Those are pretty much some of the main elements that I use because I can take them with me anywhere.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
I think it’s a wonderful relationship. It's made working a lot easier and makes you focus on the important parts because the technology just supports the process.
Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive.
Totally! I think it’s really important to use some energy from the start to make your set up fast and easy to use!
So when I started with ableton 11 and my mini SSD I made templates and a folder system that is time saving for my workflow so I can get to being creative fast.
Despite the aforementioned near endless possibilities, many productions seem to follow conventional paths. How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?
Well you know they say old habits die hard but I also love trying new things! One day a week I get into something new to test it and see if it enhances my workflow. A synth, a software, anything I have heard about on my fav podcasts or read about somewhere. You should always evolve as much as possible.
Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?
Most of my ideas come before I come into the studio. I will have an idea or a melody come up and I pretty much plug and play. My avg recorder app on my phone is full of melody ideas and weird sounds. (laughs)
How important is it for you that you personally create or participate in the creation of every element of a piece – from sound synthesis via rhythm programming to mixing?
It’s very important, because I am a control freak. A big one and I want to be a part of everything.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
No actually. There have been developments in the technologies I have used that have made my processes better, faster and more convenient but never questioned for sure.
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
For me the amazing part of making music and being creative is the energy, love and joy of creating. It’s so real! Adding AI would change that emotion and take something away from me I think. The human emotion and energy that comes with the process. I don’t think it’s for me.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
One thing that has bothered me for years is why displays on synths always have to be so damn small! Make bigger displays, please.