An interview with Ameen Harron
He is one of South Africa’s up and coming producers, having worked with a range of the best local musicians, garnering local and international attention. It has been said “the only possible direction for this exciting young man is up.” with those words resounding in my head I set off to meet producer Ameen Harron.
A first impression is the one that counts and Ameen Harron doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a hip hop producer, he may dress like one, but the humble and somewhat soft-spoken man exudes a quiet confidence. When I met him he sat sipping orange juice ruefully explaining he felt a cold coming on from “all the late nights” he’d spent working on projects.
He says “My mom said “You’ve always wanted to make music like the radio makes it” he went on to explain about finding a mic that his uncle had and he thought he was on the radio, all at 8 months old.
He then laughs at my surprise at finding out that he has ADD (causing him to be kicked out of recorder in high school) which prevented him from then continuing music.
He had a passion for art and became involved in “the hip culture” trading break dancing lessons with friends for basic drum lessons and used to pick up guitar from watching friends; he then stepped in to play bass when a friend “couldn’t beatbox and play at the same time” all of which helped him to learn how to play a range of different instruments from guitar to flute.
The influence of the punk rock scene as well as the hip hop culture had him trying his hand at trance but soon got bored as he thought it was “too easy to make”. After completing high school he went on to study art but then dropped out to make music and studied to be a sound engineer; he says “to be honest I learned more out of college then I did when I was in college, I aced the practical’s but theory was always a point I struggled with…”
He and two friends formed W.I.M.P (What. I.’M. Pheeling) in high school and “basically just jammed together” but when the two other members moved on he was left and so began to explore different sounds…
He worked as a producer on an international collaborative album, “which has a funny story behind it”, he says laughing; “to tell you the truth I didn’t want to enter, I ended up giving my mangement 3 beats that were lying around and the funny thing is they came 1st 2nd and 3rd as the judges didn’t know that they were made by the same producer, so they ended up giving me 1st and as a result I got to work with Zubz”.
He confesses to be “accident prone” when it comes to making music, with further exploration it turns out that the beats he doesn’t like or makes rather quickly turn out to be his hits. With the track Part Time Lover Full Time Freek he says “I didn’t intend to make the beat, I had just gotten a new drum machine and I was just making some beats, then another producer came over (his music being very drum influenced) he asked me to show him how the machine worked, so in about 5 minutes I laid down a track. My manager from Silverado Entertainment came, thought it was really cool and I ended up using it…”
The single Part Time Lover Full Time Freek has been a huge success-reaching number 1 on 5fm and has garnered major airplay “I told Zubz I thought it would work as the first single and he was a bit doubtful, to be honest I was over Part Time Lover Full Time Freek by the time everyone started becoming interested in it. I liked the other track he did with RJ Benjamin” he says laughing again, “it turns out was the first single, for various reasons and I guess it worked…”
“It’s been interesting working with the different artists, as when they hear I’m a hip hop producer they have a misconception about the music I make. I’d like to change that…” he says in a discussion about his future direction. He goes on to say that he’ll sit and listen to an artist that he is working with music for days whilst driving to “get a feel for their sound” which makes every session in the studio is different and as such each production an individual work, rather than a collection of works.
As a South African producer and artist he mentions his goals are to “hopefully be able to break into the international market, but don’t all South African artists want that?” He then says reflectively “I’d also like to start a fund to train children musically as when I was younger I had these dreams but nowhere to fulfill them, I’d like to help people if I can”.
After our interview, I left with same words running through my head that had been as I’d arrived “the only possible direction for this exciting young man is up” and up he will go.