Hats & Klaps are Hamza and Amin, a musically-obsessed duo who count the likes of Jeff Mills, Kerri Chandler, DVS1, Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos. Raresh and Dubfire,among their many influences. Born and raised in the Middle East, the duo are quickly earning a reputation outside of their home region for their intricate dedication to discerning house and techno. At home, the guys have long represented the fast-emerging local scene with distinction, to the point that they’ve played alongside names such as Dj Three, Nicola Cruz, Marc Houle, Nima Gorji, Sasha and more. No longer phased by appearing on such line-ups, the guys are surely destined for their own top billing soon. We put some questions their way recently, touching on everything from b2b dynamics, legendary techno albums and how Hats & Klaps first came to be…
Can you tell us a bit about your musical education? Are you self-trained electronic musicians or how did you learn it?
We are self-trained electronic musicians as both our families are musically enriched so we were raised and exposed to different kinds of music.
Hamza’s father used to own a record shop in Amman, Jordan back in 1977, surrounded by music. Amin’s Grandfather used to collect vinyl and reels from the 50’s. We still have the collection to this day and we listen to it most of the time and we also use it as a sampling gallery. As we grew older we got introduced to electronic music back in the late 90’s with albums such as “Northern Exposure” by Sasha and John Digweed and Paul Oakenfold “Tranceport” album and “Back to Basics” by Danny Tenaglia.
How did you guys meet? Was it through a shared love of electronic music? Did you click right away?
We met in summer of 2012 through a common friend where we played an awesome dynamic b2b set. The same summer we travelled to Ibiza where we discovered we share lots of common depth in music that we decided back there and then to form this collaboration. And here we are now!
You’ve a really great alias, Hats & Klaps. Can you tell us a bit about how the name came about? Is your music very percussion-based would you say?
Yeah mostly our music has percussive elements and weird patterns. The name basically reflects Hi hats and claps which are the drum elements that give Rhythms to music. However, we added a twist with the “K”. Which leads us to the question who’s Hats and who’s Klaps? We’ll let you guess…
What did you love about electronic music when you heard it first? Was it the music or the scene? Or both?
Definitely the music when we first heard it we got hooked to the repetitive rhythms and hypnotic patterns and how the transitions are glued together in different albums and compilations. It sounded futuristic, as we both came from the same area in the 80’s. inspired from Hip-Hop and RandB and many other music, were synthesisers and drum machines were heavily used in different genres, then going to clubs and raves enhanced the passion where the scene was all about the music and dancing with no smart phones distraction, being in the moment and enjoying the drive that djs and live performance will take you to, going back home with sonic inspiration being introduced to different depth and characteristic of sound.
What do you think you saw in one another musically? What do you think the other person brings to the table?
When I first met Amin I was impressed by his music collection, also using drum machines and samplers to add on his live dj sets, with knowledge of DAW (ableton). Hamza has the musical knowledge and depth in the musical collection adding to that a wonderful flow and transitions whether it be in a live gig situation or a mixed set. As we both complement each other musically. We are interested in snappy drums, groovy and heavy bass lines, deep lush futuristic sounds that generate pads and chords, so it’s like when House meets Techno, with progressive bass lines and tech feeling.
Is working as a duo ever challenging? Or do you agree on most things?
Not really, communication and being straight to the point, also speaking out our mind and opinions freely while listening to each other, always reaching out to smooth dynamics and decisions.
Is there a lot of compromise involved then? Or do you generally agree on most things?
We don’t believe there is any compromise. The fact that we both talk and listen to one another to reach a decision makes it easy and straightforward, especially that we are after the same goal.
Can you talk us through your studio set-up a bit? How often do you get to the studio and how does the process work between you?
We are in the studio almost on a daily basis, sometimes we jam and come up with new ideas for music. And sometimes we get straight into working and finalising tracks. And other times we just chill and watch movies, talk, listen to music and order food, the studio is where we hang out always cuz when the creativity hits we are around to catch the moment. So usually we sketch the idea together or separately whether Hamza worked on the track in his studio or I did in the studio and if we felt the track has potential then I take on the technical side of things to finalise the track.
Our studio setup and workflow is dynamic as we use softwares and hardwares, so we mix and match depend on the project, there is no specific way to start a project but more often we start with drums, kick and bass then we layer the percussions, sound design some pads, atmospheric, drones-FX and music/melodic elements if needed. We keep it simple with moving forward kind of drive and energy.
Does working together makes you better musicians do you think? What areas could you improve in?
Yes of course, because each one has his own perspective in approaching music that we share and we have a constructive criticism to our music production process and direction in sound and music style so this will keep us evolving.
Similarly, how does it work when you’re DJing? Do you plan your sets in advance or is it always on-the-fly?
It’s both – we try to visualise where we are performing to get an idea of the surroundings and atmosphere and vibe before the gig, then we make a playlist and collection of tunes and favourite records that we want to drop. Then we are in a state of flow just playing the journey depending on our reading of the crowd and interaction of the dance floor all while keeping the dynamic of changing at any time.
What DJs and producers really inspire you the most?
Jeff Mills, Kerri Chandler, DVS1, Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos. Raresh, Dubfire, Shonky, tINI, Sonja moonear and many other names. We love their dedication and how they mastered their craft.
You’ve DJ’d in Amsterdam at ADE, in Barcelona, Ibiza, Bucharest, Amsterdam and the US. What’s been your favourite moment to date?
Favourite moment was in ADE. Spain, Ibiza always has that magic but every place is special. Each city has its own flavour, dance floor vibe and energy, we are still looking forward to South America especially Argentina. We would love to perform there.
You’ve also appeared on line-ups with the likes of Dj Three, Nicola Cruz, Marc Houle, Nima Gorji, Sasha, Crihan, Piticu, Marcelo Cura, Martin Buttrich and more. Do you ever have to pinch yourself when this happens? Or are you more used to playing with these sort of guys now?
In a way we got used to playing with sort of heavy weight djs. It’s always fun to share the dance floor with such talent. Especially that we have been USA / L.A for the past 10 years being engaged with the industry and networking and playing for our friends Minimal Efforts events and Clinic Wednesdays. Also playing at our homeland Festival MDL Beast “Sound storm Festival” which is the biggest festival in the region.
Do you make goals as musicians? Can you talk us through some of your ultimate aims and how far you want to go?
Give back and add to the scene and community. We already established our own events and entertainment agency called “Blended Entertainment” where it will introduce different branded nights and gigs to bring in Djs and live performances. In addition, we are also aiming to establish a record label at the right time.
Does it feel strange when you’re playing individually?
We used to play individually before we met in 2012, as we both have been DJing since 2004, but now we are the face of one coin, would say.
What’s next for you guys that you’re really excited about?
We are excited to launch our Night early 2023 called “TONL” hosting different artists and performers. And making more music, collaborating with different producers, instrument players and singers. We are also working on a live set performance, infusing visual art with music.