In a region where EDM is only just beginning to take shape, 21-year old DJ and producer Karim Mika is creating tracks that have been dropped in elite clubs around the world. Blurring genre-lines and defying musical norms, the Alexandria-based artist’s tracks have earned the support of artists such as David Guetta, Thomas Gold, Robbie Rivera, Tiësto and Afrojack.
Mika’s track “Acid Trip” which was released on Robbie Rivera’s label, Juicy Music, topped Beatport’s overall charts at No. 18 for two weeks. Mika’s music has since been released by Cr2 Records, Black Hole Recordings and Sander van Doorn’s label, Spinnin’ Records. His most recent track, “Flame”, is set to be hosted by Killer Records, a sub-label from Spinnin’ which will also feature the electronic artist Starkillers.
Tell us about your first experience with music.
I started producing professionally at age 16, but I started recording sounds at like 12. I downloaded a program called FruityLoops. I still use it.
As somebody who learned production first, did you find it difficult to learn how to DJ?
Yeah. For my first gig, I didn’t really know how to DJ. I had experience with production…but [DJ’ing] was really weird. It’s harder to learn how to make songs, but it takes time to learn how to play for different crowds.
You’re based in Alexandria. How is the music scene in Egypt?
The scene here in Alexandria and all over Egypt is great, but the problem is people don’t know all about house and electronic dance music. When we have someone big from outside [Egypt], it’s very cool, but I promise you will never see a crazy crowd in Egypt. People here listen to everything. House music is brand new in Egypt — maybe two or three years old.
What has been your main focus in regards to your music?
The number one thing for me has been production. I want to make tracks I can send to labels and artists. I’ve done tracks for Armin van Buuren, Robbie Rivera, Sander van Doorn. I’m trying different things; exposure overseas is great.
What is you favorite genre to produce and DJ?
Music now is all mixing together. I can’t give a specific genre because everything is mixed. You’ll hear a song with a dubstep drop and a trance loop. We just call it EDM in Egypt—electronic dance music.
EDM has become so popular. How do you try to distinguish your music from everything else that is being played?
I’m always trying to create my own unique touch, because I want people, when they hear my music, to be like, “Yo, this is Karim Mika.” I want to make my own thing—like a new genre, or something like that. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ll see.
Tell us about your DJ’ing style.
I like to do everything together. I’m trying to make my own bootlegs and my own mashups to play live because I want the crowd to hear the stuff they like, but with different sounds.
Turntables or CDJs?
I’m too young for tunrtables. I just know how to play with CDJs, and sometimes I use Serato to add more effects from FruityLoops or from Ableton.
How long did it take you to get familiar with the software?
One year. My main thing is FruityLoops, but I use them all. For production, it’s all about interface. You find one good aspect in each software—every one has something unique to offer.
Your music as earned the support of artists like Joachim Garroud, Robbie Rivera, Afrojack, Thomas Gold, and David Guetta. How did you get attention from the big guys?
I do bootlegs, mashups, everything. I got a few tracks on Beatport—my first release was like number 18 on Beatport. Everyone played it—David Guetta, Oscar G, Chuckie, Tiesto—everyone. To be noticed by big names, you have to make your own thing. When you DJ, you get noticed by the crowd, but not by big [artists].
Any albums coming up?
I just got signed by Spinnin’ Records, by Sander van Doorn. I’ll tell you something exclusive—Starkillers has a new label under Spinnin’ called Killer Records, and I signed my new track “Flame” with it. This is the first time I’ve said that. And right now I’m doing a new track for Joachim Garroud and Chris Willis. It’s called “One Life” and it’s really good. Right now I’m planning on doing two or three new tracks to send to labels.
Albums need vocal tracks, and I haven’t really gotten into that yet because it requires vocalists.
Do you plan on touring?
I’m really looking to do that, but I’m waiting for the best time to go on tour. Last year I really wasn’t producing that much because I wanted to learn new things. This year I promise I have a lot of stuff coming.