Label Mates: Darem Aissa / Suleiman

British-born, now Canada-based, DJ, producer, and label owner Darem Aissa has previously brought music from names like Kris Wadsworth, Butane, Cesare vs Disorder, and Dave Aju to his Suleiman imprint.

Next up on the label is a promising 4-track EP from the label owner himself, which alongside three new Darem Aissa originals also includes a rework from Scottish artist Edit Select.

Joining us for the latest edition of our Label Mates series, Darem talks all things Suleiman, including the humble beginnings of the label, how he goes about finding new music, and what he’s hopeful for in the near future.

You first launched the label back in 2016, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in the beginning?

Hey, thanks for having me. That is correct, Suleiman was launched in 2016 and I’ve come across a number of challenges while getting it off the ground.

Everyone has their reservations about record labels based off a general reputation that permeates across all sectors of the industry. While house and techno have grown at a tremendous rate, which is fantastic, it has also made many apprehensive about what they put their names to.

In the beginning, without a track record to vet my name, the ability to transmit good intentions and therefore the value of an opportunity was not always evident and still isn’t.

Every time things didn’t or don’t work out prematurely because of a missed opportunity to communicate full intentions, I took and still take it as a learning opportunity to fine tune things for the next time. I think communication is, generally, a life-long learning process full of challenges and running a company in the music industry is no different.

And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in running a label since then?

To what degree respect and professionalism can be of importance, or how far they can go with people when dealing with them. This in itself has been an incredible lesson to learn and has had a great impact across many different aspects of my life.

You’ve released music from Cesare vs Disorder, Dave Aju, Butane, and Kris Wadsworth, what’s your typical process when it comes to finding new music?

I typically don’t release often on Suleiman, my original music nor otherwise; this is to better preserve the shelf life of each release as opposed to pumping one out after another. I truly believe that art should not be treated as disposable and the music we release, I consider to be timeless, therefore the label tries to operate in a manner that reflects the merits of the music.

This, however, leaves plenty of time to think of new ideas and options for future projects. I prefer to work with artists who have previously released music that I love and have in my collection. While still keeping my ear to the ground for newer artists, I go through my music library very often and carefully triage the tracks that I love the most.

Once I am comfortable with my choices, I go from there and start trying to locate a contact for the artist and reach out! Some conversations take years to iron out while others have been quite straight forward and simple. Very often, no conversation follows and I simply go back to the drawing board at that point!

Your next release arrives in the form of your own ‘Syriana’ EP, talk us through the three originals on this one?

Syriana is special to me and one that I’ve been waiting a few years now to release. I feel as if I’ve finally unlocked what’s been in my head this whole time, since the very beginning, of bridging classical orchestral Arabic music with modern occidental electronic music, while keeping it underground and doing so in a non over the top fashion, whatsoever.

‘Drop of Oil’ samples my grandfather reciting one of his poems and ‘Syriana’ includes some of his strong statements made during an interview I came across. The opportunity to add my own words also presented itself and I done so on ‘Sunshine’, a very old track of mine, which deserved a revisit and a polishing.

And it also includes a rework from Scottish producer Edit Select, how did that come about?

Edit Select was booked in Portugal by a few of my friends and for my other work, I was going to be in Glasgow the following week. I’m a big fan of his and attempted to meet during my trip but he was very busy. We kept in touch but it’s only after he came to Canada a few years later that we started the conversation regarding working on a project together and this remix is the outcome of that!

What else might we see on the label in the near future?

I have some really cool projects coming out! The next release, out this fall, includes two originals from Mathias Schaffhauser and a killer remix by Dub Taylor. There are a few other really exciting releases that will be announced closer to 2023 and will be worth the wait.

What’s your favourite label, besides Suleiman of course?

Progrezo Records takes the win on this one. They are a perfect example of quality, underground, electronic music and they aren’t young either! They’ve been running for quite some time now and set the bar very high for running a label. I’ve always admired their standards and how they stay true to what it is that they do.

What advice would you give to anyone that’s considering to launch their own label in 2022?

Sometimes it feels like the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Be prepared to stay true to your beliefs and prepare to potentially be the tortoise!

Anything else to add before we go?

I’d like to give a shout out to all of those who have contributed and helped me on this journey.

Darem Aissa – Syriana EP is out June 17th on Suleiman.