Interview: Robbie Akbal

Alongside an impressive run of strong releases on top house imprints like Sol Selectas, Get Physical, and Crosstown Rebels, Mexican DJ & producer Robbie Akbal has also put out a number of quality productions from his peers via his own record labels.

The now Berlin-based artist owns two different labels in Akbal Music and Midnight Riders, and it’s the latter which that he returns to this week as he releases his brand new ‘Phangan’ EP, which alongside his original title track, also features remix work from both Alex Twin and Jim Rider.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with him about the new tracks, how the Midnight Riders sound differs from that of Akbal Music, and what else he might have coming to our feeds in the near future. Read the full discussion with Robbie Akbal below.

Hi Robbie, how are things over in Mexico for you at the moment?

Hello everyone, I’m based in Berlin at the moment, and played at Kater Blau last Saturday.

You’re about to release your new ‘Phangan’ EP on your own Midnight Riders imprint, talk us through the title track on this one?

Indeed, this track takes its inspiration from the picturesque Koh Phanghan island in Thailand, which is known for its tranquillity. The concept for the track arose when a Mexican friend of mine, Sidartha Siliceo, shared an incredible recording session of himself playing the Sitar. I instantly had the idea of blending it with some hypnotic elements to create a captivating percussive journey.

It also includes two great remixes from Alex Twin and Jim Rider, what was your reaction to those when they first came back?

I was really delighted when first listening to both remixes, as I really admire Alex and Jim for what they have released on labels like All Day I Dream. It has been a true honour to have them rework my music.

How exactly does Midnight Riders differ from your already established Akbal Music imprint?

The intention is to explore a different sonic direction with Midnight Riders, shaping it towards a slightly grittier electronic sound that is designed more for night time. On the other hand, Akbal Music takes on a more organic approach, embracing music for sunny days and beach parties.

And you’ve also released music on labels like Sol Selectas, Get Physical, and Crosstown Rebels, what have these labels taught you that you’ve carried over into running your own?

Yes, all of them are highly consistent music outlets with exquisite music selection, and I take the same approach with my own record labels. Working with those other labels has also helped me to connect with multiple artists, as I have common ground with others who have released on the same imprints, and that’s been the icebreaker that started a lot of conversations.

Which other labels might we see you releasing with in the near future?

I have an upcoming collaboration with some great Japanese artists called Akira Arasawa, Mamazu and Reo Matsumoto, which will be released on Akbal Music, and also feature a remix by Unders. Also, with the same Japanese trip we had collaborated with Nhii and a Japanesse hiphop artist called Nene, where the outcome of that is a crazy, non-genre house record.

What’s one EP or album that you’ve really been enjoying in 2023?

At the moment, I really love Adam Ten, Mita Gami and Yamagucc’s sound, so anything by those guys I’ve had on repeat.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you want to bring attention to before we go?

I just came back from a great tour in Japan and South Korea which included a gig at Air House Festival and I have to say that I really love playing in Asia. The music scene has such big potential, I love the culture, food, and their approach to music. Also, at the end of last year, I played at Wonderfruti Festival in Thailand, which was mind blowing, and I really recommend everyone to explore this amazing continent.

Robbie Akbal – Phangan EP is out June 9th on Midnight Riders.