Fueled by his diverse cultural background IMAD is creating a stir for himself in the EDM music scene. We had the chance for an in-depth Q&A with the 19 years old Lebanese producer. You don’t want to miss out on this very interesting interview – read on.
What made you get into making music?
Before I started making music, I had to fall in love with it first. Ever since I was a kid, music has always been so important to me. Being raised in Lagos, Nigeria, really shaped my appreciation for music and art, since it was a big part of our diverse culture there. I remember my older sister showing me her favourite songs on her computer, my mother playing Enya’s “Only Time” in her room (yes, I still tear up to it) and the car radio blasting local afro-beat tunes. Not to mention a cassette that had a bunch of random music videos on it, which my siblings and I would bump in our playroom almost everyday. I still recall my favourite tracks from that old tape: “Murder On The Dance floor” by Sophie-Ellis Bextor and S Club Juniors’ “One Step Closer”. Shoutout to these OG feel good tunes and moments like these that made me fall in love with music.
As I grew older, I acquired my own taste. I delved into a world of alternative rock and indie bands such as Kings Of Leon, Blink 182 and Green Day. Then came the EDM scene with a lot of Calvin Harris, Avicii, Daft Punk, David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia. All these artists and bands resonate with good memories from my past. Music gave me a feeling I couldn’t find anywhere else and I think thats what made me want to start making it. In the hopes that people could connect, feel and make memories to my music – the same way I did.
DIY vs Indie vs Major – how do you currently exploit your music?
So far, I’ve worked with both Indie and Major labels. Every experience is different but I think the most important part is developing good relationships with whoever you release with. Networking in the music industry is really important. You never know who could lend a helping hand one day or open doors that weren’t even there.
Personally, I think working with labels is good as they can help you reach a bigger audience they already have access to – provided that you are getting a good deal out of it. You don’t want them to be exploiting your music and yourself. It’s also beneficial in the sense that it taught me a lot about how the industry works: learning about different types of record deals, music law and what not. It gave me a good hands on experience on how to manage myself and my relations.
However, there’s no “proper” way to exploit your music. You do what feels best. I think my longterm goal is to be able to independently release music and support a living from it, as it would give me more freedom to put out whatever I want, whenever I want. But, this might change. You never know what the future holds.
Could you sum up some personal milestones in your artist development?
Thankfully, I’ve reached a lot of milestones I never thought I’d get to at this point. I’ve gotten a total 27M streams on Spotify through a couple of originals and remixes I’ve put out – especially my remix of “Toluca Lake” which hit 15,000,000 streams this month. I’ve also reached an all time high of 800,000 monthly listeners this year. Being supported by so many Spotify editorial lists, artists, breaking into viral charts and seeing famous media influencers appreciate my music. I feel blessed for all of these, but after every milestone the bar gets raised higher. This is what keeps me going. It keeps me striving for better results and motivates me to keep moving forward with my music.
Apart from these numbers, I think the most rewarding milestones are the ones I can physically experience. Such as seeing my friends actually like and support my music, going into a random restaurant or mall and hear my music being played, receiving messages from individuals who connect to my music, watching people create dance choreographies around my song, and being able to meet and work with so many talented artists.
Your original tracks and remixes stack up millions of plays on streaming platforms. In your opinion, is there a formula to writing up a streaming hit?
Yes there is. There definitely IS a formula. Take every pop song on the radio. Arguably, they all sound the same to me. It’s not hard to make a radio/streaming hit. That’s obvious. What’s hard is making a hit that’s personal and unique to yourself. That’s whats going to make you stand out. And that’s what I strive to embody.
I don’t follow any “formula” or structure when I make my songs, I take what I feel in the moment and translate it into sounds. This is how I work. If I’m not inspired, I don’t produce anything. Because it wouldn’t have come from somewhere real. I’m grateful that so many people can connect to my music for what it is.
Your tracks got added to massive playlists, including Spotify’s Good Vibes & Wochenende. Can you give us some insights in your playlist game?
Yes! It’s awesome to see Spotify supporting my music on their playlists. I’ve been added to so many of them and been featured on several New Music Fridays. It’s a great way to gain access to such an organic audience. I don’t have any tips or secret keys for how to get on Spotify playlists. If you’re lucky enough you’ll get added. Sometimes it takes months after your release, or just a few days after.
There’s also the idea of promoting your track on user playlists which will drive Spotify’s algorithm to add you in one of their playlists. I think that’s what a lot of people and labels invest in, but a lot of the time it leads to nowhere. Some Spotify playlists aren’t that active, despite them having so many followers. The real gold is in the Editorial lists (not algorithm based), which have more way activity on them. I also have a lot of theories on how you can make it almost certain to get on Spotify playlists, but that’s a conversation for another time!
Can you give us a sneak peek in your production process? What’s influencing your music?
What I produce is mainly influenced from what I’m listening to at the moment and what I’m going through in life. That’s where I get a large part of my inspiration. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Rufus Du Sol, Golden Features and Petit Biscuit. Don’t be surprised if my one of next tracks encompasses elements inspired from these guys! Friends and family play a huge role as well, probably because they are so important to me and I’m lucky to be constantly surrounded by them.
I don’t really have a set production process, every track is a different journey. Mostly I start with finding the right chords that resonate with how I feel, then continue building the rest of the track from there. I usually finish the drop first though. Once I nail every element in the drop, I get a better image of how I’d want the breaks to sound. I also always mix my track along as I’m producing it. This helps with a cleaner workflow and clearer sound quality for experimenting with elements I feel I could add next.
Do you like collaborating with others?
I love collaborating. There’s always so much to learn from other artists. All the way from the creative process to technical aspects of the production. It’s interesting to see how others work because you could end up adopting a lot from them. I would love to one day collaborate with one of my musical idols, or artists that I often listen to their music – that would be a dream come true.
I’ve been fortunate enough to produce music with best friends of mine, such as with the talented Jad Alexander on “Green Light”, who I’ve known since high school, and the amazing Samia on “Ways” and “Getaway” (both of whom you should check out). The best part is that you get to meet people from all over the world, and make those strangers your friends through music.
What are your 3 top software tools for engaging in musical content? Why do you think they’re awesome?
I can give you a top 2 list since they’re the only ones I use.
First one, is your app that made life much easier – ForTunes. It’s really simple and awesome to use because it has all your music profiles connected in one application. My favourite feature in it is checking what playlists your track is getting added to on Spotify, or uploaded on YouTube. Not to forget the cool feature that lets you post your milestones and shoutouts on Instagram stories.
Second is Spotify For Artists, naturally. It gives you a good understanding of how your audience interacts with your music, who they are, and where they are listening from.
How important are data insights for your career developments?
Data insights are really important because they allow you to understand your audience and how well you music is performing. By studying your data, for example, you can develop strategic plans to push your music further in terms of promoting it in regions that your audience exists, or places where they don’t – ultimately making it grow. It also allows you to determine why you are losing/gaining listeners or followers.2 join the family and show some love for this!