By: Dream Chimney

The following interview was conducted on March 15, 2024

A.B. HABIBIA.B. HABIBI is the artist name of Edinburgh-based Aymen Bensaad. A passionate music maker who has grown up in Scotland, honing his craft alongside a wave of talented artists. Born to Tunisian parents, Aymen spent summers in Jendouba soaking up the Tunisian spirit. Tunisian in body and soul, Scottish in heart and mind, the latest signing to Brighton based Vicious Charm Recordings, presents ‘Helfy Mission & Mother Africa.’ Leftfield, off center wonk that is oh so good..

We took a moment to sit down beside the chimney with this exciting new artist.

Thanks for talking to us. Where are you at this moment and how are you spending the day?

Hello. I'm currently in Edinburgh, in bed, about to get ready to go and make some merguez. Merguez are North African sausages. Sausage and sound are my things.

Where were you born? Where are you based?

I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and I'm still based here, locally in Leith.

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What do you love most about where you are living? What keeps you where you are today?

It's not a big city. My family and friends are what keep me here. It's my home.

If you could choose anywhere else in the world to live, where would that be?

I'm happy in Edinburgh, but maybe somewhere where the sun shines more often by the sea.

How long have you been making music?

I’m more of a studio head than musician. I didn’t grow up learning any instruments or that. My first steps into making music were made whilst studying film many years ago. I write a lot of words and my friend Mark Thompson (on the same course) made music. He asked me to contribute some words and vocals to his music. He taught me the basics, and more about music making with a DAW. We collaborated lots over the years and had many good times.

Are you a DJ too? What came first?

I started with words and still write a lot of words, not necessarily melodies. Poetry or wee stories, whatever idea springs to mind. Over time, production, engineering, and the studio definitely became my happy space. So first and foremost, producing, but I have always collected music and do like to play out as a DJ, at any given opportunity.

What kind of artists, DJs, genres were you into growing up?

Hip Hop, Soul, my brothers rave cassettes were in his Walkman constantly that he let me use. The Prodigy, Leftfield, Massive Attack, Portishead, funk, reggae, disco. The usual goodness.

Influences brought to the home by my big brothers and sisters played a massive part in my musical makeup. Dirty Dancing, Grease, Menace II Society, the Cure, Eurythmics, Prince, James Brown all that kind of good stuff.

Who are the artists that you follow right now?

Woo. Lord Of the Isles. Otherlands, Callum Easter, Young Fathers, Helena Hauff, Andy Stott, Eyes of Others.

What is the most recent record you purchased or downloaded?

Brenda Ray. Perfume Of the Soul

If you could choose a few words to describe the vibe of A.B. HABIBI, what would they be?

There is no music policy. I make what I feel at the time and whatever comes out at the end of the session, is it. I like sound and sonics, experimenting with sound, tape machines, voice notes, old analog gear. Just playing around and having fun.

Talk to us about the new EP and the initial idea. When did you first approach this concept and what was your original intention?

There wasn’t a concept or intention. I wanted to sort my workflow in the studio to capture things on the fly. These songs coincided with my surroundings, the news, family matters and a trip back to the motherland (Tunisia) where I have a lot of family. I hadn’t been back since my father’s passing but used to go every year until that time. So maybe what you hear on the record is reflective of that.

What was most important for you to convey through these two tracks?

I wanted the music to sound raw and as I heard it in my head, in the room at that time with mistakes. With limitations, using three pieces of equipment. Getting to that point was a good feeling. Recording live to tape isn’t for everyone but I love it.

What are you most proud of with this release?

My kids can finally hear my music in a finished state.

What was the most challenging part of bringing the EP together?

Time. Finding the time to immerse myself in sonics can sometimes be hard with life responsibilities flooding in at all moments.

How did you connect with Vicious Charm?

I met Damian who runs the label through our Amateurism crew. We were all friends and musical comrades. Our mutual brother Leo (head honcho of amateurism and the legend who brings us all together) put my stuff under his nose. Now we are here. Which I’m very grateful for

Who are the other artists/musicians on this EP that you would like to shout out?

It’s just me on this record but I share a studio with good friends. So, Callum Easter, Young Fathers, Chris, and Teresa. For putting up with the noise. Also, Leo, Damian, Rob, Gavin, Scott, Bush, mum, Tertia, Rob, Gav, the whole Amateurism collective, Mark Thompson, LOTI.

What drives you to create music?

It’s my escape. I want to show my kids anyone can be creators and I just like going to the studio.

What has been one of your favorite moments from the past year?

Going back to Tunisia and connecting in a different way

Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?

Mostly through friends, my mates Ewan Chambers and Leo Walton and other Amateurism crew. Labels like Athens of The North.

Is there anything that you would like to tell us about you?

I would rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.

As I get older, I like to take a pee sitting down. Much more satisfying

What can we hope to see next from A.B. HABIBI?

More music on Vicious Charm


Check out the latest release from A.B. HABIBI


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