HearThuG – Where North Africa meets the rest of the world

With his uniquely explosive style that is currently drawing plaudits from all corners of the underground we have sat down with Tunisian artist HearThuG. Beginning our discussion, we delve into the very origins of the sound that would soon develop into one of the most interesting on the current scene, “My route into electronic music began when I stumbled upon Shlomi Aber’s album in 2007. Intrigued by his sound, I delved deeper, eventually starting my own production journey in 2010 under various aliases. It wasn’t until 2012 when I adopted the nickname HearThuG and had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with H.O.S.H, resulting in my first vinyl release in a New York based label. The track garnered attention, earning a spot as one of the top tracks of the year in DJ Mag—a moment that solidified my passion for electronic music.

Tunisia and much of North Africa is currently seeing a huge uptick in activity both in events and musical output from the artists that reside in these scenes. HearThuG is at the center of this surge of activity, and our conversation uncovers which scenes were his initial point of entry, “In the beginning, I was heavily involved in the local underground club scene. I would spend weekends hopping between different venues, absorbing as much as I could from various DJs and live acts. I was particularly drawn to the vibrant community of like-minded music enthusiasts who shared a passion for innovation and creativity. This scene was a melting pot of genres, which allowed me to explore and appreciate the diverse range of electronic music.”

HearThuG goes on to further point out the intricacies of the Tunisian scene, “The electronic music scene here has a unique flavor, influenced by both local and international sounds. While it was somewhat niche when I first got involved, there was a strong sense of community and a growing number of events and festivals that brought together fans and artists from all around the world. Being part of this evolving scene in Tunisia was incredibly inspiring for my musical journey. At some point I gathered with four of my friends and created Dance Till Death, we threw parties at different locations at the time with some of our friends, Dance Till death is now a well established record label owned by two of my friends.

Discussion soon turns to the current status of HerThuG’s movements and the scenes that he is a part of, “Currently, I’m involved in a couple of different scenes. On one hand, I’m still deeply connected to the Tunisian electronic music scene, which has grown significantly over the years. There are now more venues, festivals, and a broader audience that appreciates electronic music. On the other hand, I’ve also expanded my reach internationally, collaborating with artists and performing at events across Europe, Asia and of course Africa. This broader perspective has allowed me to blend different influences into my music and bring a piece of Tunisia to the global stage.

With North Africa becoming an emerging power in the world un underground with many rising talents and even more top quality events and festivals we hear how these scenes, especially Tunisia has evolved, “The evolution of the electronic music scene, both locally and globally, has been remarkable. In Tunisia, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of venues and festivals dedicated to electronic music. There’s also been a surge in local talent, with more producers and DJs emerging and gaining recognition.” Every local scene will eventually grow, but taking the step to join the wider community is not as easy as it sounds. This is exactly where Tunisia finds itself at the moment and HearThuG explains how this is happening at present, “Globally, the scene has become more interconnected, thanks to the internet and social media, which have made it easier for artists like me to share their work and collaborate across borders. The music itself has also evolved, with new sub-genres and innovations constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It’s been exciting to witness and be a part of this dynamic growth.

Throwing this topic out to the wider continent and where the North African community is headed, “The underground nature of the scene allows for experimentation and innovation. Without the constraints of commercial expectations, artists have the freedom to explore new sounds and push boundaries. This has led to the emergence of diverse subgenres and styles that reflect the eclectic nature of North African music culture. Despite facing challenges such as limited resources and infrastructure, the scene is fuelled by passionate individuals who are dedicated to nurturing and promoting electronic music in the region.” 

Grassroots initiatives, underground events, and online communities play a crucial role in connecting artists and audiences, fostering a sense of belonging and support within the scene. Additionally, the increasing accessibility of technology and digital platforms has enabled artists to reach wider audiences and collaborate across borders. Social media, streaming platforms, and online forums have become valuable tools for networking, sharing music, and organizing events, helping to amplify the voices of North African electronic artists on a global scale.

Having covered HearThuG’s home and adopted communities we move on to discuss his first passion – producing. Not every artist joins the electronic music industry as DJ’s, as he explains, HearThuG is on such artist, “I actually began my journey in electronic music as a producer before I started DJing. My initial fascination was with creating sounds and experimenting with different software and hardware to produce my own tracks. I spent countless hours learning the intricacies of music production, from sound design and sampling to mixing and mastering. This hands-on approach allowed me to develop a unique sound and a deep understanding of the technical aspects of music creation.

HearThuG has managed to create quite a unique sound of his own, so it was interesting to learn of his even more unique influences, “When I began producing, my influences were a blend of jazz and hip hop. Jazz, with its complex rhythms, improvisational elements, and rich harmonic structures, fascinated me. I loved the way jazz musicians could create such intricate and emotive pieces spontaneously. This influence is evident in my approach to melody and harmony, where I strive to incorporate a sense of fluidity and spontaneity into my electronic music.

Hip hop, on the other hand, brought a different kind of energy and rhythm. The beats, the sampling culture, and the way hip hop producers could transform everyday sounds into musical elements were incredibly inspiring. I admired the creativity and innovation that hip hop artists brought to their productions, and I wanted to capture some of that raw, rhythmic power in my own work.” In a similar vein, it is not always a given that producers would easily make the step from the studio to the DJ booth, “The transition from producing to DJing was quite natural for me. My background in production gave me an edge in understanding how to structure a set and maintain a flow, while DJing gave me immediate feedback from the crowd, which in turn influenced my production work. Over time, the synergy between producing and DJing has become a vital part of my artistic identity, allowing me to continuously evolve and innovate in both realms.”

With so many musical influences that go into HearThuG’s sound it is interesting to see how he has continued to harness these, “Since I began my journey in electronic music, my musical direction has evolved significantly. Initially, my focus was heavily influenced by jazz and hip hop, which formed the backbone of my early productions. I experimented a lot with sampling, intricate rhythms, and improvisational elements, aiming to create a sound that was both innovative and rooted in these genres.” We continue delving into this ever evolving sound, “As I gained more experience and began DJing, my exposure to a wider range of electronic music genres broadened my perspective. I started incorporating elements of Acieeed! deep tech, techno, and UK into my music. The energy of the dance floor played a crucial role in shaping my sound, pushing me to explore more driving beats, deeper basslines, and immersive soundscapes. Additionally, collaborating with other artists and performing at various events, both locally and internationally, introduced me to new styles and techniques. This cross-pollination of ideas helped me refine my sound and develop a more cohesive musical identity.”

Drilling down into his sound brought up the topic of his current musical direction and given the previous discussions this is not a quick route, “Arriving at this sound has been a journey of exploration and refinement. After years of experimenting with various genres and techniques, I began to understand what resonated most with me and my audience. It also led me to launch Are You Alien recordings, I always felt like my sound has a certain uniqueness to it, and I wanted my label to explore more productions that had that special sound.” We round out our conversation with his own track for our Free Download series, while he normally lets his music do the talking he hints at perhaps a different side to his output, “‘Nighttime Falls’ is inspired by the recent chapters of my life. The track delves into a slightly different style than my usual, yet it still bears the HearThuG touch that defines my sound.

You can download “Nighttime Falls” from HearThuG for FREE here.

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