D.J. Ammara by Lola Rose

dj ammara

In the heart of London’s theatrical arts, an aspiring adolescent named Ammara Niwaz stood behind the incandescent stage lights of the Shakespeare’s Globe, anxiously awaiting her cue. The sounds of eerie whispers echoed around the dome, as the audience began to take their seats. Directors hastily snapped their fingers whilst performers took their positions and tensions were running high.

After spending many of her early school years singing and acting, alongside graduating with a BFA in theatre studies, the dream to perform in front of thousands was at last a reality. However, as Ammara stepped forth to deliver her lines, a sense of unfulfillment dawned on her. The lack of creative freedom for individuals within the acting industry left an intense desire for her to want to achieve more. Due to Ammara’s habitual pleasure-seeking attitude, the time she spent outside of acting school was largely consumed with raving.

“I always had this obsession with dance music and the whole vibes and lifestyle of it, but I never considered doing it as a job. I’ve been a raver for so long. I started going to bass and jungle raves when I was very young. Some of them were legal and some of them weren’t”.

Reminiscing about the time her friend invited her to attend her first drum and bass rave, Ammara recalled how quickly she became entranced by the intricate sound waves of heavy electronic beats.

“The energy was so fun and then I became addicted and started going out every weekend”.

Subsequently, the switch between working as a professional actor during the day, to a nightlife nutter at the weekend, eventually took its toll and made Ammara question her future ambitions. She knew that she wanted to remain a part of the arts scene yet decided to direct her imagination instead towards the euphoric nature of musical innovation. Acting simply could not suffice for the intense ecstasy evoked through her love of music. Due to the rise of the pandemic, her lack of individual creativity left her stuck in a state of uncertainty regarding what step to take next.

Ammara decided enough was enough and quit the performance field to begin mixing.

“Acting is completely different as someone’s directly telling you what to do. I didn’t feel creatively that I could really be myself even though I still loved it”.

Despite devoting much of her free time involved in the club culture scene, mixing was not a skill Ammara she had much expertise in.

“I did have a really strong knowledge of music already, so it didn’t feel like I was going into the completely unknown. I had been going out for so long and so many of my friends worked in music, so I felt like I knew how to navigate the scene. I was a bit nervous as to how my sound would be received or that people wouldn’t understand it and get me as an artist, but luckily it all worked out”.

Much of Ammara’s dark tech and old school acid sounds are influenced by the music she grew up listening to when she was younger. Specifically, the works of The Prodigy, who blended heavy electronic beats with alternative rock to make innovative works for the British punk subculture.

“I loved the whole package of it and I guess with my music, I am always trying to bring a little bit of that back. My style is definitely out there; it’s not minimal; it’s the complete opposite. It’s big, its ravey, that’s the kind of stuff I love”.

The movement that aroused from the birth of old school and drum and bass during the ‘90s majorly shaped the style of Ammara’s fast breakbeats and her outlook on mixing at large.

“I love that I have all these different influences from club culture as it makes me listen to a lot of different music and it makes my music mine. Bringing in elements from drum and bass and old school music and merging them together to create something a bit more house or techno-like is so fun”.

The skills and knowledge Ammara acquired through her own efforts to engage within club culture significantly affected the way in which she perceived her own artistic aestheticism.

“I had always had these ideas of what I wanted my music to be and how to do it and the whole time I was going out raving I was coming up with ideas of what kind of music I would make and so I thought right I’m just going to go for it”.

Despite wishing to invest in Point Blank musical production courses, the expenses proved to be too much and so instead, Ammara decided to acquire skills by watching old YouTube videos. Although many of her friends were also involved in production, lockdown prohibited her from being able to see and work with them and so she was left to her own creative devices.

“I did manage to figure quite a lot of it out on my own and it was really tough at times. I would get frustrated because I thought I had no clue what I was doing. There were so many times where I said to myself, I’m really shit at this, but I think it was a good thing because I didn’t give up. I just kept going. I said to myself, I’m going to do whatever I want and if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

One of Ammara’s most successful tracks, The Trip, on her EP with Patrick Topping’s label Trick, was in fact the first song she had ever fully completed.

“That was the record that basically started this whole journey for me. It was the first time I’d ever sent anyone my music and the first song I’d ever made on my own and he loved it”.

After Topping received Ammara’s work, he played her mix at a gig in post-lockdown Italy. The reaction to her unorthodox style of acid beats left audiences craving for more. In light of such praise, Ammara was left speechless.

“I remember I was with my housemate when I saw the video of Patrick playing my mix and I literally started crying”.

Following from this, Topping continued to perform her record at many major events around the UK and a few months later the track was officially released and success began to ooze in.

“It made me realise that anything was possible because at that point I’d only just started. It’s crazy that you don’t realise anything could happen and so that’s why I always say to people, just give it a go”.

Topping then decided to give Ammara the opportunity to accompany him on gigs for his label Trick.

“Prior to that I’d never even played hardly anywhere and so I got thrown right into the deep end. I think the first ever gig I did for Trick and the first ever gig I had done after lockdown was in Belfast with an audience of around 8000 people. I was terrified, but I just remember thinking you need to go for it and this is your opportunity. I worked really hard and practiced my mix to make sure that I had a good playlist together that I thought would be perfect for that kind of warm up to showcase my sound”.

Once the lights had dimmed and the music had blurred into a tranquil fade, it was all over. The rapture which aroused from her audiences reaction meant Ammara never had to look back or doubt her work again.

“From that point onwards, it was just non-stop, really. With anything I’ve ever done I’ve always thrown myself in at the deep end, but I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that Patrick has given me. I feel very lucky that I got to work with him compared to anybody else in the industry because we have very similar likes in terms of music, so it felt natural, definitely.”

Unlike the vast majority of DJ’s who work for many years to gain a platform in order to obtain recognition, Ammara was exposed to the industry at a very early stage in her career. By hurling herself into the unknown, Ammara advocated that her lack of forethought gave her the confidence to follow the right path without hesitancy.

“I do know people who have started quite young and had a more gradual build by playing at lots of events until they got to that point. However, I do quite like being thrown in at the deep end because then I don’t have time to think about it too much. For me personally and for my journey, I think if I started earlier, I wouldn’t have done so well”. Despite this, there are many disadvantages that come as a consequence to being a woman within the production industry. When discussing the absence of diversity within current club culture, Ammara asserted that she does not let the oppression of her gender, by male peers within the field, dictate her ability to succeed.

“I love being a woman in this industry and I am proud of it. If anything, I try not to see it as something that is going to hinder me. Instead, I believe there is something quite powerful about it”.

By taking this into consideration, Ammara makes a conscious effort to remain optimistic about the gender gap within the industry as she believes that equality is gradually becoming more attainable.

“I feel like for ages it has definitely been harder for women. A lot of the time in line-ups, I am the only female playing. However, I do feel like I’ve had a lot of support from all genders within the music industry. I’d like to remain positive and believe that there is more, representation for female DJ’s because I am seeing more and more but for a long time it has clearly been very male-dominated”.

Although Ammara is grateful for her fortunate position, gaining a platform so quickly came with a great deal of anxiety when comparing herself to other professionals in the field.

“For me, because of the way that it started and because it all happened so quickly, I did feel a lot of pressure. A lot of people that were doing well in the industry had so much music coming out, but this was the first piece of music I had ever made. When it was released, I was still in the process of learning. It was this weird feeling where I felt like oh my god I’m really glad this has done so well, but also fuck now I have to really stay on top of this because I’ve not got half as much work put out there that other people do”.

Despite these worries, Ammara surpassed the unease by focusing on her idiosyncratic technique of revamping old acid house beats. When speaking on what advice she would give to her younger female audience who are interested in taking up the skill of mixing, Ammara advised that originality is the only way in which you can succeed.

“There were moments when I first started out playing my crazy acid techno music that people would tell me this is too out there, but I disagreed and told them no, I know you don’t get it, but I think some people will and that’s what will make me stand out. I’ve always been good at following my own instincts and I’d say that to anybody else you just have to really go for it. Sometimes I go a bit too out the box, but it’s better to be daring than to play it safe”.

The modification of old school acid beats through her techno trickster ways, therefore, provides a promising future for Ammara’s upcoming success. When concluding the interview, Ammara strongly advocated that women must have a strong sense of self in their ability to create music in order to reach their full potential.

“Do not let the fact that you’re a woman intimidate you. Don’t let the fact that there are more men in the industry intimidate you. There might be times where guys speak to you as though they know more, but you can’t go into it with that mentality. Just be confident and have a real sense of what it is you like, who you want to be and what you want to do as an artist”.

Lola Rose, August, 2022

Lola Rose: Religion vs. Nature in Things Fall Apart & Parable of the Sower: A Comparative Analysis
Analysing socio-political themes of protest cinema in Carla’s song by Ken Loach

This section: Lola Rose: aspiring writer

Written by :

Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

Comments are closed.

Copyright Glasgow Westend 2009 thru 2017

Contact Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End | About Pat Byrne | Privacy Policy | Design by Jim Byrne Website Design