• Sunday 18 August
Fusing South Asian sounds with baile funk, dancehall and UK funky
United Kingdom
  • Electro
  • Dance
For fans of
Sam Interface, Provhat Rahman, Yung Singh

A persistent rhythm underpins Ahadadream’s movements. With unflagging energy and passion, the London-based artist manages various facets of his creative self, predominately as a DJ and producer, but also A&R, label-head, event director, and now as one of the leading tastemakers in the UK club scene.

Ahadadream’s music is pure percussive energy, club belters full of skittish drum rolls. With menacing, coiled energy waiting to be unleashed, his unique, drum-focused production draws influence from sounds across the UK, his homeland of Pakistan, the African Diaspora and beyond. Ahadadream’s club weapons have become set staples for Four Tet, Skrillex, Dixon, Jamie XX, Bonobo, Laurent Garnier, VTSS and Ben UFO, while his edits have been co-signed by pop royalty such as Rosalía. Noted as “One To Watch” by the Guardian, in review of his most recent EP, Homecoming, they declared, “Ahad Elley had a dream and, judging by his thrilling club music, that dream involved Catherine wheels of polyrhythmic, brash beats, huge horns and neon-bright... truly, the stuff of ravey dreams.”

“I think the challenge has always been to describe my music succinctly,” Elley explains. “I borrow elements of sounds from across the globe. I want to create music that can’t be contained inside a box. Although I try to include my Pakistani heritage where possible, it’s never about pigeonholing myself in that.” His recent BBC Radio 1 Essential mix, Mixmag Lab and NTS residency are good jumping off points for those looking to unfurl his varied, but distinctly unified sound.

Alongside DJ bookings at the world’s best festivals and clubs, including Glastonbury, Sonar, Printworks, Circoloco at DC10, Fabric, Panorama Bar, Notting Hill Carnival, CTM, Lost Village, Nuit Sonores, GALA, Moonshine, Crssd and more, in October, on the last night of his sold-out residency at East London’s Colour Factory, he played all-night to a rapturous crowd of 1000+, its success spawning his All Night Long tour across the UK later that year.

Indeed, when Ahadadream played the closing party of the legendary 6k capacity venue, Printworks, alongside Peggy Gou, Bicep, Roisin Murphy, HAAI and TSHA, it was Ahadadream’s set the Guardian singled out in their coverage: “during a pummelling set of syncopated club bangers from Ahadadream, a robotic voice rings out over the music: Make space ... make space… make space…” The Guardian were referencing Ahadadream’s own track, Make Space, one of a batch of new music he has been quietly working on this summer, amongst sessions collaborating with Skrillex across the A&R and production of his forthcoming album, due at the end of the year.

“After meeting at a gig in 2019, Skrillex hit me up out of the blue during the pandemic and we started chatting regularly on Zoom,” Elley explains. “He asked me to send some of my unfinished music to him, and then and there, he put it into Ableton and just started working on it. I was just like, ‘what the hell is going on here?!’ That song is now going to be released as a collaboration later in the year. Since then, we've worked together more and more; we played B2B at the very first Dialled In, and at Printworks’ closing party. I also went out to South America to work on music with Skrillex, where I also opened for him and Fred Again. It’s been incredibly inspiring to learn from him.”

Born in Pakistan, Ahad Elley moved to the UK at the age of twelve. After school, he studied Chemistry during the day, whilst DJing and throwing parties at night. He then went on to programme some of Boiler Room’s landmark broadcasts, platforming iconic artists early on in their careers, such as Sherelle and Jyoty.

In 2017, he launched More Time Records with Sam Interface. The label has released artists from Ghana, Trinidad, South Africa, Taiwan and more, their music complimented with a distinctive, rugged UK edge, to create a sound unique to More Time. Soundtracking campaigns for Stella McCartney and Apple, More Time has been described by DJ Mag as “the foremost champions for UK club music” and was nominated for their Best Breakthrough Label award.

Throughout his life and formative career, Ahad was driven in part to provide representation for other South Asian creatives and artists, something he never saw growing up. In early 2021, this led to the birth of Dialled In, a South Asian creative movement. Showcasing a wealth of talent, Dialled In has, perhaps more importantly, fostered a new community.

A resounding success since its inception, Dialled In has hosted festivals, classical concerts, a V&A late, the inaugural Boiler Room Pakistan, and an artist residency in Nepal. “I owe it all to artists such as Ahadadream who have put me forward for so many slots and opportunities”, Surusinghe explained to the Guardian from the Dialled In stage at Glastonbury. “It’s so nice to feel supported by other south Asian artists – that’s what gives me the confidence to keep growing.”

Ahadadream has been at the coalface of the UK club scene for several years now; championing new artists, platforming new sounds and quietly, but confidently, supporting everyone else from behind the scenes.