An up-and-coming voice in the electronic music and instrumental hip-hop scene, the South’s own AF THE NAYSAYER is a Louisiana-based, Los Angeles-bred producer. AF cites g-funk producer DJ Battlecat and legendary video game composer Yuji Takenouchi as his biggest influences. Iman Omari, Los Angeles producer and singer-songwriter, describes AF’s first EP as, “Electrifying soul-hop with a splash of purple rain; full of vibes!”
AF’s debut EP, the Autodidact Instrumentals Vol. 1, is a masterful postmodern blend of 80′s R&B and 90′s West Coast hip-hop that has served as the backdrop for many BMX web edits for FITBIKECO, DAN’S COMP, and ESPN. His collaborations in New Orleans have led him to co-curate producer JJ DOOM ”Viberian Experience” music series, as well as the creation and hosting of the Dolo Jazz Suite showcase. AF is also currently the New Orleans ambassador for Red Bull Music Academy.
Last month, as AF prepared to release and promote his new EP “Armed Wing Battle Unit”, we sat at his porch NOLA style and talked about his influences, creative process, the meaning of his name and sneaking into parents rooms.
AF, THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO DO THIS INTERVIEW WITH US! INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR MUSIC BACKGROUND.
I’m Amahl Abdul-Khaliq, I make music as AF THE NAYSAYER, I’ve been making music under that name since Summer of 2007, but didn’t start pursuing music as a career until 2011. Musically, I was always into punk rock as a kid. I played a little guitar, and I was trying to start a punk band, but it was hard for me to find like-minded people to do such a thing. I was also into to hip-hop production and electronic music, but had no idea how to go about it.
I was exposed to a lot of music as a child, so my music taste was very mature, maybe because as a kid I didn’t really have family members my age. I was talked to as an adult, and they were always introducing me to their music. Around the house, there were great records, tapes, CD’s. Sometimes, I would sneak into my parents’ room and take some music to listen to.
SOME PEOPLE SNEAK INTO THEIR PARENTS ROOM TO STEAL WHISKEY, YOU WENT IN THERE TO GET SOME RECORDS! RIGHT ON, WHICH ARTIST INSPIRED AND PUSHED YOU TO START MAKING MUSIC?
There are so many names, but I would say my biggest influence is the German producer Jan Jelinek and his project Farben. His music is very glitchy and experimental, some people describe it as “microhouse” because the drums sound really small and there is a lot of small snippets of samples. He is always experimenting and pushing things, trying to create new music and I think that’s beautiful and essential in an artist.
VIDEO GAMES SEEMS TO BE A STRONG ELEMENT IN YOUR MUSIC. HOW MUCH HAS THIS IMPACTED AND SHAPED YOUR SOUND?
Video games are a big influence for sure. It’s an important part of my music even to this day. On my new EP, “Armed Wing BattleField”, I produced and developed a soundtrack for a fake video game. These scores and soundtracks have some kind of childhood whimsical feel about them. Some of the best music I’ve ever heard came from video games.
HOW DID THE NAME “AF THE NAYSAYER” COME ABOUT?
When I was younger, in middle school, I wanted to start a punk rock band, and we were going to call ourselves “The Naysayers” or “Naysayism.” I always kept that name in my back pocket since I was 13. So when I started producing music I wanted to break it down further. Depending on how you know me, a lot of my facial expressions don’t match how I actually feel, so I’m kind of hard to read. Because of that, people started saying that I was like an enigma or mysterious, so I started playing around with that. An enigma is a problem that is hard to solve, and I started thinking about physics and abstract functions, something that is always evolving and changing. So it became Abstract Function The Naysayer, which captures my punk rock roots, teen angst, and who I am as a person as I change and evolve.
WHAT TOOLS ARE YOU USING AT THE MOMENT IN YOUR PRODUCTIONS?
In the past, I would try to use different types of hardware and software, but now I’m trying to be as simple as I possibly can. If it’s not part of the 80% equation for myself, I get rid of it. I’m only using a laptop with FL Studio.
YOU HAVE MADE MANY COLLABORATIONS WITH RAPPERS AND PRODUCERS, HOW DOES THAT PROCESS HAPPENS TO YOU ?
For me, it’s not really about money, it’s more about the connection I feel with the artist or the song. For example, for the song R-96 with Shizuku Kawahara of tinörks from Japan, I’ve been following them since the days of MySpace and a friend of mine had just made a song with her, so I asked him to get us in contact and we started collaborating. Shizuku are actually working on a new song. It’s really about the connection that I have with the artist.
TELL US ABOUT THE CREATION PROCESS AROUND THE NEW EP (Armed Wing Battle Unit), HOW DID THE CONCEPT COME ABOUT?
The creation of the EP “Armed Wing Battle Unit” came over time, I actually worked on two video games soundtracks, “Mecho Wars” and “Steam Pirates”, with film and game composer Sean Beeson. Then, I started thinking about making music for my own game. I started creating this concept of a Japanese police force in a shoot ‘em up arcade game. I developed the game’s characters, themes, ideas, levels, the whole range of game design, and then created the soundtrack for it. I’m really proud of “Armed Wing Battle Unit” and I think y’all are going to love it.
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