It would be wrong to start talking about where Ouissam comes from – after a decade in Asia, he’s now something of a regional entity that has managed to change the dance music scene wherever he has laid down roots.
His approach to a dance floor is as simple as it is intuitive and elegant: nothing that can make a room shudder with joy is barred from his selections. As the founder of Hong Kong’s Cliche Records, he was one of the first in that city to cultivate a disco-house-techno synthesis that shifted the understanding of what could be danced to there. He went on to create the magnetic Homesick and Fragrant Harbour labels, before suddenly setting his sights on Hanoi in Vietnam, where he has established the dance mecca Savage where he runs the monthly queer night Snug. And on top of all that, he found time to curate the coveted Equation festival, now entering its second year.
But beyond his achievements, you find a DJ with a pure love and appreciation for the power of music, and one that has learnt how to harness this love into something that can be transmitted to his dance floors. Moving effortlessly between disco, house and techno, long-lost gems collide with cutting-edge groove to produce a sonic aesthetic that is simply irresistible.
Rifain’s sound is powered by an experimentalism that twists and turns through varied genres with a consistency that cloaks it in its own unique nature. His approach is one of absorption and redefinition, elegantly mixing seemingly divergent elements to guide a dancefloor into deep, downbeat darkness or an opaque dreamscape before rousing it into primal collective movement through fresh tribal energy.
He is also closely involved with Hanoi’s Equation Festival, which had its first installment in 2017. However, his involvement with music in the region goes further back, having co-founded booking agency Cliché Records in Hong Kong, which became a game-changer for electronic music in Asia.
Drawing on his own passion for fresh sounds, Rifain also helped to form Fragrant Harbour sound System, a record label that has brought out EPs from figures such as General Ludd, Fulbert and Renart, LPZ, Broccoli Brothers, as well as sub-label Homesick, which has produced some great edits with the participation of Marquis Hawkes, Borrowed Identity, Mister Ho, Powder and Jonathan Kusuma.
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