AYN (aka Aya Nasif),a Jordan techno producer/DJ, is always searching for musical inspirations to merge sounds into mixes that keep you on the edge. 

Influenced by her Arabic roots, and guided by her love for western and exotic melodies, she Specialises in techno – AYN has played in some of the region’s finest clubs and festivals, headlining and opening for rising names in the electronic music scene such as Rafael Cerato, Seth Schwarz, Emanuel Satie, SAMA’, Christian Smith, Francisco Allendes Super Flu and more. 

AYN brings progressive soul, groove and energy to the dance floor – uniting with others to dance, live and love. 

She has joined us in a conversation today about her musical inspirations and her newest EP NXT CHPTR – AYN Feat. Yasmine D.

How are you, tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m happy and grateful I just released a New EP “NXT CHPTR – AYN Feat. Yasmine D.” on September 24, and I’ve been receiving great feedback so far. The EP is currently at #4 on Beatport’s Top 100 Releases “Techno (Peak Time / Driving)” and at #12 on Beatport’s Top 100 New Releases & Albums. To tell you a bit about myself, I’m AYN (aka Aya Nasif) a Techno DJ & Producer from Amman, Jordan. I started DJing at the end of 2017, and production a few months before that. I love electronic music, as it gives me the space to feel free and at one with the universe. AYN has always been a part of me, an alter ego waiting to be unleashed I like to take listeners on musical journeys through my sets and productions – in turn giving them the chance to let go on the dance floor, to feel free and limitless. 

You originate from Jordan, how is the scene there, what got you into dance music?

The openness that I found in the world of electronic and dance music is what attracted me to it the most – it’s always provided me with a space to escape into a world of freedom, a safe haven so to speak. It’s like entering a vacuum of sound and space – where time doesn’t exist.

As for the music scene in Jordan, the electronic music scene in Amman is definitely growing. There’s more and more interest in electronic music, and “Techno” in particular, especially amongst the younger generations who are bringing back that dance music energy to the city. While many brands, organizers and promoters are contributing to the evolution of the local scene – whether by supporting local talents, or hosting events featuring International names alongside local opening acts – the scene still lacks bigger opportunities for local talents. By bigger opportunities I mean – bigger stages, and electronic music festivals. The last proper music festival catered to this genre of music ended in 2010, “Distant Heat”. A festival that existed for 8 years, held in the outskirts of the desert in the heart of Wadi Rum (Jordan). The festival hosted big names like “Armin Van Buuren”, and “Above and Beyond”. Unfortunately, back then I was too young to attend this festival, and when I was old enough I went off to college in the US. By the time I was back in Amman, the festival had come to an end. I definitely see the return of such festivals in Jordan in the near future, hopefully sooner than later. 

Where in the world have you visited, was it for experiencing dance music, any locations that impressed you?

Growing up I traveled a lot with my family, mainly to European destinations, other than around the Middle East. I remember being exposed to electronic dance music at an early age, I’d go into music stores whenever we’d walk past one, put on the headsets and listen to the latest mixtapes. That’s when I discovered the connection I had with music was all about feeling –  the ones that stuck with me the most were the ones that made me feel the most while listening. As I grew older, I started traveling to destinations for the music they had to offer. I visited Beirut (Lebanon) frequently, it was the one place in the region that truly provided me with the opportunity back then, to experience a regional underground electronic music scene, one that is free, progressive, and alive. And honestly, the people of Beirut know how to party, how to dance all night effortlessly until the sun rises, how to just be, how to live. Recently, Egypt has become the other regional destination I would say that has not only welcomed me as a DJ, but also given me the opportunity to experience dance music as a listener amongst a community of energetically soul driven dance music fans. 

As for Europe, in the past few years, I planned my trips around festival destinations. The first big festival I attended was Lollapalooza in Berlin back in 2016. It wasn’t an electronic music festival per say, but it was absolutely beautiful in every way – watching Radio Head was something else. Generally, experiencing music in Berlin is an experience like no other, the people, the city, the energy, everyone’s so free, which reminded me of Beirut, my favorite city in the world. In 2017 I went to NOS ALive in Portugal, and I got to watch great acts like The XX and Jamie XX blew me away with his sick beats. The first proper techno oriented festival I attended was Connect in 2018 in Düsseldorf. That’s where I watched Nina Kraviz, Solomun, Maceo Plex, Amelie Lens, Joris Voorn, and Adam Beyer … mind blowing it was. The last big festival I attended before the pandemic was Mad Cool festival in Madrid, which wasn’t necessarily electronic music focused, but provided me with the best of all music worlds – I’d watch Tash Sultana on one stage, then Helena Hauf on another. I found myself hanging out around the electronic tent venue the most, where I also got to watch Eric Prydz and Charlotte De Witte. On that same trip, I took a train to Barcelona to attend the Off Sonár events taking place – that’s where I discovered Monolink for the first time. Barcelona generally stole my heart, it also reminded me of Beirut – there’s this energy that cities and countries by the sea have, that’s somewhat common regardless of how far apart they are in the world. Lastly, one of my most memorable experiences was in Kraków, Poland. I was invited to attend a Boiler Room event there as part of the Ballantine’s True Music Program (Jordan). That’s when Fjaak stole my heart – what a duo, what a sound! I actually got the chance to personally meet them backstage before the show, they were humble and real. 

Who are our main inspirations in the world of dance music?

Nina Kraviz, Helen Hauf, Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, Charlotte De Witte, Nicole Moudaber, Fjaak, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, DeadMau5. 

We are very happy to host a premiere from your latest EP NXT CHPTR, tell us the production process behind the package?

EP Cover Artwork by: Raphaelle Macaron 

I approached the New EP “NXT CHPTR – AYN Feat. Yasmine D.” knowing that I wanted to release a Techno EP, yet without limiting myself to a specific sub-genre. I wanted this EP to be about soul, nostalgia, and progression, so I decided to give the music the freedom it needed to evolve without containing it.

I started off by creating simple beats using midi controllers and synthesizers to sketch out the structure and layout of the productions. As we flowed, Yasmine D. and I dove into finding the lyrics that best expressed the messages we wanted to convey throughout the EP, in the simplest way possible, while finding the right balance between “darkness” and “light”. Writing the lyrics and transcribing them into vocal melodies was a simultaneous process. Once melodies were finalized, we started recording the vocals – giving Yasmine the freedom to vocally deliver raw spacy and enchanting vocals. 

I followed a multi-layered approach while developing the tracks’ final mixes, incorporating progressively liberating musical elements, coming together to transport audiences to higher frequencies of sound. The process was a melting pot of deep heavy techno beats, synths, melodic loops and vocal escapes – to map out the journey to the NXT CHPTR, a mixed synergy of freedom, love and light. 

What challenges do you face when looking to break into the electronic music circuit?

As an Arab Electronic DJ/Producer, the challenges we all face, whether male or female, lie in the lack of regional opportunities (bookings and overall), and the lack of funding knowing that mainstream music is still dominantly prioritized by labels, media platforms and entertainment hubs. I also believe we all suffer from the lack of  infrastructure needed both digitally and on-ground, to easily connect us with one another – which is essential for the growth of the scene and a sustainable community.   

The regional scene is definitely growing though, with more and more opportunities on the rise, yet compared to the many more opportunities available to artists in other regions such as Europe for example, we still have a long way to go. 

Honestly, the way I see it at the end of the day – if you commit yourself to evolving and delivering the art you long to express at the highest standards, and truly believe in what you’re doing, you’re perfectly capable of overcoming any obstacle that might challenge your way. By focusing on personal growth, you eventually get the chance to export your art beyond the confined space you’re within, and such challenges become opportunities that encourage you to evolve and work harder. I must admit though, having the support of your close circle of family, friends, and your local community of music lovers, plays a key role in pushing you as an Artist when times get rough. I am blessed to have such a circle that encourages me to keep going at it no matter what happens.

Tell us a release that will always stay with you and why?

All of my releases will always have a special place in my heart, as each one of them came as a major learning curve for me. I pour my heart in every release, and what comes from the heart lasts forever. 

You work with vocalists quite often – Yasmine D features with some incredible vocals on your latest release, tell us your relationship with her.

Yasmine D. has been my best friend since we were 14 years old. Today she is also my manager (as AYN) and the featured artist on my latest releases “I Contact” and on all 4 tracks of the New EP “NXT CHPTR – AYN Feat. Yasmine D.”. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been encouraging Yasmine to sing, to share her angelic, raw, powerful voice with the world. I watched Yasmine manage and guide rising artists over the years, while putting her talent on hold, and I always wondered why.

Today I’m proud that Yasmine D. is the first talented artist and singer I have collaborated with, and I look forward to the many more collaborations we’re working on together. Being in harmony when it comes to our approach to music, rhythms, openness of melody, and freedom of expression through music, our combination was bound to bring light to the darkest of Techno beats, creating an Arab infused, soulful, progressive, nostalgic and melodic approach to Techno music collaborations. 

Photo taken by: Ayla Hibri

What future projects can you tell us about?

There’s a lot planned for AYN, including tours, very special features and upcoming sets featuring the EP, leading up to a new single release with Yasmine D., with plans to release at the end of this year (stay tuned). Hopefully by 2022, a live act “AYN Feat. Yasmine D.” will start to unfold. Stay tuned for a lot more to come. 

When it comes to the New EP, we’re releasing four music videos (visualizers) in October for each track of the EP – once a week starting October 8. Inspired by our EP Artwork illustrated by the brilliant artist Raphaelle Macaron, the team at Banana Monkey did an impeccable job at transcribing the artwork into visualizers that will take audiences on a journey of mind-stimulating, beat dropping, soul opening animated loops. 

In parallel, I haven’t disclosed this yet, but Yasmine and I have been working behind the scenes on E.T.M. – Escape Through Music – a musical platform that encourages diversity, unity, and freedom through musical experiences, both physical and digital. We’ve soft-launched with a Live DJ Set filmed by the sea in Lebanon “Escape Through Music with AYN”. Stay tuned for more to come from E.T.M. and keep an eye out for upcoming pop-up events.  

The future will definitely be all about more music, more live shows, and maybe even a merchandise line? A lot could happen – let’s see where next year will take us