The dancefloors of Trance are typically seen as a break from the slightly chaotic world we live in today, but for producer, DJ and label head OMAIR(known by friends and family as Omair Mirza) they can use a few doses of conscious thought. The Dallas based artist knows the decks like the back of his hand, having played sets for two decades now. He demonstrated the mastery of his craft at EDC Las Vegas, opening their QuantamVALLEY stage on Sunday. “I think you need to start off with for lack of a better term ‘darker’ melodies,” he says. With a blend of different tracks that are ethereal in nature but at a more groovy rhythm than their “uplifting” counterparts nearer to the end of the night, his first hour set the stage up in the best way possible.
Track selection differs for every DJ, and OMAIR’s decisions on what to take from the almost infinite library of available music is quite distinct. “I’m someone who loves great melody work, and I like tracks that I can fit in my set in various places,” he says. “Not just end of the night bangers or anything thats mellow or slow. I like tracks that are multi-use, so to speak.“ Some of his biggest influences are Above & Beyond and Coldplay, who’s musical influence shows in the plethora of tracks he supports. His original productions include “The Kingmaker,” a fierce instrumental with Josh Bailey and “Beautiful Mystery,” a serene number that features the vocals of Avari. Support on labels like Coldharbour and consistent plays via radio and massive trance celebrations like Afterhours.fm’s End of Year Countdown are proof that Mirza knows his way around a DAW.
The American producer’s latest single doesn’t need too much explanation: “Fake News” is a Progressive Trance track that contains recordings from The United States president talking rather loudly about one of his most focused topics while in office…and before entering office…and likely far before that. While it’s clear what this brings to the listener’s attention, it isn’t a blatant protest song. The full mix takes a journey akin to any well polished Dance track while subtly relaying a reminder to stay alert about what people in positions of power are attempting to tell the public. One may assume the producer may have had to contact the Trump administration to get clearance for the sample, right? “Unfortunately, no,” he says. “It would have been an interesting conversation.”
Mirza wants to change the dialogue that Electronic producers should leave politics and current events off the dancefloor. He sees artists in other musical ecosystems articulating current issues into their work to powerful effect. To him, Hip-Hop accomplishes this feat frequently, “especially with ‘This is America,’” he says. “That was such a powerful track with a video that digs into what our culture is right now. I think in the Electronic scene it’s not done enough. The artists who do have a voice should speak their mind.” He’s not wrong; while the Dance Music atmosphere encourages human behavior that helps us believe in people all over again, there aren’t too many big artists who artfully talk about issues that affect us more than we realize.
Mirza is resolved to inspire others to express their thoughts on what they think is right. He suggests an easy first step: “Just educate yourself. I don’t think anyone should just follow what someone else is saying,” he says. Over the last couple of years, he’s been building up knowledge to make sure the messages he sends are smart ones. ”I’ve definitely done my homework; literally, when I’m in the studio 16 hours a day the news is on in the background. It doesn’t have to be what I’m saying. Make your decisions and be educated.”
This can be nerve wracking for anyone, especially artists who want to get their point across. Mirza elaborates on a few good practices:
I try to avoid [Social Media] as much as I possibly can. Social media these days is so bombarded with negative, hateful, close minded “word vomit” as I like to call it. And what makes it worse, is that our so called commander in chief encourages behavior like this as he sets his own example from the very top. Never before in history has the leader of the free world been so hateful, condescending and degrading towards not just individuals, but groups of people, such as women, muslims, hispanics, athletes etc. That list could go on and on. When the most powerful man in the world is setting an example that dialog and mentality of this nature is ok, it causes troves of people to act the same way and follow suit.
For anyone who gets turned off by the more negative aspects of the news, do bare in mind that majority of the news is biased. For example what you hear on CNN, will most definitely be different than what you hear on Fox News. That being said, if staying up on current affairs, and the culture and society which we live in today is important to you, I suggest being open minded. Listen, read, watch, discuss, various outlets. Through doing that, could you be fair in creating your own educated opinion.
Be it hours of digesting media, reading any articles related to issues you care about, or making a habit of watching poignant comedians, it’s worth the toil to talk about what you find important in your work. An artist who makes music that causes you to think for a few minutes during a set is certainly better than someone behind the decks who orders your hands in the air for an hour straight.
The future of Mirza’s music is bright: he plans to launch a sub-label of OHM music down the line and is already working on releasing sevral new releases from the label. He’s also working on a brand new EP himself. You can catch all of his music on his Spotify now, or Beatport if you want to work a track or three of his into your own set.