Having just launched his single Thirsty 4 u, we thought it was the perfect time to catch-up with Ash Hamman. He’s been in the Dubai spotlight since 2003 and maintained his position through hard work and his passion for music . A singer, dancer, writer, rapper and President of Immaqul’8 Entertainment, there isn’t much he can’t do. Zizzle set out to get the inside scoop on the Dubai Music Scene and finally put to bed the rumours of Ash’s mysterious deal with Akon. We candidly asked how this bad boy plans to get his raunchy new video to appeal to the sensitive Middle Eastern market and we wanted to bring you closer to the man behind the music.
I’ve always known Ash to have this crazy energy, even while sitting at his desk he was dancing on his seat and as he played me a few of his songs he animatedly mimed them while he danced like nobody was watching. Energy and passion for what you do are fundamental to being a success and Ash is the perfect example…
You pretty much handle every aspect of your career, was having a label something you always wanted or did you have to adapt to the Dubai music scene in terms of having to do it all yourself?
Having a label wasn’t in the picture at first, because I was signed to a label in the UK which I don’t want to name because they weren’t the best so I had to learn stuff myself. Luckily for me I signed a contract before I was of age, I was 15 so I was able to get out of the contract and I started Immaqul’8 Entertainment and ever since then I tried to understand what the industry was about and the business behind the music so I had to do things myself.
So you sing, rap, dance, produce, we want to hear what you can’t do, what are you bad at?
(laughing) So you think you’re good at everything?
(laughs) No I wouldn’t say that I just can’t think of something off the top of my head, I try to be good at everything I do, I try to put in 100% and more into everything.
So back in London you were quite successful musically, how is the scene here different, for example would you say there are as many opportunities to perform?
At first when I got here I had a lot of opportunities, I think I was the only one doing a lot of shows here. I opened for Kanye, Damien Marley, Akon, I was opening up for everyone that came through but at the end of the day Dubai is really small so if you keep doing the same thing and don’t push yourself, you’ll end up getting older and time is of the essence and age doesn’t wait for anyone. I wanted to do more than just opening for artists and to elevate to the next level so I could open up for bigger artists internationally. I decided I need to chill on that and so now I have artists on my label who do the shows I used to do, while I’m trying to work on something bigger which they will also get to do.
If you could change something about Dubai’s music scene, what would you change?
I’d open the minds of people because things would be so much bigger and better if they supported each other but they don’t, there is always a clan. Dubai’s the smallest place in the world and still there is East Coast and West Coast. You have Sharjah having beef with Deira having beef with Marina. DJ’s have their clan, they don’t want to work with other DJ’s they tell their people not to do anything with this or that DJ. Another thing about Dubai is people hear things and they don’t want to find out from the source if it’s true so it just keeps going on. Nobody has the guts to come and ask you if it’s true, they just pass the story on, people need to be more mature and find out what it is before they pass on the wrong info.
Speaking of clearing up rumours, we heard it through the grapevine that you are signing to Akon’s label, can you clear that one up?
Where did you hear that from?
(laughing)Don’t change the subject Ash
I’m not signing to nobody! Akon is a cool friend, he’s a very positive person and down to earth and approachable. We had a few meetings so he saw what I was doing and he offered to produce me some tracks and wanted to do something together. He liked the quality of our videos and wanted us to make a video for him. He saw what I had and I respect his position so we are going to do stuff together and that’s it.
You’ve just released Thirsty 4 U, tell us about the process from start to finish of releasing your single because people just see a 3-4 minute video, they don’t know the time frame or amount of work that goes into creating something like that.
The production is all in-house so the video production is all done by Immaqul’8 and we have partners that we are working with. Thirsty 4 U is an old track, it’s about four years old and we just wanted to get something out there while I work on the rest of my stuff. We are working on developing our stuff so we want to make all the mistakes in-house so when we work with other people out there its perfect because the level that we are working on is quite high and we want it to look as good as. It was a long process, we shot at my spa, the office then messed with colours and editing and it went good at the end of the day! I hope people like it. Whatever else we are doing for artists we try to do it better than that, we are testing stuff out, so even though the process was long it was worth it.
I watched your video clip…and I have to say Ash, it’s pretty raunchy!
I don’t get why people are saying that? You should see the uncut version.
What?! You mean I saw the “clean” Middle East version?
Ohhhhhh no! The Middle East version is like a gospel video, it’s so clean you think we did it in church. For over here they said we will need a cleaner version for MTV Middle East and North Africa.
Where can we see you performing your new single?
I’ve got a couple of shows in Africa, mostly Nigeria and we are also working on other tracks which will be way faster and more clubby.
Are you working on an album?
Yes that’s part of what’s next for me, we are working on more music videos and movies too. We all have a story to tell and my IMQ team all came from different places, I’m Nigerian, the creative director is Indian, the animator is Pakistani, the person who handles the business is Polish so we are all from different worlds. So we are working on a short film to talk about how we came together.
Your quite the inspiration having done so much at such a young age and living your dreams, Zizzle is a feel good blog, what’s your positive message?
We all have a choice in life to play now and pay later or to pay now and play later, I choose to pay now so I can play later and that’s it.
If you could relive one moment of your life, what would it be (the clean version please)?
Ah there’s so many moments I wish I could go back to and just live in that moment. It’s crazy but I wish I had done some things better and just stuck to it.
Which moment would you never want to relive again?
I had a show once and the CD stopped playing and the mic went off, I had a choice to stay or walk off and I chose to stay for the entire 8 minutes, screaming like a rat, I don’t think I’d ever do that again I hope that never happens to anybody.
What is your Phobia?
Heights, I’ll go skydiving but I have this strange phobia of certain kinds of heights. Everything else I’m cool with because I was in the army for three years so I can pretty much deal with anything.
What’s the worst lie you told your parents?
I told them a lot of lies I can’t remember, they will probably read this so I’m just going to say a lot of lies.
What do your friends make fun of you for?
A lot of them make fun of my gap, and a lot of them are used to it already. They also make fun of the way I walk
How would you spend your last 24 hours
I’d make sure I was with all the people I love and just live it up
Your best impression of someone famous?
Jay-Z (tries to do impression…fails) Kevin Hart umm lets come back to it.
We found out what you’re bad at… Impressions! Any last words for me?
I wish things get better for everybody, I wish one day we can all be on stage doing our thing and I see you on stage doing your thang and people support each other instead of using people like they always do in the industry.
Zizzle got a sneaky listen to some amazing tracks on Ash’s forthcoming album, make sure you keep tabs on this boy because he’s about to blow! You can follow him on Instagram @Ashhamman8 and on Twitter @Ashhamman, click here to watch him on YouTube