Even though he’s released on imprints like Metalheadz, Soul:R, and SGN:LTD nothing can quite prepare you for the straight-up grooves the Berlin-based Amaning unleashes on his debut LP Time Warp. This is no small feat in a year that has seen album after album knocking our socks off so we thought we’d not only check in with Amaning for a glimpse into the inspirations and influences behind the project but convince him to hit us with a free tune as a way of showcasing his next level sound.
Talk about growing up, the kind of music your parents listened to and music that reminds you of your youth.
I was born in Hanover, Germany but moved to Ghana within my first year and lived there until I was about five. Ghana was going through some major political strife at the time and so it eventually became unsafe for us to stay. We returned to Germany for about two years before finally moving to Walthamstow, London in 1983. We moved around a lot in those days but I mostly grew up in the south west of London: Hounslow, Twickenham, Kingston.
My parents were well into music and my dad actually DJed as a hobby. When he was studying in Germany in his mid-twenties, he organised and DJed at student parties, so I grew up listening to highlife music from Ghana, funk, soul, r&b, jazz, etc. My parents definitely had a nice record collection and in my early teens I did as well and was heavily into Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, etc., before getting into listening to reggae, rap and hip hop.
At what point does electronic music and dnb in particular enter the picture? What was/is it about the genre that continues to move you?
I guess it was a natural progression to come to jungle/dnb as in my mid-teens I listened to tracks like “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown, “Rockin’ Over the Beat” by Technotronic, and “Groove is in the Heart” by Dee-Lite; tracks with electronic drum sounds and even sometimes breakbeats in them. When I was around sixteen or seventeen I started picking up Don, Rude, Flex FM and some other pirate radio stations. By then I was hooked on breakbeat music as it was just so alive and moved me.
You were feeling that jump-up vibe in the early days right? At what point do you transition into the more musical side of things that you’ve since become known for?
I used to be well into the early jump-up sound, yes. That was what I grew up with, went out to and when I started DJing, the kind of records I would mostly buy. I remember after the prime time shows, early morning shows on Don, etc., tunes like “The Helicopter Tune” would be played. I found these tunes intriguing as they were not so in your face, a bit more musical, and so I not only took a liking to that sound and also started to collect more and more records on this tip.
At what point do things start to happen for you as a producer? Your releases on imprints like Formation, Soul:r and Metalheadz didn’t happen overnight did they?
Around 2001, I was working with Ajit, Jeff and Ruxspin who shortly after I came to Germany, formed Universal Project. I made friends with Keaton and Loxy around then as well and so keeping in contact with them a couple of years later, Loxy heard some of my tracks and sent them to Clayton at Renegade who instantly signed a 12-inch. Loxy & I were working on some collabs soon after that and then Goldie picked a track for the ‘Winter in America’ EP on Metalheadz. That was one of the highlights of my discography so far…
Talk about “Time Warp” – take us back to when the LP was just an idea floating around in your head and how it progressed from there.
For the past five or six years I’ve had the idea of releasing an LP to show where I am coming from and to show my diversity but I always felt I wasn’t ready. After I took a short two year break from things, I decided it was time to come back and finally release an LP, so beginning in 2013, after my hiatus, I started on the project. I had some finished tracks from years ago still unsigned and a lot of unfinished material that I thought had potential floating on my hard drive. A year later most tracks were completed and I was working on the final mixdowns.
At what point does ‘Time Warp’ emerge as a working title for the LP?
“Time Warp” was a track I wrote with a friend in Berlin around 2010. For me it’s a timeless track; I did give it a re-vamp, but the vibe stayed, I just brought it up to date. Marco [label head of Fokuz Recordings] loved this track and picked the name for the LP; he and I thought it fit well with the concept of the LP showing a time-lapse of my dnb history. The tune itself captures the overall feeling of the album, I think. I like to take people on a journey with my music and want to capture my listeners with a feeling and a vibe.
Now that the album is complete where do you go from here?
I have a couple of tracks in the pipeline for IM:LTD, V Recordings and I am currently working on a new project with a fellow German producer, I can’t say much at present, but more will be revealed soon!