Salem Rashid prefers to produce music for his dark and cerebral record label 'in the shadows.' Iain Akeman tracks down the elusive sound artist to talk about his latest creative projects
“I release music that I believe is the sound of ‘now’,” says Salem Rashid, the mysterious founder of Bedouin Records. “It’s a raw and distorted sound that represents today’s lifestyle.”
It has taken weeks to pin Rashid down. Now, however, he’s talking. No mean feat considering he does little or no promotion for his label and has rarely, if ever, been interviewed.
And yet his Dubai-based label Bedouin Records has established itself within the field of experimental music, releasing work by the likes of Ekman, Dez Williams and Ryo Murakami. He has also begun the distribution of Bastakiya Tapes, an affiliated label dedicated to ‘ambient excursions and soulful electronics’. Not bad for a man who hides in the shadows.
Further collaborations are also under way, while a tour is set to kick off this autumn, taking the label into venues, art spaces and fashion shows across Europe and Asia. In total, four full-length albums are slated for release in the upcoming months alongside a dozen singles, all of which will be available in vinyl, cassette and digital formats.
“For the biggest part of my career I have been working in the shadows. I’m comfortable there,” says Rashid, who was raised in Athens and now lives in Dubai. “My energy has been focused solely on the records, as I knew where the label should go ever since its conception.
“The intent is to release eclectic music unconditionally of the geographical location or background of each artist and to create a connection to their own unique disparate sound or art.”
Bedouin Records launched two years ago with Allison Chanic’s Painlessly in Love, a 12in release that included a much-lauded remix by Dublin-based electronic music producers Lakker. It is this remix that Rashid cites as a highlight of the label’s output so far, with its melodic bliss echoing Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92.
For the biggest part of my career I have been working in the shadows. I’m comfortable there
“If I had to categorise it, Bedouin Records’ music touches on techno, ambient, modern composition, drone and more, while maintaining an outer-national edge. It is consistently dark and cerebral in its approach, sometimes scarily so, but crucially this is counter balanced by a palpable love for sound.
“I started off working with people who I consider to be vital to the label to this very day,” says Rashid. “When it comes down to it, it’s a labour of love, so taking it off the ground was not easy financially. [But] it’s been received quite well internationally, specifically in Europe, North America and Japan where we have close ties, and people are really drawn to the aesthetics and are always anticipating what’s coming next, so that’s a good thing.”
The covers and the artwork that accompany the releases appear to be as important as the music itself, which is not surprising given Rashid’s background. He has collaborated on art, music and fashion projects, with his own fashion line expected to see the light of day some time next year.
“As a conceptual artist I believe that further to the vision that comes from within, everything we create is a reflection of our environment,” says Rashid, who recently partnered with The Flip Side (a new space in Alserkal Avenue) to manage the venue’s record store and art space.
“I put out records that are inspiring to me. The artwork and design have as much importance as the records. Dynamic visuals can create memories and different experiences depending on the place, time or state of mind of a person. I want each project to make you feel something, as that’s one of the main purposes of art.”