IN THE COMPETITIVE WORLD of electronic music, Ikonika is on an upward trajectory. The UK-based electronic musician/producer—born Sara Abdel-Hamid—has had tremendous success since her start in 2008. Signed to several of the more visible electronic music labels, including Planet Mu and Hyperdub, Abdel-Hamid's innate musical sensibility has enabled her to blend genres to synthesize a unique sound that sells.
Ikonika's style has evolved quite a bit since back when it was classified as chiptune and dubstep. "After my first album, I don't think I was ready for the extra hype," she says, "and I was getting bored of that sound as well, but it just kept following me and stalking me. I thought, 'I'm not going to be making these tunes that are almost too easy to make. I want a challenge.'"
In search of a new sound, Abdel-Hamid "just started experimenting with different sounds and listening to more house and techno... and then suddenly, I was going back further, and remembered freestyle house and how happy that made me feel when I was younger. I was getting very influenced by older techniques and getting familiar with the sounds that we know from the '80s and early '90s."
She describes her synth-heavy compositions as "very organic. I try not to use too many samples. The melodic side always takes over." Rhythmic variation is very important too, she says. "Even on the dance floor, I notice when things get too repetitive. I just need change all the time."
Abdel-Hamid's early years had musical impact that's still in effect. "I had drum lessons as a child, and I never stopped playing them. I didn't have a drum kit at home, so I would use the coffee table and sofa arm and play along to MTV2. That was kind of my first experience with making music."
These many years later, it still strikes her that, in her line of work, people respond to the same thing. "Traveling and visiting different clubs throughout the world and feeling the same thing," Abdel-Hamid says, "no matter what club you are in, people go there purely for the music and to dance in the dark."