Toronto-based and Karachi born, Measure Divide is the solo project of electronic music DJ and producer, Fahad Ahmad who has been pushing the boundaries of techno for well over a decade under a slew of pseudonyms. Having developed and honed his innovative techniques in the studio, he began producing tracks within the realms of techno, industrial and post-punk and the rest, they say, is history. Back in 2013, the Torontonian founded his very own events brand under the name of Format, seeking to showcase the best forward-thinking international artists in the scene and boasted bookings of Jeff Mills, Function, DVS1, Planetary Assault Systems, Paula Temple and Dax J to name a few.
In terms of productions, Fahad has unleashed some formidable productions including his live post-punk industrial project MDD back in 2017 which has since released via AnD’s Inner Surface Music, Ansome’s South London Analogue Material, HANDS, Infidel Bodies and more. After a five year hiatus, we now see the return of Measure Divide with a brand new release on Cleric’s very own Clergy imprint entitled “Green Parallel”. Featuring four immaculate techno cuts, we caught up with Fahad about his latest release.
First of all how are you? And what have you been getting up to recently?
I’ve been good! Thanks for asking. Been busy with working on lots of music lately. Trying to keep myself occupied as much as possible since there isn’t much else to do right now during this time..
How have you found the last year and lockdown in general? Of course you have a brand new release but how has the last year been in terms of motivation and creativity levels as a producer?
Lockdown has been an adaptation exercise in all aspects of life. It’s not always super inspiring being stuck at home, but I’m not complaining about having the weekends back to be more productive, even if the results are a colourful 16-bar loop that wouldn’t ever see the light of day.
In terms of motivation, I try to stay positive and although most of my output is geared towards the floor. I’ve had studio sessions where I drift off into some really abstract places. This has allowed me to continue exploring more and not be stuck in any particular flavour of sound.
Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey including your beginnings with Format nearly a decade ago now!
That’s a loaded question. I started making music around when I was 17 by myself on a cracked version of Reason. From there I had a couple of projects with friends, some of which were successful. There were a slew of them. Around summer-2003 I moved to Toronto from Karachi (Pakistan) where I was born and grew up. The sound of Toronto at the time was more on the easy listening spectrum, digestible, catered to the masses. There were only a handful of decent techno events a year.
After DJing a fair bit in Toronto at some really great venues, the volume and demand for techno artists was still far and few. Most of my gigs at that time were outside of Canada. As a result. I decided to start my own series of events called Format in 2013 which launched with Shifted. Unfortunately, that show got shut down at around 3am by the police due to some issue with the security and one of the patrons who was acting inappropriately and got his ass handed to him, so I lost a shit ton of money that night. Worst part was this particular person was only allowed in the event in the first place as a friend of the venue’s owner and caused the most damage to the show. However, I kept rolling through the bookings, If I recall the second one was Rrose, followed by Truncate, Function, DVS1, Perc, Drumcell and so on..
Eventually other promoters caught interest and started pushing similar sounds and artists for their events, which as a whole helped the cause for the city of Toronto. Fast forward a few years, techno became more popular globally again which of course helped in starting to breakeven on the shows.
Some of the best events we were throwing were in the last few years where we had a warehouse (the now defunct, 500 Keele St) which we could curate how we wanted depending on the nature of the event. This led to some wicked acts coming through and in my opinion was a proponent to shift the culture of Toronto back to raw spaces; which looking back I’ll always be proud of.
Our last major show pre-lockdown was our 6 year anniversary event with Blawan and it was beyond anything I could imagine in terms of the atmosphere. The vibe was on point and the warehouse was rammed from start to end. Hopefully we are all able to experience that again soon.
Based over in Toronto, what’s the techno scene like over there and how would you describe it to someone who’s never been?
In my opinion, the techno scene is still in its infancy, which is an exciting phase. Yes, we had a whole lot of momentum until covid hit. However, to say it’s established here like other cities would be inaccurate.
I had a conversation several years ago with one of our regular bookings in a cab ride to the venue, and they pointed out that whilst we are doing all the right things, my particular generation of artists snd promoters would not be the ones that witness the thorough establishment of this particular sound, but rather the future generations who would benefit most from our vision.
I always think back to this conversation when we have momentum building with our shows and I certainly hope all the hard work and the absolute insane amount of investment that vanished overnight helps the next generation of DIY promoters in some shape or form.
Your new record ”Green Parallel” is a fantastic listen, coming as your first release in five years, why have you chosen to release new music now and do you think time away from the studio has enhanced your motivation to produce?
Thank you, glad you like it! It came together rather naturally, these tracks were recorded in winter 2019. Now, we have shows coming back in certain states in the US and I’ve been hearing of events popping up in the UK and some parts of EU again, which is a healthy sign. So it all worked out for the best from a timing perspective.
I try not to take any time away from making music, unless I’m really not feeling like recording something. I rather hit a wall while working on a new track as compared to not producing at all. That in itself is a challenge that keeps me motivated. For me on a personal level, it’s second nature to jam a few ideas and go from there, often I revisit these recordings and edit them down to flesh out full tracks which lead to many other interesting ideas.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the EP and how you would describe it?
The inspiration was to keep it simple, not overload the project with a gazillion channels. Stick to the main elements. In terms of description it’s a record for those late night dance floors that we all love. Inspiration at the time was from the warehouse jams we were hosting, keeping it to the point and functional.
What was the creative and production process behind the record?
The creative aspects for all my music, including this record mostly always starts in the low end, once I find myself happy with that, I then move on to generating some interesting sounds, toying around with synths and patches until it starts to make sense. I feel overworking tracks takes away from the idea, there is something charming about imperfect music to hear the human element. Not every fade, filter cut, FX and synth knob twiddling needs to be picture perfect.
Your new record contains four immaculate rockets but if you had to pick a favourite, which one would it be and why? (We can’t choose one!)
Thank you! If I had to pick one I would probably say ‘Green’. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out in the end.
We have to talk about Clergy, how’s it been working with Cleric and what made you choose his label to release your long overdue material on?
It’s been wonderful to say the least. Jorden (Cleric) is one of the real gems in this circuit and always open to listen to new material from my end. We were actually connected to one another by way of Lina (SPFDJ). Really grateful to her for that introduction. As you can imagine, Jorden and I are in regular contact and are honest with one another on any creative ideas that come up, it’s refreshing to find someone supportive and as excited as yourself. I’ve always listened and played the records Clergy has put out so it felt like a natural fit to be working with the imprint. Really glad it worked out the way it did.
What’s in store for the rest of 2021? Anymore new releases we should keep an eye out for?!
Can’t say too much yet on a public forum. However, I can say that I have a large volume of unreleased material that I’ve been recording throughout this period so definitely keep an eye out for more music coming your way soon.
“Green Parallel EP” is out now on Clergy and is available to listen and buy here.
Tracklist: 1. Green 2. Parallel 3. Polaroid 4.Druem