20 Questions: Deena Abdelwahed
Since the release of her debut EP Klabb in 2017, Deena Abdelwahed has become a firm favourite in clubs and festival stages the world over.
Her DJ sets and original productions fold together traditional Arabic music and speaker-bursting stabs of bass, reimagining the histories of techno and hardcore rave in the process. With a new track due on Houndstooth’s forthcoming Alterity compilation, we caught up with Abdelwahed for this month’s 20 Questions to chat yoga in Berghain, her best advice for aspiring DJs and meeting friends off the internet.
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
Shouting at adults to turn the air conditioning on or off.
Who do you look up to the most?
Athletes. I am also jealous of them.
What’s the weirdest DM you’ve ever received?
Numerous people message me asking for guest list, but there was one person who sent me a super weird story to get my empathy. He wanted to surprise his friend who was terminally ill and said he would offer them a ticket but it’s too expensive because he’s a student. I found out later that it was a chain message also sent to the other artists playing the same event.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be easy, slow down, be nice until you can’t.
What makes you feel nostalgic?
Air conditioning and moquette.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Finding somewhere to smoke in secret when my parents are around.
What’s the weirdest party you’ve ever been to?
I’ve been to a lot of weird parties.
What’s the biggest realisation you’ve had in the past year?
That my 30s should be very healthy if I want to keep up with my job.
Proudest moment of your life?
Visiting cities in Tunisia via train by myself. I’d just moved from Doha to Tunisia, I was 19 years old and I was spending my little money to go visit people I met on the internet. I wouldn’t do that at all now!
What’s your worst habit?
Smoking and procrastinating.
What’s your biggest fear?
Out of nowhere, a really dark idea emerges from my imagination – that my loved ones are being harmed. So scary and exhausting.
Best piece of advice you’d give a budding DJ?
Again – be easy, slow down, be nice until you can’t.
Your favourite food dish of all time?
Grilled sea bream with lemon and parsley.
Who’s inspiring you right now?
Electronic and bass music producers and DJs from Cairo.
Favourite city in the world?
Bristol! I am so dazzled every time I hear music from someone who’s from Bristol or releasing music on a Bristol-based label. Incredible city and powerful sounds.
Weirdest thing you’ve seen happen in the club?
Someone was doing yoga in Berghain. It wasn’t weird in a bad way, I would have liked to join them, but I was full of alcohol and would vomit.
What would you want written on your tombstone?
In Tunisian: Yé bou guelb! The closest translation is ‘Oh boy, this life was hard but we made it!’
What’s your favourite lyric?
“I pick my friends like I pick my fruit” in Apple Tree by Erykah Badu. That image hit me when I was feeling lonely in my high school years. It made me feel OK that I didn’t have a whole crew of friends.
What piece of advice would you give young Deena?
God does not exist.
What instantly cheers you up?
Deena Abdelwahed appears on Alterity, released via Houndstooth on 28 August