“My practice is very musical,” says Haroon Mirza. As anyone who’s familiar with his sublimely arresting audiovisual pieces will testify, the artist’s practise sees sound and light used as his primary tools to dynamic, highly original effect. His work has been at the forefront of using emerging technologies, but—crucially—never in a gimmicky way. Technology is his most fitting mode of expression. As the artist told us last year, “I use technology as a means of engaging with the unknowable, rather than being afraid of what you don’t know”.
As such, it’s little surprise that when Mirza DJ-ed Elephant’s tenth birthday party and the launch of our accompanying self-care themed magazine issue in October this year, his playlist was typically brazen in mixing the familiar with the unexpected: pop staples like Janet Jackson and Sean Paul sit alongside more obtuse artists like Aphex Twin and Martin Roth in one big, weird musical happy family.
“I was particularly intrigued by a record of whale sounds and Jean-Michel Jarre”
That wide-ranging approach is perhaps down to Mirza’s household growing up. “My dad has very eclectic taste,” he says. “I grew up with anything from Punjabi music, Qawwali [a form of Sufi Islamic devotional music] and Islamic poetry to eighties pop, synth music, jazz and field recordings. I was particularly intrigued by a record of whale sounds and Jean-Michel Jarre.”
Day-to-day listening in Mirza’s studio usually defaults to online radio station NTS, he tells us. “Charlie Bones’ breakfast show is always a good start,” says Mirza. “Sometimes we listen to podcasts, usually something recommended—recently I was put on to Talk Art with Russell Tovey and Robert Diament. Often we play new records I have either bought or been sent,” with a recent favourite cited as artist and techno producer Franziska Lantz.
“I grew up with anything from Punjabi music to eighties pop”
“Every now and again we might dip into the record collection and pull out old gems such as Neu! albums or classics like the Marvin Gaye Anthology,” Mirza adds. “This means we listen to anything but not everything. It’s good to have something on just to avoid silence, and every now and again I’ll hear something that I end up getting hold of or collaborating with the respective artists.”
For all those who weren’t at our party (and those who want to listen again), Mirza has shared his playlist from the night, which you can listen to below (with a couple of exceptions for tracks that sadly aren’t available on Spotify.) Kick off your heels and get dancing. And for those who want to see Mirza’s work—and you certainly should—his wildly brilliant exhibition Waves and Forms is on at Southampton’s John Hansard gallery until 11 January.
The track listing:
Kevin Little – Turn me On
Pharell feat. Jay-Z – Frontin
Lady Saw – Like mi Mate
Sean Paul – Like Glue
Prince – The Future
Janet Jackson – What have you done for me Lately
Quondo Quango – Love Tempo
Jean Carne – Was that All
Millie Vanillie – Green Velvet
Zebra Katz – Ima Read
Datarock – Computer Camp Love
Aphex Twin – Minipops 67 [120.2]
Haroon Mirza – For Runa (ed. Note, this isn’t on Spotify, so not on this playlist)
Tessela – Hackney Parrot
Nathan Fake – The Sky was Pink
Armando – Don’t take it
Factory Floor – Turn it up
Leftfield – Phat Planet
Sylvester – Do you wanna Funk
Space 2000 – Do u wanna funk (ed. Note, this isn’t on Spotify, so not on this playlist)
Factory Floor – Fall Back
Daniel Avery – Naïve Response
Hugo Massien – Alien Shapes
Martin Roth – An Analog Guy in a Digital World