Escaping the corporate environment to unleash the creativity within – Introducing Yusif Aman
At Authenticité, our primary goal is to champion talent. We take the cultural landscape in the KSA, put it under the microscope and look to find the people who are on the cusp of leaving a legacy. All Authenticité Talent stems from cultural innovation.
DJ Zerone is the epitome of multifacetedness. Under his real name, Yusif Aman is an artist and entrepreneur with over two decades in the KSA creative landscape. His work takes him to the turntables in the evening and the board of directors by day. Currently, the Managing Director of @dreamtheory.sa, Aman is also the owner of 7Zenith, a business consultancy, and EntertainmenTen, a luxury entertainment company founded in Saudi Arabia alongside his wife DJ Viva. But how does he do it all? We find out below as the musician opens up about working in the corporate landscape while expanding the creative scope of KSA’s music industry.
What is the most satisfying aspect of being a DJ for you?
It’s as simple as playing music that I love for my audience. It’s a deep connection. The first DJ crew I was in was called Puppet Master Crew because we felt like puppet masters, and our music was the strings that were connected to our audience. It’s a connection you experience with your audience. You know, being able not to just play music but connect with emotions and control a vibe.
How do you want to enrich the music scene in the KSA?
I just want to keep pioneering the scene, having played here for over twenty years. Today it’s not just about trying to push things forward for me, but also for the young generation, and ensuring we have a healthy industry–one where more and more people have the opportunity to focus as full-time artists.
“Your time equals money. Like any profession, you need to treat it as a business, even though we creatives are sentimental and obsessive at times.’’
You’re a DJ by evening and have a corporate job by day. How do you balance the two?
It’s second nature, I’ve been doing this for as long as I’ve had a job. I’ve always felt like it’s an escape rather than a 2nd job. It keeps me regressed and creative and gives me a front-row seat to a vastly different industry which I love.
What can we do as a society to support aspiring musicians in their pursuit so they do not have to resort to the corporate landscape?
Support comes in all shapes and forms. Today, it’s easier than ever to support an artist; besides the obvious is showing up to gigs and events. Something as simple as a view, like, and share go a long way. I’ve always explained to other artists that they have to play the long game. Getting their money right equals freedom, so working to build up as an artist is the right way to go as this industry continues to develop. However, the end goal is to be able to make as much or more than what you would at a day job. We need more gigs, more sponsorships from corporations and organizers, and NOT the ones that pay in publicity because we can’t pay rent with publicity or buy new equipment.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a creative thus far?
Your time equals money. Like any profession, you need to treat it as a business, even though we creatives are sentimental and obsessive at times. It’s also something I’ve been very vocal about, especially with newcomers to the scene. We offer value to any event. Just because we love what we do, doesn’t mean it should be taken advantage of.
Your day job is still creative, as you’re working as a Managing Director and heading an entertainment company alongside your wife, DJ Viva. How do you think DJing and management can be similar? Can you have specific patterns and structures for both?
Anyone that knows me knows I’m obsessed with patterns and structure. As with anything in life, there is a pattern in chaos if you look hard enough. Working as well as being able to DJ with my wife really is the dream life for me because life is so chaotic. It’s great having your partner right there next to you. It keeps us grounded and away from living a double life.
We get to experience everything together. As for DJing and Management, being a good DJ is a lot like project management; there is a start, a middle and an end. Be it a song or a live gig. Our job is to tell a story and engage and entertain people. A good DJ should plan for this; it involves research, planning, timing, technical know-how, and some good charisma.
It’s a discipline at the end of the day; some people might claim they improvise their sets. This is also possible in business during a sales pitch or presentation, but you’re relying on your gut feeling and experience to guide you and all the knowledge you’ve learned in the past. Not everyone can do this approach, but you can own it if you’re good at it. So, there are a lot of similarities and shared skill sets that complement each other.
“Nothing wrong with chasing your dream; just don’t lose yourself in the process.”
How do you see yourself evolving as a musician?
I would love to produce more music and release albums; this is the main factor needed to be at the top of your game as a DJ.
What is style to you?
Musically it’s heavy bass with a good melody. In fashion, it’s pop street with a dash of goth and hype beast.
Less is more or more is more?
This is an age-old question with no correct answer. I’m always simplistic in my approach. However, I’m also at home in chaos and I embrace it, so I would say both.
What is authenticity for you?
Just being true to yourself and being real with others. I see so many people in this industry trying to be something they’re not, and follow the whole “fake it till you make it” mentality. You could argue it’s artistic growth, but I feel you should never forget who you are/were, and where you came from. These are truths that cannot be changed no matter how hard you try. Nothing wrong with chasing your dream; just don’t lose yourself in the process.