Rising Duo HAKEEM Readies For a Sweaty Summer
Artwork by McKinley Faas/ Courtesy of HAKEEM
If you’ve ever had your car towed for a parking violation, you know the misery which ensues. The shock at being towed from an area you thought safe swiftly gives way to the frustration and anger of finding the impounded vehicle and forking over big bucks to rescue it. Practically nothing good comes from going through this exercise.
The lone exception to this rule may be HAKEEM. The electronic music duo returns to live action tomorrow night at Walter’s, with a full slate of like-minded musicians on hand to explore nearly every form the broad genre has to offer. MissingNo, Delogated, Third World TV, Les Lockheart, Pajimmy Jam Sam and Eroda are scheduled, along with a HAKEEMvsRockThaBoat set. SPPANK will provide visuals for the event.
Conceivably, these acts and the showgoers will have a good time and return to their neatly-parked, unmoved cars. But Adam Gloria, half of HAKEEM, told us when the group was first starting in 2013, they were busy chatting up and learning from one of the city’s most notable producers at the very time their vehicle was being hitched and hauled by the tow man.
“We went to go see FLCON FCKER at AvantGarden for the first time, through a suggestion of a friend," Gloria recalls. "We had a conversation with him after his set and a few days later sent him some music and he was pretty supportive. We actually got the car towed that day for parking next door.
“He ended up inviting us to an art show and concert at Winter Street Studios and we have been involved with that community ever since," he continues. "I would have to say those were the first people to really show an interest in what we were doing and those relationships have been pretty instrumental to what we have been able to do with this project.”
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Gloria’s bandmate, Matthew Astorga, is also his cousin.
“We were both working on other projects and then we just started working together while both starting to explore sample-based production,” Gloria shares. “We started performing initially at sporadic open mikes at Fitz. During that time we would go into Cactus Music looking for records to sample and eventually became friends with John Baldwin and he pointed us in the right direction and we had our first true show with Children of Pop and others in fall of 2013.”
Tomorrow’s show, dubbed Summer in the City, is the kickoff to what should be a busy summer for HAKEEM, Gloria says.
“We have two EPs dropping this summer, Vol 6. and HAKEEMvsDeejayRockThaBoat. After that we plan to start taking the time to put together our first full-length. We also have put in motion plans to bring in acts from out of town to play alongside some of the local talent that represents Houston's growing electronic music scene,” he said.
“Developing relationships with artists to work on projects beyond music is also something that is on our radar, diving deeper into the multimedia aspects of HAKEEM,” Gloria continues. “Hopefully, we can do some shows nationally and potentially internationally from some of the situations we have in the works.”
That’s a lot of work, but HAKEEM hustles hard. As a duo, they’re able to split these duties in ways some producers couldn’t. But, no matter the goal, everything begins with the work the two of them put in. The work has paid off, too, with regular gigs around town and positive reviews from sources like Tiny Mix Tapes and Beat Tape Co-op.
“There’s no real, one, set way we do anything," explains Gloria. "Sometimes we come up with demos separately and then we build them other up together. Sometimes we listen to samples together and choose which areas to cut and trade off writing sequences and doing programming. In the end we always refine everything together and select which songs are going to end up HAKEEM songs. It’s a very open process and a by-product of constant conversation and collaboration.”
Because they’re related, Gloria says the conversation between he and Astorga comes easily. Their shared history and interest makes the music stronger, in his opinion.
“We have always been drawn to music as far back as we can remember," he says. "As kids we used to record bootleg tapes from songs on the radio and record skits in between with a toy tape recorder and mike. We eventually both came to learn multiple instruments and played in various bands in our younger years."
Gloria was a music major for a brief time and studied jazz guitar, piano and theory. Astorga once took guitar lessons from Houston’s own Robert Ellis.
“Fumbling around with trying to record earlier bands, we naturally gravitated towards production. That kind of opened up an entirely different world than what we were operating before,” Gloria notes.
“At the end of the day, we just love combining sounds that intrigue us and coming up with a variation of music you might have not heard before and pairing that with interesting visuals," he says. "Hopefully, if someone can enjoy what we’ve done or the sounds take them away from their personal issues, that’s more than enough for us.”
HAKEEM performs as part of Summer in the City, 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 15 at Walters, 1120 Naylor. Admission is $10.