New Orleans Producer AF THE NAYSAYER Comes to Sol Vibes


New Orleans Producer AF THE NAYSAYER Comes to Sol Vibes

  • Ali McGhee

    Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...

AF THE NAYSAYER. Photo: Vashni Korin @vashni.b

New Orleans-based producer AF THE NAYSAYER (Amahl Abdul-Khaliq), known for his chill, hip-hop influenced beats and his impressive collaborations and unique remixes, returns to Asheville on Friday, November 4th for a free show at Sol Vibes. He'll play alongside Houston's TAME (The Aspiring ME), and two of Asheville's own: Dathan Brannon and Rasa. A producer on the rise, AF THE NAYSAYER is will stop in Asheville on his tour with TAME, which will take him up as far north as Toronto and south to Texas. 

AF THE NAYSAYER has been on a musical journey that has aligned with his own personal journey towards optimal health and maximum creative expression. He became vegan in the last year because of health reasons, and he also put out some of his most noteworthy songs to date, including an official remix of Phony Ppl's "End of the Night" that's shimmering, pulsing, and completely addictive. 


"To me, the remix for Phony Ppl is the biggest I've done," he says. "It's officially endorsed by their manager and by them, and they like it." He's also done remixes and collaborations with Taiwanese rap group Juzzy Orange, Shizuku Kawahara of TINÖRKS, and tAz Arnold of the Sa-Ra Creative Partners. In all of his remixes, AF adds an undeniably powerful and unique spin that makes the songs even more compelling than it was originally. The sounds added in are upbeat and bouncy, reimagining original tracks in ways that preserve the source material but spin it out in a new direction.

AF's production is influenced by a broad range of materials, from video game music to jazz, swing, and West Coast funk. His first album, The Autodidact Instrumentals, Vol. I, is wonderfully fun, creative, and intelligent, as effervescent and airy as it is memorable. Since releasing it, AF has moved into a period of introspection that also involved experimenting with his own sound and making new connections in the music and art worlds. His sophomore EP, Armed Wing Battle Unit, which was released on Vibe Music Collective in September, is an homage--and a soundtrack--to Japanese shmup (shoot 'em up) video games: 

I wanted it to sound like a generic Japanese shmup, and I wanted a super generic translated name, and when you hear the title you're like, 'Yeah that's a video game.' Video games are a big part of my past. I used to compete in the fighter game community, so it influenced my music. A lot of video game composers were big influences. And there was a game in my head, which is where these tracks came from. I got concept artwork made for it as well as a concept design. The inspiration was hip hop, future beats and hip hop. It's anime style, shoot 'em up, bullet-hell shoot 'em up, the genre is called shmup. It's really nerdy [laughs]! I took songs that I feel like fit together and sound good for the EP. There's a video game behind it that hasn't been made. I've been holding onto the soundtrack for a long time and it took me a while to find an engineer and have it mastered, but the time is right.
The album could truly be the soundtrack to a video game. It perfectly balances clean beats with carefully selected samples and the nostalgic sounds of an imagined Far East rendered through delightfully tinny technologies. Though the game is only a concept right now, AF is interested in creating it--when he's got the time. "Right now I'm focused on my music," he says. "I'm working on lining up festivals for 2017. I'm putting out more content and trying to connect with a booking agency overseas." 
He's also focusing on getting even more creative with his sound. "My goal for last year was not to work on an EP/album, but to do these official remixes for artists. It creates more content for me at my shows. And it helps because it makes me change my BPM range and makes my music different, I can play a set and people think that I'm just DJing, but it's all my music, which is a great compliment."
He sees this past year as a necessary step in his evolution as an artist and a person. "2016 was the year for me to focus on myself, and not on music as much," he says. "I was getting burnt out and trying to push for this music career, putting music before myself, friends, and family. So this year my main focus has been on myself and health, my spiritual and personal growth, and I've accomplished a lot of that since last December."
One big shift was in his diet. "I had been vegan before but I was doing it for the wrong reasons," he says. "Now I have a higher reason for doing it that's about preventative, holistic healthcare, and it's a legitimate lifestyle change. 
"I want to take care of my body as a temple," he continues. "I had sinus problems, I was congested all the time, and I had problems breathing and sleeping. I didn't realize the food I was putting in my body, even as a vegetarian, was harmful for me, so once I learned more I found out that the foods I was eating were causing my ailments. I got them out of my system and my body changed drastically."
"Because of music, I live a certain lifestyle. Situations happen and I'm noticing that my career is starting to climb. And people are treating me differently, maybe because of that but also because I'm more confident, my spiritual growth and physical health mean I'm more confident in what I'm doing, in my looks, in my work ethic. And I'm more positive. I think that personal growth is affecting everything. Before I'd joke about PMA (positive mental attitude), but now I'm a firm believer in that, in speaking things into existence."
AF THE NAYSAYER is currently working on two other EPs, one collaboration and one solo. He's the founder of Dolo Jazz Suite and the ambassador for the Red Bull Music Academy in New Orleans. Supporting artists in his community is a huge priority for him. "I'm always trying to find the new, young talent, to find people who need a push but who are trying to do music for a living," he says.
He's also been taking his food philosophy out into the world. "I did a thing at the Bayou Veg Fest in Houma, LA," he says. "I spoke to a room of people about my story and health, why I became vegan. My reasons are different than most people. I have a story that most people I know can relate to. They won't write it off like I'm some hippy. I feel like I was always very PC before. I never talked about ideas or beliefs, but now I'm into talking about that more."
AF THE NAYSAYER will play Sol Vibes (38 N. French Broad Ave) on Friday, November 4th. The free show starts at 9 pm. What can we expect? "I'll do the EP and highlight the remixes," says AF. "It will move from chill to more hyped--it will start off smooth and relaxed, then get a little experimental and weird, like a rollercoaster or a fun house. There will be lots of contrasts." 
Check out Armed Wing Battle Unit, below. Click here for AF's list of his favorite video game soundtracks. Check out AF THE NAYSAYER on Spotify here.