Saeed Younan

Saeed Younan excels in many fields. He is a world class, globe-trotting DJ; a recording artist; a sought-after remix producer; and head of his own record label. On his new album, Spotlight, he showcases all these roles, via one thrilling mix.

Younan's previous album, Remixed (2006), was composed solely of original productions and remixes. He takes that concept to the next level on Spotlight, emphasizing tracks culled from artists on his label, in addition to his own handiwork. "Everything comes full circle with this album," he says. "I'm spotlighting me, as a producer and a DJ, and the label for what it is. I'm bringing the two businesses together."

So not only does Spotlight double as a calling card for the myriad new signings Younan has championed, it also celebrates his ability to program music in a compelling manner. "It gives you a taste of the format you would hear from me if I was doing a four-hour set, from beginning to end, in a club." That he achieves this using only fifteen tracks, all pulled from his own catalog, is a testament to his skill sets in every category.

Although renown for his facility with tribal and percussive grooves, there is no signature Saeed Younan sound. Instead, on Spotlight he progresses through a variety, building momentum by allowing the music to ebb and swell, enhancing tracks and fashioning graceful segues with deft effects and EQing. The disc kicks off with his remix of "Ping Pong" by Ronny Van D., full of percolating beats and frisky low-end, then graduates to the warm, sexy vibe of Marcel Castelli's "Tribalismo Samba Dub," a cut with a distinctly Latin twist, reminiscent of the glory days of Twilo. From the extraterrestrial adventures of "Earth Planet" by Kermit, through the mischievous subversion of Alex Celler's "Nightshift," the set integrates fluid changes in tempo and texture, finally climaxing with the DJ Wady's joyful and radiant "Introducing the Sound."

Among the highlights are several fresh originals by Younan, including "Keep Me Up" and "To The Beat" (both chart-topping smashes at BeatPort earlier this year) and his latest single, "It's Time." That latter cut, a masterpiece of minimalism, makes a nod to the past without descending into nostalgia, chopping and editing together vocal samples and infusing them with funk flavor. The result? A new twist on old school house.

But Younan doesn't hog this Spotlight. "I also wanted to give recognition to all the artists who are already on my label. And it seemed like the best way to go about that was to put out selections I had already signed, from these new fresh talents out of South America, Canada, and Europe."

Cherry-picking these prizes from the deluge of new music loosed on the universe daily requires Younan to utilize not just his ears, but his imagination, too. When scrutinizing a new track – be it one of his own productions, or something he has an eye on securing for his label – he tries to envision how it would go down on the dance floor. "I picture a great gig I've had somewhere and think, How would this sound if I dropped it at prime time?, or How would it sound to build on this other track?, or How would people react to this? I look at all those specific factors." What he doesn't examine too closely is genre labels: "I don't have one specific sound that I like."

But in order to achieve the uplifting, spontaneous character of Spotlight – or any of his creations – Younan must, in fact, pay extraordinary attention to detail behind the scenes. "A lot of people I work with characterize me as a perfectionist, because I'm very picky about things," he admits. "In the studio, I can work on a single bass line or a single loop for, literally, five or six hours. So I get it just right. When I know something can be done right, I'm going to go for it and do it. In my heart, I feel like that is how it has to be: There is no plan B."

Saeed Younan is a man with many jobs. But armed with his fierce work ethic and a limitless passion for music, he welcomes each new challenge. "It's a lot of juggling," he admits, but I'm used to it. I've done it all my life." As Spotlight brings his abilities to higher levels of international demand, he is at the ready. "I'm excited about the future, about my label and my production work. I wake up every morning and ask, What is going to keep me going? What can I do that nobody else has done yet? What's next?