Jannis Stürtz is a Berlin based DJ who goes under the name of Habibi Funk, the name of his label dedicated to re-releasing music from the Arab world. Before he touches down in Hong Kong to play, we got a chance to ask him about his music and the label.

Jannis Stürtz aka Habini Funk - Press Image

You have your Jarkata Records label, what lead you to start Habibi Funk? Were you DJ-ing under the name and then the record label developed from there or did it all start as a package?

Nope, I never was a DJ in my life. I have only gotten into it after starting Habibi Funk and I ended up having people reach out to me to play records. I never did this before when I was just running Jakarta.

In an interview on youtube you said you started realising there was a discrepancy between the music you were mixing and putting on soundcloud and the lack of available information on the artists. Can you see through the work you’re doing that gap getting smaller or at least more people turning their heads to it and do you think the digital age is helping that movement of information?

Well I would say it a general issue that there is a lot of music that was recorded before the digital age that is endangered to be forgotten cos [sic] it was only pressed in very limited runs and original copies are scarce and hard to find. And sure, re-releasing music is part of making sure that these type of releases get a second life cycle but obviously whatever we do it nothing more then a tiny piece of a much larger picture…

You also said the idea behind Habibi Funk is about putting out music that has been largely forgotten or just unheard of and most of the music you are working with is 20+ years old. Who are some artists or what are some pieces you’ve found that you’ve been really excited to share in a recent mix?

I didn’t really put out any mixes in the last couple of month. In general I’m really excited about the Sudanese music scene of the 1970s, I also travelled there twice in the last year and we’re working on 3 releases. The first one being by Kamal Keila which will come out soon.

You do a lot of work sometimes to get the licensing for tracks and artists - what’s been one of the most rewarding outcomes of the hard work?

If we’re talking strictly releasing music the moment when you hold the finished product in your hands is always kind of rewarding. In comparison to e.g. a Jakarta release, doing a Habibi Funk record always takes much more time just because the whole process of liner notes, finding old photos, doing interviews takes a lot of effort. In general it’s really rewarding to help make certain releases and artists heard again both where I Live but luckily usually also in the region the music is coming from.

In your own words, can you describe the meaning behind the name Habibi Funk?

It’s a label dedicated to re-releasing music from the Arab world. Specifically we’re interested in this particular sound that combines local influences with musical influences coming from outside of the region. This may very well be the prominent „western sounds“ of the time but not neccessarily. Some records I love are best described as Lebanese bossa, or Algerian coladera. Either way, this type of exchange is what we are interested in sound wise for the label.

You tour a lot, having just done a whole lot of shows across Europe, how does touring help influence the work you do and the music you’re putting out?

I’m not producing any music, I just run a label that re-releases old music. Having said that, traveling obviously is a huge help in being able to spread the type of sound we’re interested in or that we release on the label.

Obviously you don't have a 'set list' but what drives your shows per se? Does the city play a part in that?

I don’t go by set lists. I have a bag of records and will play them. They don’t come in a fixed order and whatever I play kinda depends on the mood of the night and crowd.

What are you excited about for your Hong Kong show?

Mos def. Kinda unexpected to be playing Arabic music in Hong Kong. It was def [sic] not among the places I did [sic] expect to visit as a DJ 2 years ago :)

You can catch Habibi Funk Sunday May 6 for an exclusive and unique DJ session of rare grooves from the Middle East on a powerful Funktion-One (Official) Soundsystem by jackrabbit, brought to you by ROAM.

ROAM is a monthly music night in Hong Kong, bringing International & Local Djs from Asia, who share a love for groovy music with no boundaries: House, Disco, Funk, Deep, World music...

Tickets available here and for more information, visit the Facebook event here.