If you’re familiar with the music scene in Sudan, Awab Elias, who is also known as AE Beats, is a name you have heard of. The 22-year-old music producer and aspiring entrepreneur works closely with Sudanese music artists such as US-based rapper Ramey Dawoud. Like many other Sudanese music artists and producers, when the Sudanese uprising continued to strengthen, Elias released a hip hop track called “Revolts” on 28 December 2018, featuring voices of Sudanese protesters.
Amongst other things, of late, he brought together many young Sudanese creatives such as musicians, artists and writers into one space under the name The 249 Movement with the concept to ‘create together’. Commonly used by the Sudanese youth, the ‘249 movement’ is a new term that refers to the recent emergence of a generation of young Sudanese creatives producing original and contemporary forms of art.
In addition to music, Elias has recently begun to dabble in fashion, having launched his new clothing brand, Apparel 9. His first clothing line consists of a collection of long-sleeve and short-sleeve T-shirts with 80% of the proceeds going to the victims of the ongoing Sudan uprising.
500 Words Magazine chats with Awab Elias about his passion for music, newfound passion for fashion and the new Apparel 9.
What inspired you to become a music producer?
My path to becoming a music producer was spontaneous and started by simply not being fully satisfied with a song I was listening to. The moment I heard it I realised something was missing and I wanted to make it better. Taking this into consideration, becoming a producer is a collaboration of different things for me, such as; my personality regarding how I prefer to be low-key and behind the scenes mixed with my love for technology and music. It took me about six months to learn how to make my own beats with no assistance and just the idea of having a craft that enables me to share my feelings in a language that sometimes doesn’t need words is amazing. Music is one of those intangible things that is all around us, like air. You don’t know how much you need it until it’s gone. It’s a universal language that can be interpreted differently all around the world and affects us individually but also brings people together.
You’ve recently launched a fashion brand, Apparel 9. What inspired you to delve into the fashion field?
The first thing you need to know about me is that I chose to be an entrepreneur because I have a vision of what I want my life to look like. In terms of career, I want to create something that simulates all your senses – sight, sound, taste and scent. Fashion is always something that peaked my interest, combine this with the fact that I have a very eclectic taste in clothing and a free spirit, it just felt right. Nonetheless, I still have a lot to learn but I’m ready.
Tell us more about Apparel 9 and what inspired it?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a vision and that vision includes a clothing line that everyone can wear. Apparel 9 was one of those epiphanies you get in the shower and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to pursue it. Apparel 9 is inspired by my favourite number, 9. I’m also in love with the concept of minimalism and fashion is another platform where I can portray that concept. Da Vinci said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Where is the lie?
You’ve recently launched a collection where the proceeds will go to the victims of the Sudan uprising. What drove you to do that?
Story time! Initially, I didn’t want to sell the shirts. My idea was to hand them out to a bunch of my friends and have a photo shoot as a marketing kind of thing. Meanwhile, the protests started and the revolution had begun. Once I realised how serious things have gotten and the way innocent people’s lives were being destroyed I felt obligated to contribute in some way. I saw people putting their lives on the line for a better future for Sudan and as a part of the future generation, I knew I had a responsibility to support my people. It was clear what I had to do. I had a product one hand and people who needed help on the other hand. I just connected the dots.
This collection is just the beginning, an introduction of what’s to come. I will say that every collection will have its own unique theme and concept behind it. So, just stay tuned!
What about music. Are you working on anything new?
Honestly, I don’t like to talk about pending work but all I can say is that yes there are amazing things coming. Not only from me but from my talented peers in and out of the country also representing the 249. The uprising really pushed us all to put our personal projects on hold and focus on supporting each other. It’s amazing how my fellow artists did not hesitate for a second to stand up for our country and use that energy to make weapons the way we know how to – through our words. Shout out to Young Justice and every independent artist and producer like Ramey Dawoud, Omar Majid and the whole gang making the country proud.
Now that you’ve delved into both worlds, what would you say is your contribution to the music and fashion industries in Sudan?
I think my contribution in the music industry would be creating fresh beats for upcoming Sudanese artist so that they feel inspired to use and create something of their own. In regard to fashion, I truly believe in giving back and using environmentally sustainable materials.
I just really want to encourage young entrepreneurs to take the necessary steps to fulfil their dreams and not allow anything or anyone to stop them. We are in an age where anything and everything is possible. We have no shortage of information and information is power. Gain knowledge. Your brand and vision will grow as you grow. Love the process. And you don’t have to step on someone to uplift yourself. We can all win TOGETHER. This is our time!
For more information on Awab Elias, his music and fashion, follow @ae_beats on Instagram. To purchase an Apparel 9 shirt, follow @apparel_9 on Instagram.