Inside 2016's competition with Ayman Awad

23 March 2017

The third contestant to make it through to the final stage of the 2016 Burn Residency program was Ayman Awad. A frontrunner from the very outset of the competition, Ayman was a consistent performer during bootcamp, rarely placing outside the top three in any of the mix, press or production challenges. It was an impressive record that persuaded head mentor Philipp Straub, along with fellow judges Carl Cox, Dubfire and UNER to promote Ayman to the Ibiza residency phase of the competition. 

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As well as being extraordinarily consistent behind the decks, Ayman was equally persistent in his desire to succeed. “I originally applied for the Burn Residency program back in 2012,” Ayman smiles. “2016 is my fifth year. Every year I thought, this is it – it’s going to be my year. Two years ago, I made it to the final three within my country - Austria, but in the end I didn’t get the chance to come to Ibiza. Thankfully I didn’t give up, as I knew eventually I’d get the opportunity to compete in this competition.

After finally making it to Ibiza, Ayman has relished the chance to showcase his skills at some of the island’s most iconic dance music venues. “I played at Privilege for Solid Grooves, once at Savannah and twice at Café Mambo,” Ayman explains. “I really enjoyed the Mambo gig. Firstly I played after Redlight, and then I played after Danny Wade. At Savannah I played after Claptone. When you’re playing a sunset venue, it’s all about adjusting to the vibe. For example, Danny Wade plays more commercial sounds, so on that occasion I played a lot of classic house tunes.”

When he isn’t dropping intelligent beats at Café Mambo and Privilege, you’ll find Ayman networking at some of the biggest parties on the island. “Last year, I was at Afterlife at Space,” Ayman continues. “I met Danny Tenaglia. He told me he’s been DJing since 1974. I was only born in 1977! Solomun was there as well and I met the guy who manages Maceo Plex. I’m trying to connect with as many influential people as possible. Getting backstage at places like Space is really hard, but luckily I have a connection with one of the directors at BE-AT.TV. He knows a lot of people on the island and he was good enough to introduce me to some of them, which is fantastic.”

More so, perhaps, than any other contestant in last year’s competition, Ayman has had to make sacrifices in order to pursue his dance music dream in Ibiza. “I moved from Egypt to Austria in 2000,” Ayman explains. “In the last two or three years, more and more refugees have been coming into Austria. Initially, nobody was able to speak the language, so I contacted the government and the charity Red Cross, about the possibility of becoming an interpreter.”

To begin with, Ayman worked for the Austrian government as an unpaid volunteer. “Later on, when they needed me on site for longer periods of time, I decided to start my own company,” Ayman continues. “Before I came to Ibiza, I was responsible for three refugee camps. I left three people in Austria looking after the business, but unfortunately it was a bit too much for them without me, and consequently I’ve had to cancel three of the five contracts. But, that was the chance I’ve always wanted. I’ve been following the BURN Residency competition closely every year. I feel this year’s competition is bigger, tougher and more professional than ever. Yes, I’ve had to make some sacrifices to get there, but I’m really proud to have been part of it.”

After a busy summer and autumn performing at events across Europe, Ayman was approached by Ministry of Sound and landed himself a bookings deal with the biggest dance record label in the world.