A chat with Silverlining ahead of his Romanian debut on 11th March

London-based DJ/producer Silverlining, is someone who’s long been revered in discerning circles. Last year, he made a real splash with his first-ever double-vinyl artist album titled 'Simulacra' - but fans of underground house and techno will no doubt have been aware of his talents long before this juncture. 

Renowned for his diverse and bassline-driven grooves, the album showcased a fusion of stripped-back house and techno, and it’s telling that this sound has stayed in vogue since Silverlining himself embarked on his journey into the depths of electronic music over 25 years ago. Ahead of his gig at Bucharest’s acclaimed Spatiu Tehnic club on 11th March (where he plays alongside Andrei Ciubuc, Matt Hauser and jammBoy). We caught up with Silverlining (real name, Asad Rizvi) for a far-reaching and insightful interview that touches on everything from his debut album to the importance of confidence, social media, modern stars and much more besides. Read on to hear more from one of discerning music’s most genuinely interesting minds…


Let’s kick things off by chatting about your early beginnings in electronic music. Outside of the amazing music, what made it so special and enticing for you?

I found myself being sucked into techno culture before I started going out, probably at around 13 or 14. I went to record shops to collect rave posters even though I didn’t have a clear idea of what raves were like. I was aware of the moral panic in the media, but I was quite nerdy and just loved all the computer generated artwork.

I think my first clubbing experiences were in around 1993 when I was maybe 15/16. Armed with a fake ID that I had made in MS Word, I managed to blag my way into clubs almost weekly, clean as a whistle. I became a regular at Colin Dale’s Deep Space, Mr C’s Vapourspace, Steve Bicknell’s Lost and Club UK. Later, I started going to Giles Peterson’s Wilcox’s That’s How It Is, where you could hear everything from jazz to jungle selected by vibe, rather than by beat, something that was really eye-opening for me.

Why was it enticing? Something interesting was happening in London around that time. The overall mood was one of openness, multiculturalism and interactivity, so you could see this happening in lots of pockets of nightlife. There was this innate drive to mix things up, and so for me, the house and techno thing that exploded was just one part of a wider climate of fusion. Gilles Peterson’s nights were particularly inspiring for me and was the worldview behind the Reverberations label that I started with Tom Gillieron, Ravi McArthur and Charlie Inman. The label incorporated more live instruments and breakbeats rather than being strictly 4-to-the-floor. I suppose this is always happening to some extent, but it felt particularly pervasive and enthralling at the time.

You’ve been involved in electronic music for over two decades, but it seems as though you’re really gaining a cult following right now in underground circles. Why do you think this is?

Yes, it has been a while now and I’m still no wiser! Tastes ebb and flow and it’s been lovely seeing in recent years that our music has resonated across generations. It will be hard to beat the vinyl sales of the late 90s, but I am still happy with the numbers these days. I feel that the music has found its feet culturally over the last 6 or 7 years. In our corner of the music scene, people look for authenticity, and I think the happy-go-lucky approach of making music, back in the day, has helped satisfy this. As soon as I went back to making music with this approach, I felt I was getting a similar response with the new stuff. The less you plan things musically, the better, I find.

You regularly play at the likes of fabric, The Cause, The Lion & Lamb etc. Are you working harder now than ever before? When it comes to electronic music, does a work ethic come easy? Or is it something that still requires a lot of grind on your behalf?

I don’t think the hustle has ever stopped. I can’t really say if I’m working less or more these days; I just know that I haven’t stopped for 25 years! You have to be disciplined and keep on top of things: whether you’re pushing yourself creatively and in terms of the — sometimes boring — peripheral tasks required of an artist. This is not always easy, and you have to learn to say no lest things pile up. The main thing is to ensure you’re always enjoying and believing in the music, so that the admin has some deeper purpose to drive you through it. If you believe in the music, it does come through.


A lot of DJs talk about sacrifices they’ve made to reach where they are - be it family or work related. Is this something you’ve encountered yourself? 

Family life is important to me. I’m lucky to have a family who understands what I do and have my back. It’s about finding the right balance in your schedule, which means you need to proactive with decisions on your time

Workwise, I finished a Master’s degree in human rights law a few years back. I never stopped music, but I wanted something to push my mind in a new direction and have a deeper understanding as to how the world works. It was one of the best things I ever did on a personal level and I started publishing some academic material, working on legal research, but when the pandemic hit, something had to go. I was not about to give up music, so I left academia for the time being. I do miss that world but maybe there will be a time for it again.

I recently also started running some creative workspaces in South London, after the unexpected passing of friend and artist, Christopher Oldfield. It’s where I built my recording studio and a small space for events, arts and teaching. The initial period has been a challenge for many reasons, especially on my creative time, but it’s an honour to pick up the baton from my late friend and see though his vision as a space for the local community. I’m learning how to find the right balance between creativity, admin, helping others and home. There’s a Japanese word, Ikigai, that I swear by now. It has four elements: what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can get paid for. This is the equilibrium that I’m striving for in everything I do.

I believe you studied the effects of social media as part of your Masters degree. Obviously, this is a hot topic in electronic music right now, even in discerning circles. Can you tell us a bit about how you strike a balance with your posts and overall involvement? Any advice for artists who are struggling under the weight of expectation when it comes to their socials? 

Much like work, social media requires another form of equilibrium. Artistic presence is important, but then so is one’s mental health and privacy. It’s taken me years to figure out how to keep a healthy balance between these three factors.

The word sustainability is usually linked to the environment, but we also need to think about digital and social sustainability. What will be the impacts of long-term unrestrained use of social media? In terms of artistic presence, yes, it’s possible to remove yourself entirely from socials and live a life of analogue hermitage. To some extent, this appeals to me, but it is a risk, as you can shoot yourself in the foot. I think the smart way is to use socials in ways that benefit oneself more than the social network benefits from you.

One of the things I researched when studying law and data is the power that monopolies have when they intersect different data sets. I wrote a paper about this in Cambridge Law Review for anyone interested. The upshot is that the more data we feed these companies across different forms of input, the more powerful advertising AI becomes to the point where it will overcome our own willpower. People think it’s impossible, but it’s not.

So, I made the decision to only use one Meta product. I deleted WhatsApp, given that you still keep everyone’s numbers, and there are near-identical alternatives like Signal, which is run by an independent non-profit. You just need to convince people to use it, which isn’t always easy, as people stick to their apps religiously! I keep Facebook deactivated 99% of the time, only reactivating it if I need to get hold of a person that I can’t find through other means. There’s little point in deleting Facebook as all the data is stored in shadow profile so we just need to limit the new information on there. In terms of mental health, I used to find it quite a taxing  experience and I don’t miss it.

And so, I settled on Instagram. I quite enjoy the creativity that it allows for, if you use it in your own way. In my case, I have chosen an aesthetic that is consistent with my label; a bit like an album booklet. In the studio, I use a Mac app called Focus that blocks it during certain hours so I can stay focused on music. I limit selfies and never share images of family and kids due to facial recognition data and shadow profiles. I never pay for posts, and I recently ‘hacked’ it only to suggest content related to hamsters; no more videos of DJs at Ibiza afterparties!


The DJ world can get a bit overwhelming at times. Any advice for those struggling to balance such a hectic lifestyle? What works for you? 

Once again, balance is everything. It’s important to keep enjoying the music and to keep checking yourself for this. But if you forget to look after yourself, you’ll burn out very quickly and away goes the joy. Believe me, I’ve been there. I find it makes a big difference to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, laugh with friends and enjoy some nature.

Let’s chat about your upcoming trip to Romania. Have you played in the country before? What do you expect? What have you heard about it?

I have visited once before, but despite all my connections with artists in the country, I still have never played in Romania. It’s strange how one has these hotspots at different times, as I’ve played across the border in Bulgaria at least 50 times! Nonetheless, I think I have a good sense about the people in Romania but I’m looking forward to seeing all the great things I’ve heard about the scene first-hand! I’ve heard lots about the perfectionism and sophistication of the scene there, and that parties keep on going. It’s an honour to have been offered a 5-hour set for my first gig there.

What is it about the Romanian scene that makes it so special do you think? 

I think it’s remarkable how Romanian artists developed their own signature and made it into a global phenomenon. For a country that is not the USA or UK, it’s truly difficult to achieve this level of cultural kudos. Clearly, the artists involved are really focused and hardworking; while the punters are discerning.

How influential has Romanian electronic music been on your tastes over the past few years? 

Every now and then, I go out to hear Romanian DJs play, on a night off, many of whom have become friends of mine. I’m often impressed by their creativity and groove. These sets have definitely stayed in my mind when working on tracks in the studio. I’m also grateful to a lot of these artists for helping to bring new life to my old music by playing it in new ways.

Are you still always on the hunt for new sounds, producers and DJs? On that note, what modern guys really inspire you?

Yes, I never tire of record digging, and I’m always hearing DJs in the scene who really impress me. Some of these include Anna Wall, Azaad, Helena Star, KT, Loa Szala, Oliver Moon, Revivis, Trixie and 3 Minds. All are already doing really well, but I expect them to go much further.

You’re gracious with your time and are always willing to lend a helping hand to up-and-comers. Was there someone who mentored you growing up? And do you see this as an important part of your role within the modern dance scene?  

I owe a lot to Colin Dale whose Abstrakt Dance Kiss FM radio show, in the early nineties, was followed religiously by an entire generation of Londoners, including myself. Introducing us on a weekly basis to a wealth of fresh electronic sounds, the show really helped to shape my taste in music. One night in 1994, I handed Colin a tape of early demos at Club UK. I didn’t think he would listen but a week later, he gave me a shout on the radio, and the week after, he had me on the show interviewing me! I didn’t know what had hit me and this really gave me a lot of confidence to continue making music. He has just relaunched the show on Mixcloud, which I highly recommend to all.

I also am indebted to Tom Gillieron’s father, Paul Gillieron whose Twang Dynasty studio gave me the opportunity to hone my production skills in a more professional environment. Tom and I practically grew up teaching each other how to make music

I was the kid in the scene back then, and a lot of Djs who had been doing it since the acid house explosion of the 1980s welcomed me and helped to guide me through this strange new world. Some of these include Murf, Mr C, Terry Francis and our late dear friend Nathan Coles.

And yes, it’s absolutely important to me to help young artists, just as these people did for me.

We really loved your Simulacra album, and it was similarly well-received by critics and fans alike. Can you tell us a bit about the production process? It was a while in the making, right?

A lot of the musical ideas were written really quickly while travelling, some literally in minutes. Creating a sonic balance that I was happy with took me months! All the tracks were quite different to each other, so I bought some outboard to mix everything through and help it all gel together.

What stopped you from putting out an album before? Was it a confidence thing? A self-belief thing? Or maybe you could provide us with some added insight?

For years, I was on the treadmill of getting the next twelve or remix out. I’m a bit impatient and I don’t like to have stuff sitting around on hard drives for too long, so I’d rather get it onto wax as soon as possible. For Simulacra, I realised that I had a big stockpile of tunes written but not mixed, so I decided to work on them all simultaneously then select my favourites to fit on a double pack.

As someone well-known on the London circuit, we wanted to ask: where would you recommend our listeners eat, record shop and party if they’d 24 hours to spend in the capital?

I’m a sucker for the no-frills, authentic experience so you could try some real Pakistani food in Norbury/Tooting; Portuguese in Stockwell; Vietnamese in on Kingsland Road; or many of the Persian restaurants in West London.

London has so many great record shops right now. Phonica, Kristina, All My Friends, Love Vinyl have great new stock; Palace Vinyl and Vinyl Pimp are amazing for deep used digs; and if you want to spread your musical wings, check out the Book and Record Bar.

Lastly, to the uninitiated, can you recommend three of your favourite Silverlining tracks, and maybe talk us through them a bit? 

Ni-Cd Deluxe (1998)

I have heard my old tracks a lot, but if I had to choose something from back in the day, I would probably go for this, as it’s very different to anything else I made back then. I did it one New Year’s Day in about 6 hours, and I think it really is a snapshot of how I was feeling!

Aura (2021)

I like this one as it’s heavily influenced by a lot of the Detroit school of house that I’ve long been a fan of.

The Lumberjack’s Call (2022)

This is off the last EP on Neotropiq. This one has a short sample from Raphael Cameron looped and filtered around with lots of modular noises on top.

Keep up with Silverlining on Instagram, Soundcloud and Bandcamp 

Silverlining plays Bucharest’s Spatiu Tehnic club on 11th March alongside Andrei Ciubuc, Matt Hauser and jammBoy. For further information and tickets see here