Tell us about yourself and your music
I grew up in the 90s liking hip hop and R&B. I was first inspired by electronic music by DJs at local events in 2007. In 2008-2009 I DJ’d private parties, & a few larger events under the name DJZ and distributed thousands of CDs. I also started making beats in FL studio and released early stuff under the name Kornmanz. The discussion threads for my music were responsible for the crash of DJForums.com original forums and I was banned for years. I always had the best arguments with users on there and that was one of my best early promotion tools ever. Successful troll is successful as they say. In 2010-2011 I had success with my beats and got a few signed that are still on Beatport under DJZ & DJ Z. At the time Beatport was the only place to go for EDM. Other artists have since released music under the name DJZ so not all of that music is my old stuff. The more notable ones that are mine are “G”, “Locals”, & a remix I did for Alex Zelenka (first official release ever).
In 2011-2013 I switched to Ableton and started to rip acapellas from billboard top 100 songs. I would layer the acapella over my beats in an attempt to put my flavor on the song. I messed up a lot of classic songs, but some of the better “remixes” started to get a lot of plays. I remember waking up one day and it was like 200,000 plays came out of nowhere. Soundcloud was just taking off at the time and I was on there as DJZ. My URL soundcloud.com/djz was the only outlet I was using to post this “illegal music”.
I started grabbing promoter attention in other states to go DJ there. I was not widely popular with the local New Mexico party organizers, so I didn’t play here that much. I was on some radio stations & was featured in a future music magazine I think in Europe but I forget what happened to that. I remember getting flipped off by other local Dj’s while they were playing their set because they got the set time and not me so I mean… I spun at way more private parties than public events in New Mexico.
In 2014 I was taught a very valuable lesson in the music industry. First and foremost ripping acapella and intellectual property is wrong. Sony, Universal, & Warner all sent me DCMAs and takedown requests, which I ignored. I forced them to have to get SoundCloud involved (in fact I think they bought SoundCloud) and SoundCloud introduced a 3 strike policy. Before the 3 strike policy, Soundcloud was bootleg remix central.
Simultaneously a California company taught me another lesson. Always buy your domain name and trademark your name. This company trademarked the name DJZ and made DJZ.com which promoted all the large artists of today. Guetta, Aoki, Deadmau5, Skrillex, etc. everyone was on DJZ.com except the guy who called himself DJZ. When I reached out to them about having my music on their platform they instead offered to buy my SoundCloud account. I refused to say the least.
A short while after I declined to sell the account was when the action was taken against my SoundCloud account. At the time my account was in the millions of total streams. It was shut down and all of my music was taken off of the other sites that we’re hosting it. I effectively saw all of my music deleted from the internet, my identity stolen, and it was entirely my fault.
I completely left music after this. Didn’t show up to any more local shows and just went ghost.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment until 2017. It was a dark time and music helped me get through it.
In 2018 I returned to SoundCloud but it wasn’t the same platform anymore. Everything about the music industry seemed to have changed when I took that break. This made me feel like I was over the hill, it was over, my time had passed, so I didn’t take anything seriously.
In 2019 I decided that this wasn’t the end of my story. I did my research on the new music industry and started to do the footwork to solidify my new brand of music. I released a lot of the music I was creating while I was sick and away from the scene.
2020 marks the year I started to release completely new music and I’m just excited to see what the future brings.
Talk to us more about your latest release
After releasing some older music in 2019 I started reaching out to different artists to see if I could work with a vocalist. Since my old recipe was putting acapellas over my beats I figured that’s where I needed to go. All those old instrumental beats weren’t going to cut it anymore.
Thus I found Kevin Hill and his girlfriend Sophia Silva. I was hooked to the song they made together titled Dreamin’ and it spoke to me. I asked for the stems, and they agreed to the collaboration. So far it’s doing pretty well I’m glad people are liking what they hear. I hope to only improve my sound from here.
More to come, this is just the start!
What inspired you to write this release?
The “dreamin” vocal inspired me because I felt like I was just dreamin’ about my return to music, but now it wasn’t just a dream anymore.
Describe the writing and recording process
I sorted through some of the stems and listened to them and started playing other sounds until I found combinations of stuff I liked. Then I started chopping the original stems in with some of my elements. For instance, the first hook with the piano is alternating between Kevin’s keystroke and my piano keys and played in a way that sounds like maybe one alternating piano. There are things I could have done to make this track better overall but I’m still happy with the final result.
Any plans to release a video?
Any plans to hit the road?
Not right now, but it would be a dream come true to play at the events I used to dream about in 2013.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I try to brand myself and my music with just a flavor you may have not heard before. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea either, I’ve received plenty of hate for going against the norms. My goal is if someone were to listen to all of my catalogs there’d be at least 1 song they liked.
Who have you been listening to lately?
Lately, I’ve been listening to mostly hip hop artists. I was always into hip hop growing up in the 90s and never got into EDM that heavy until hearing Daft Punk for the first time somewhere around 2006. The playlists on my Spotify profile have all the other artists I’m listening to.
Who are your biggest influences?
Eminem, Daft Punk, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Prince, Deadmau5, David Guetta, Skrillex, & Drake.
Tell us about your passions
There’s a lot that I have passion in but nothing like in music. Even if I can’t speak to someone when they first hear me I always hope my music will one day speak to them.
What else is happening next in your world?
I’m hoping to keep upping the ante and release higher quality music. Coming back to all of this I’ve received a lot of great feedback from people, and this new unreleased music is sounding better than ever. I hope to not plateau and get boring with my sounds, while also not going too experimental as I’ve done in the past.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Illegal NoiZe
Connect with Illegal NoiZe
Website: https://www.illegalnoize.com/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/illegalnoizeInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/illegalnoize/Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/IllegalNoiZeYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0o2tBfHHMKMEB3haUmWm3QSoundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/illegalnoize