– You’re from Washington DC. What’s it like for electronic music? Do you get out there much?
DC is a really cool place. When I first started going out, I only saw the mainstream side of things where all the music played is the stuff you hear at festivals. As I started going out more, I found this awesome niche of underground music that I had no idea existed. I’m out almost every week either playing out or supporting other awesome local talent. Electronic music is thriving here right now.
– So there’s more to it than being the home of the White House then, right?
Absolutely! From world-renowned music venues to awesome bars and restaurants all over town, its definitely a melting pot of lots of different cultures which I really love. Just gotta avoid the suits…
– What other producers should we look out for from DC then?
Oh man, where do I even start? There are some really talented artists around me here that I’m fortunate enough to know. There are local legends Dimitri Max and DJ Nav who are both in top form at the moment. Other friends include no.19 Music artist Prab K, Silence In Metropolis label bosses Funkdamentalist & Sam Kosh and my good buddy Jackson Ryland.
– How long have you been DJing and producing? What made you want to start in the first place?
I started DJing in late 2010 after visiting Lebanon that summer. I was going to all these different clubs and one night I somehow got behind the DJ booth and was watching the DJ pressing some buttons and everyone going crazy and dancing their asses off. I remember really wanting to have that feeling of making people have a great time and so I decided I had to learn what he was doing!
Producing came not too long later, after reading a lot about needing to produce to really get your name out there since being solely a DJ was increasingly becoming harder and harder. I have always been a musician, playing saxophone from 4th grade all throughout high school and playing drums in a metal band (wtf?) and then a reggae band, but never could really connect with the right group of people that were all into it. That’s why I love producing I don’t need to depend on anyone for anything. I can go be antisocial all day in my studio which is kinda the way I like it.
– Are you mainly influenced by US or European sounds? Have you made it to Europe yet to play?
I would say that the majority of my favorite artists right now are European but that’s also because most producers of this genre come from Europe since there is a bigger market for it. However, I still really look up to US legends like Mike Huckaby and Green Velvet among others that are really some of the pioneers of house and techno in the States.
As for making it to Europe, I wish! I am currently playing around the local scene but its absolutely on my list of goals for the future. Definitely a dream of mine for sure!
– Your latest EP on Definition Music is sick! How did it come to pass?
I had my first release this past summer on local record label Silence In Metropolis – a remix of Italian trio Usual Things Around. After a couple weeks of the track being out, I got a message from Dimitri asking me who I was and to contact him immediately since he was liking my style. I was totally thrilled because I knew about the label since I’d picked up a few tracks from guys I really look up to like Darius Syrossian, Hector Couto and Josh Butler. It really was and still is a truly humbling experience knowing that someone thinks my sound is at least a fraction as good as theirs.
– Did you make the EP with the label in mind? Do you usually? Or how does your music end up getting signed?
The lead track, Reignite, was made specifically for the label. After sending Dimitri some of my demos, he chose 2 (Hip House and Shameless) that he was really digging and thought would fit the label really well and asked me to make a track that was similar in style to my remix that he so much liked. Voila – Reignite!
When I first started sending tracks out they were really just whatever I had finished at the time. Nowadays, I would say I concentrate more on planning out which tracks would go well together and having an idea of which labels it could be signed to, but I don’t ever limit myself to just one possibility that I think should work.
– And why was Definition: Music the right place for the EP?
One of the most important things I have learned from my mentors over the last few years is that you can really only create a name and an image for yourself properly once. If you make a couple bad moves early on, it could come back to haunt you later on down the line. When I was approached by Dimitri to work with the label it was a total no-brainer. The label is all about the underground sound that I love and has signed so much awesome talent. Dimitri is also a great guy too and was super amped about my music. That made me feel good because you obviously want someone who believes in you to put your music out, not just someone who is in it for other reasons.
– Can you talk us through the release then? Did you go into the studio thinking ‘I want to make a house track’, ‘I want to make a chilled-out track’ etc?
I went in thinking, “holy fuck, I better make something decent!” With Reignite, I really wanted something high energy that was heavy and funky. With the other two tracks, it was just whatever mood I was in the day I started them. With Hip House, it was the vocal sample from this Chicago Hip House documentary that I wanted to build the track around. I really like what the sample says and thought it was a satirical jab at the music industry while also making fun of myself since I’m sampling a guy saying this. Shameless was a recycled idea I had started a while back but never finished. I remember really liking the vocal so I brought it into a new project and made a new track to go with it.
– What’s the thinking behind ‘Hip House’ in particular? Are you a hip-hop fan?
Its funny actually, a lot of people think I don’t like hip hop since I’ve been so absorbed in the dance music world lately. The truth is that I really have no taste for today’s hip hop. I love old school hip hop like Mobb Deep, Wu Tang Clan, Nas, etc. and cared for that before I cared for house.
The inspiration came from a hip house documentary I watched on Youtube with Tyree cooper and the other innovators of the hip house genre that became super popular in the late 1980s/early 90s. When I heard the vocal bit about record businesses being all about money and whatever is currently hot, in this case hip house, to make a quick buck and make them popular too. It kind of reminded me of the whole thing going on with EDM today with all these people who are suddenly into “house” and DJ and go to all these festivals because that is the new cool thing to do. On the brighter side though, it helps keep the underground more pure.
– What do you make of the genre these days?
I think its really thriving and that’s a good feeling. There are so many amazing producers from all over the world that are making absolutely quality music and new ones popping up all over the place. That being said, Beatport is completely over saturated with generic “deep house” and regurgitated progressive house from one of the many various sample packs out there today. It can be hard to find good music sometimes but it is definitely still out there.
– Do you like the merging of house and hip-hop then?
Yeah, definitely. I really like house because it uses elements from so many styles of music that I really like and you can use samples from hip hop, to R&B to jazz and still make it all work. I’m not a huge fan of the G-House thing going on these days though.
– Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
Lately, my biggest inspiration has been going out to different parties and seeing what has been working on the dance floor and then coming back and trying to make my own version of what I heard. In general though, I get inspiration from a lot of things. I can get inspired from a sample or from the environment that I’m working in.
– And what’s next on the agenda for Jus Nowhere?
I have a remix of UK producer Dare Me forthcoming on Disco Kicks as well as a track coming out on Four Fingers Hand which I am very much looking forward to. Aside from that, looking forward to graduating university this spring so I can put more time into my music! Definitely looking forward to it.
Interview by Ian Fleming