DJing comes with a lot of perks and cool moments, talk about the crazy things you’ve got to see and famous people you have met throughout your career?
Craziest thing I’ve seen DJing was some girl giving felatio on the dancefloor by the DJ stage. People I’ve Djed concerts and parties for are Drake, Mack Maine, Lil Wayne, Crime Mob, Three 6 Mafia, Mishon, YG , New Boyz, , Real n Chance From MTV, Trina, Yung LA, VIC, Chris Brown, Tanya Stephens, UB40’s Ali Campbell, Don Carlos, Keak Da Sneak, DMX , Tyga, Brian Mcknight, Trey Songz, Ray J, DMC of Run DMC, Mr Fab, Terrel Owens Party, Akon, Big Tigger and 2 Chainz.
I’m guessing a DJ goes through many transitions in a career. Talk about the cool aspects and the readjustments you had to endure during these transitions from the time you an aspiring DJ just trying to make it, to the moment you established yourself.
Yes DJs goes through many transitions from venues to genres of music, from getting screwed to being appreciated. thanking heavenly father for the little skills im blessed with, continuing to hone on my skills from remixing music and re-editing vids to showmanship and being able to spin all kinds of music incorporating music videos and effects.
When did you finally feel like you had settled in to a pretty successful career as a DJ?
I haven’t really settled on the fact that I’m yet a successful DJ. there are personal goals I’m reaching for to get to that point where i can finally say im successful.
one of the highlights I can remember was being called at 1130pm to DJ at Pipeline cafe, I didn’t know what it was for but got up got dressed, and to my surprise, it was super packed and everybody was waiting for a DJ to start spinning….next thing I know I’m spinning for the Chris Brown after party with his DJ and Chris Brown dancing on stage putting on a good show!
A low light was spinning for this promoter who claimed to have a Hurricane Chris concert at
Pipeline Cafe, and took the money and left and never paid anybody for their service.
How do you feel when you come across a new DJ who does his thing but isn’t so much a student of the art form and is a little too cocky for their own good. If you knew that individual, would you advice them to conduct themselves in a little more humble manner?
I feel that those DJs were taught wrong or didn’t have a mentor to teach them about being humble, its goes with anything else from football to basketball, to being a rapper or a DJ. New cocky DJs my advice is to be humble. cockiness only brings in negativity and everybody else hating on you.
Talk about the many creative stages that went into the eventual completion of Soul Time In Hawaii.
I started talking with Cedric Bardawil of Weekends West last year in August. We wanted to do a t-shirt inspired by Hawaiian soul, which went hand-in-hand with a mix of local music. Here in Honolulu, I listened to a lot of Hawaiian records over and over, tried to feel out which tracks would fit the Weekends West brand, and then over the course of a few weeks got the tracklist in order. Out in London, Cedric went through a number of design ideas and revisions, t-shirt test printings, and getting the word out to other UK-based DJs in his network.
What aspects of the “Soul” of Hawaii are you most interested in?
Rediscovery. I feel like our current generation isn’t fully aware of the local soul music scene from back in the day. A lot of that music hasn’t really been passed on to us—Kalapana and C&K for sure, but other music has been forgotten. What interests me is there’s always something new to discover from the 70s and 80s. And the quality of soul music from here is unique, it’s got a sound of innocence and tropical vibes you don’t find anywhere else.
You may know the answer to this or possibly have a theory as to why Hawaii Soul Music hasn’t been preserved. What’s your take? Could it be because the mainland influence exists so strongly in the genre?
There have been pockets here and there of people documenting soul music of Hawaii in the past decade—like the Cool Hawaii reissue label in Japan or the Hawaii A-Go-Go book from a record collector in Iowa—but no single definitive resource for Hawaiian soul music. I wouldn’t say that Aloha Got Soul is that definitive resource yet, there’s so much more information out there that needs to be captured, but I’m hoping it’ll be considered the definitive destination for local soul music someday.
Is there a radio station that caters to local soul music?
At the moment no local radio station caters specifically to Hawaiian soul, but as the keyboardist for Kalapana once put it, you can hear “The Hurt” in your local Foodland anytime.
What are your favorite places on the island to dig?
Jelly’s, Hungry Ear, and thrift stores are my go-to’s for digging.
You enter your favorite digging location, what are some of the first things you do/”examine” on a record before you consider buying it?
First thing that catches my eye is cover art, then I’ll look at the details like which label it’s on, who was involved in making the record—musicians, producers, composers, engineers—and finally the condition of the record. If a record is totally beat but I know it doesn’t pop up often, I’ll probably get it. But if I’m going to find another copy at some point, I might leave it behind.
As far as the hobby of collecting is concerned. What did you collect as a kid?
Growing up I used to collect Magic cards, Pogs, coins and later on in my childhood sports cards. The day I decided to give up collecting Magic cards I literally gave it all up for free to my friends.
How do you store/protect your record collection?
In plastic sleeves whenever possible—which reminds me, I need to order more soon. It’s a bit of a pain when I take the records out to a gig, but I want to preserve the album as best I can.
You pick up a record that is crap. Do you simply add it to the collection or do you find value in all the records you purchase?
I don’t have a desire to own every record I see, I don’t want to become a hoarder. I won’t keep a record if it’s junk, musically or condition-wise, I only keep what’s valuable to me. At the moment, my collection consists of mostly Hawaiian music plus some jazz, funk and soul. Every record I purchase I buy because I enjoy it. There are some local records I don’t enjoy listening to so much, but it’s historical value is enough for me to keep it around. Other than that, I try to keep my record collection pared down to what I really want.
The place where you store your records catches on fire, what are some records or genres of records you would probably grab first?
There’s probably a dozen or so local records I would definitely grab if I had to save just a few in a desperate situation. But it depends on the situation, because my life’s more valuable than those records!
What is some basic etiquette most diggers follow.
I feel like the idea if what a ‘digger’ is has evolved over time. Initially a digger would have to find everything on their own and keep that knowledge to themselves, especially if they were breaking records as a DJ or samples as a producer. But nowadays I feel like diggers have a greater resposibility to share their knowledge with others instead of keeping it to themselves. Why? Probably because the music we dig up deserves to live on with as many people as possible, and besides it’s bound to pop up on the internet at some point (haha!). Look at The Diggers Union, their radio show is called “Enjoy and Be Educated” because the music they dig up is meant to be enjoyed by others, and they want to pass on a tradition of sound and art that might otherwise be lost if we don’t share our knowledge with one another. But going back to the original question: don’t hound a digger to tell you about a record—let them tell you about it when they’re ready.
Get us up to speed on projects you make be working on for Asylum Confidential.
So far I have been working on a e.p. with the label which this e.p. will be featuring remixes by my Philly friends. Also on a original track with Dozeguise (Zane & Higher Concept) which will be release later on this year. Also I’ve been working on a original with Loic Tambay, Higher Concept, Jimmy Lee. Hopefully later on in the year it will be getting release. As for releases, I have 2 coming out this month with Waska Records. “Being Disciplined” will be out on Beatport on Jan.27th and “Guilty as Charged” will be out also on Beatport on Waska Records.
Talk about some of your experiences playing outside of Hawaii that have helped shape you as a DJ and producer.
Last year I got play a lot outside of Hawaii. I got play at one of the after parties for the Movement Festival in Detroit, to playing at Avalon Hollywood to Primary Chicago just name a few spots. Playing at these spots was amazing because I got to dj plus showcase my production work as well as the crew. Being able to see that your track is working in those major clubs in the US is an awesome thing to see because you know that it’s working everywhere you go besides Hawaii.Also playing outside of Hawaii has also show me about what each city is doing with the music and sounds. But at the end of the day, despite what genre it is, these promoters or crews I play for shares the same common goal that we have here at asylum which to bring and make good quality music. That’s what matters the most.
Being around creative, like-minded people is priceless. Specifically how has being around the Asylum DJs helped you hone in on your own dreams of making music?
Being around them has helped me a lot. They will help me out whenever I would have a question or even give me constructive feedback on my production work. They will push me and also believe in me when I work on music. When they start to believe in you, it starts to give a some confidence which in producing you really need. Once from there you start to trust your work flow from there and things starts to pan out and at the end you have a track done and ready to go. Once it’s done, then it’s off to the next project and so forth and so forth. Because of this, I’m able to bang out tracks on a weekly basis and also work on collaboration projects with the crew. This group has given me the opportunity to finally live the dream that I’ve been really working hard for over a decade now.
What is a bigger thrill, seeing a crowd full of people you know go crazy during your set or playing for a crowd you aren’t as familiar with?
Usually at asylum, I will open the night. So I will get some people who are about it and people who are new and want to see something different. Then when I headline a party, I will play peak which already the place is pack. I really like to challenge myself, so playing in front of people who don’t know about, but comes up to you at the end of your set and said it was dope to hear something new is definitely awesome feeling compare to playing to a pack floor.Turning on new people to the this type of music is awesome.
Are you a favorite or an underdog?
I think that I’m neither a favorite nor a underdog. I just want to stay humble and enjoy all the moments when the time happens. Yes it took over a decade to finally get to where I need to go, but everything is based on time If the timing happen, it will happen. Having the patience and working hard from the bottom up makes these moments much more rewarding because you know how hard you have to work to get there. And of course once you get there is when you really want to make the most opportunities from it and enjoy the rewards that you work hard for.
What was the highight from your performance last night at the Blu and Exile show?
Man, just being able to share the stage with my brothers, The Horror Show, Cookbook, and seeing Blu and Exile rock shit from Below The Heavens. Also there was this girl with glasses and this scarf thing and every time I was dancing or something on stage, she started doing her own moves and stuff. That was fun. I’ll give homegirl a high five if I ever see her. Haha. It’s cool having people who will personally interact with you at shows like that. I like connecting with the people, you know? That’s one of the best parts of all this shit.
What behind the scene stories would you like to share that took place OR led to the final product that is “Listen and Share.”
Well, I went in to record the song “Sometimes” and my homegirl came through because she had the green. So we go ahead and get lifted, and I was all out. So I kinda just forced her to give me the rest of hers. Haha. I gave her 10 bucks tho. Haha. Then I put her on the song. She’s the voice saying sometimes with me in the hook.
Briefly about your roots in Hawaii and your first memories as a performer and supporter of Hawaii hip hop?
My father retired from the military here and I graduated from Kapolei High School. I first started performing when I was 15, but didn’t really start dipping my toe into our actual hip hop scene til I was 18. First time I went to a show was at a spot called Bliss Cafe. It’s something else now. Used to be called Grumpy’s. I went to go see LA Symphony. It’s funny how this all comes full circle, Cookbook of LA Symphony rocked the same show as me. We both rocked at the Blu and Exile show. It was crazy packed and too fun. Anyway, that was my first 18+ show and Creed Chameleon, Kavet the Catalyst and Amphibious Tungs opened. I was stoked on the whole show. I thought it was hilarious that Creed yelled out “Fuck Myspace!” when the show was actually sponsored by MySpace and there was a huge banner or theirs behind him. Haha.
First time I actually stepped on a stage was a little later that year, I believe. Sharlock Poems also of LA Symphony and Propaganda of TunnelRats came down and did a show. The Perfect Median and Bless opened. They killed it. Then at the end Prop invited up emcees to cypher. So I went up and that was the first time people in the scene really heard me rap. Bless knew though. Bless been the homie since ever since. Haha. I met Grip H that night. And that was the first connection I made to someone in the scene. Eventually that led to me performing more and making more music and then I linked with my homie Joncozy. We kicked it in high school. He was already making a name for himself as a DJ, and he was starting to rap. We linked up and did a couple mixtape tracks over some Blue Scholars beats and then we did another one with his homie that he introduced me to named Christian Viernes (RockZa) they made a couple songs together too and we made one with all 3 of us. From there Ill Hill was born. We met Bone, he gave us our first show together ever at Tropics and it was a wrap after that. Really grateful for that chance.
How often do you write rhymes, where do you keep them?
I write pretty often. Maybe not whole songs or even whole verses. Just bits and pieces I’ll want to remember. I’ll keep that in my head, then when I have beats that I’m gonna actually put songs to, I’ll finish the verses. I’ll write’em in my phone usually now. Just because it’s convenient. I never have pens anymore. (lol) I write in my rhyme books still too. Sometimes you just gotta write it out though.
You end of shirtless on stage a lot, is that intended from the jump or does it just kinda happen?
(lol) Definitely wasn’t intended from the jump. One night Ill Hill was rocking a show at Nextdoor and it was hot as hell. Like super hot. So I made up my mind to rap without a shirt on. I decided that I was just gonna go hella crazy on stage and do it shirtless. Haha. I started doing it more because it was better than always sweating up my shirts. Haha. Then it became like a joke amongst me an the homies kinda and then even something I was known for. Haha. So now it’s almost expected at shows. Haha. When I don’t do it, people ask why I didn’t. (lol)
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Out of 100 percent. What percent do you dedicate to the crowd, to yourself and own personal tastes in music and to the club owner/venue?
I would say 70% for the crowd and 30% for me. most of the time i like to play to the crowd but sometimes I like to do me and mix it up a little. So I wouldn’t be the same as the DJ that plays the same hits. That’s how people know you cause the certain way you DJ and pick and mix songs.
Talk about the busiest time of your DJ career and how it compares to your schedule now.
I would have to say this year has been the busiest cause I’ve sometimes been working 14 days straight because I work for everyone, but now its slowing down cause there are a lot of upcoming DJs undercutting for $50 or less.
Networking is everything these days. How has networking in Hawaii and outside of Hawaii helped you. What has your recent networking efforts taught you?
Everyone outside of Hawaii that had made it has told me networking is the most important thing to be successful. You never know how the other person can help you. Hawaii is small compare to the mainland and the mainland is kinda the next level to be at.
What are some things you might do that other DJs may not?
Well I try to be different by being unpredictable so people don’t get bored with the music and the energy is like a roller coaster ride. Hopefully everyone that is there has a good time.