First of all, thank you for giving us the time brother. You’re still considered a young DJ, but most definitely a veteran. When did you start DJing?
No problem, the pleasure is all mine. Well, the first time I ever even touched DJ equipment I was about 12 or 13 years old. My older Cousin Gus had some turntables and he taught me the basic functions, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until about a year later during my freshman year of high school in 1996. I was able to work my first part time job to save up for my own first pair of cheap Gemini turntables and a cheap Radio Shack mixer.
I remember your battles with Presyce and other legends at the DMC battles and other events. Do you ever get an itch to go back to that?
Actually the last time I had entered a DJ Battle was back in 2006. I had took a little hiatus from the Battle scene to focus more on Music Production and “party rocking” but even then Turntablism has still been one of my passions so I still incorporate those techniques in my DJ sets and sometimes even in my production. But recently i got invited by Red Bull to compete in the 2013 Red Bull Thre3style DJ Battle, for those who don’t know it is a prestigious international DJ competition and competitors are selected by Red Bull in an invite only fashion. I’m not gonna lie, when I first got invited I was a bit hesitant. Erin Woody was the Red Bull Rep that contacted me and I told told her to “let me sleep on it”, a few days later she sends me a message asking when my next gig was because she has a gift for me. That night of my gig she showed up along with John Kosmo the Red Bull Event Coordinator for the Thre3style and a beautiful portable turntable in a dope custom case and built in speakers, then she tells me “by accepting this gift you are saying that you are in, because if you are not in then we have to give it to someone else who is willing to”. I couldn’t say no, so i competed and ended up placing 2nd in Chicago to my homie and eventual U.S. Champion DJ Trentino. Although I didn’t win I feel like I had a strong performance which turned some heads and I definitely gained a lot from that experience. If I were to get invited again for next years competition I would definitely do it again in a heart beat.
You’re part of the popular Ghetto Division DJ crew. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Ghetto Division originated back in 2008 at the infamous Hot Jams Records store. The original members of the crew are Charlie Glitch, DJ Rampage, Rob Threezy along with myself. Around that time a mutual friend of all of ours (Pinkmachine) had purchased the store from the original owner so that quickly became our mutual hangout spot. Even when the store was closed we were there with our laptops and headphones making tracks, since all of us were not just DJs but Producers as well we definitely influenced each other a lot. We started throwing underground parties in the south side of Chicago and they started becoming very popular, we were playing a lot of our own tracks at these parties that were just wall to wall packed. After that we figured we should just make it official and become a crew, so then Ghetto Division was born. We began to start getting noticed even internationally and a lot of us were putting out music on other record labels, so after a while of having to depend on these labels to get our music released we figured we should just start our own label.
You’re also a very well known producer. From Techno, House, Hip hop and other genres. What is your favorite type of record to produce?
Honestly I always go through phases, I don’t like to stick to a particular sound for too long or else I start getting bored of it. So my favorite type of record to produce depends on what mind state I am at, at the moment I am trying to go back to the classic Chicago Jack and Ghetto House sound but with my own twist to it, I feel like I need to represent where I am from and my early influences. One thing’s for sure I love working with Vocals, even if i don’t sit there with an Artist and record them myself and receive vocals from others for like a remix or even just sample acapellas for my own tracks. Vocals just make music sound so much more complete.
Who was your biggest DJ influence coming up?
Well the list is pretty damn long but if I had to choose only one I would say my biggest DJ influence coming up was DJ Premier. Not only was he a dope Producer but he was an outstanding DJ as well, to me he represented the perfect balance.
Serato is a great new tool for DJs that makes things alot easier. You come from the turntable, crate and records era. What do you think of all these kids calling themselves Djs just because of these programs?
You know I believe technology has been both a blessing and a curse, but to stay relevant and avoid becoming obsolete we need to keep up with technology. Serato allows me to still scratch records on turntables and do what I do but the only difference is instead of hauling heavy crates of records I get to bring my entire record collection on my laptop in mp3 form. I do think that this whole laptop thing has made it very affordable for just anyone to become a DJ, all u need is virtual DJ or Traktor and download some free music on soundcloud and you can play your first gig. Back in the turntable, crate and records era DJing was an expensive hobby that quickly separated those who were serious about the art form from those who were in it for fake reasons. You had to sacrifice a lot, I remember my friends rocking name brand clothes during high school while I was wearing crap from the clearance isles because I rather spend my money on records. I don’t completely disagree with this new technology, I think technology is a good thing and we should be progressing forward. It’s not about what you use but how use it. There are some young kids out there that are producing some insane tracks just using a laptop and a pirated version of fruity loops. I am a firm believer that in order to know where something is going you have to know where it came from. Take the time to research, understand, appreciate and practice the art form before you put yourself out there.
You’ve worked with some Latino hip hop artists. Anyone new that you would like to work with?
I am desperately trying to find someone with a good singing voice, someone with soul. But I have yet to find that person in Chicago that isn’t famous enough to be “too good” to work with me but yet is talented and hungry enough to make something happen. So if anyone knows that person please send them my way. Although I do wanna say that I would love to colab with my boys that have a band by the name of Perfect Kiss, they are a group of extremely talented guys. We are always so busy with our own projects that we haven’t had a chance to get in the studio to work, but i would like to see that happen in the near future.
What’s next for Maddjazz? What new music (production or mixes) should we watch out for?
Last month I had a single released titled “Jack The House” on 2 Hype Records. I also have another single titled “Throw Your Hands Up” which is gonna be released in January on Booty Call Records which is based in Paris, France. I am also working on an EP for Booty Call Records, it’s gonna be a tribute to 90s Hard / Booty House like the stuff we used to get down to juking girls from the back at house parties. at the moment the EP is about %50 done but lookout for that hopefully early to mid 2014. Other than that I plan on working on my first album which I hope to have completed by the end of 2014.
If everything goes as planned…Where is Maddjazz in 5 years?
I really wanna take my production to a new level and be able to travel more often to spread my sound. At the moment I am very fortunate to say that I make a living doing what I love and I’m DJing here in Chicago frequently. But I definitely wanna start my own label that I can call my own and recruit other Artists and Producers to release music of my liking and have a solid promo team. I also wanna tap into the whole Video production realm so hopefully in 5 years that will be up and running at full force.
Where can people find your music?
I have alot of music available for both streaming and free download on Souncloud.com/maddjazz but if someone would like to purchase some of my more exclusive music there are a number of online stores like itunes where my music can be found but I would have to say my favorite one is Beatport.com.
For the people in Chicago…Where can they see Maddjazz spinning live?
I currently work for a video DJ company called Uptime Entertainment. My schedule may vary pretty often but besides the video DJ gigs some of the clubs in Chicago that i DJ pretty often are Evil Olive, Grandbar, and Exit. But since i don’t have a set residency the gigs may vary. I am also planning a mini Mexico tour in February 2014 which is in the works.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I wanna send a quick shout out to my homies Juan Zarate and Papa Netza for hitting me up to do this interview. I also wanna send out my respects to the late Rene Vasquez who was a dear friend who was there when I first started, I miss you and am trying to make you proud big homie.
Thank you brother. You can find more about MaddJazz in the links below check it out!
aim = maddjazz33
skype = maddjazz33