Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: DJ Kuze
DJ Kuze travels all over the dance music universe (hence, we're guessing, the need for the "space helmet"). But he's often returning to the world of drum 'n' bass these days, which makes sense since he's opening for two of the genre's heavies, LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad, tomorrow night at the Independet. Kuze, a former student of classical and jazz, drops some knowledge on overcoming performance anxiety, his Nitewise Web site, and opening for his idols.
Club night(s): SICK! (3rd Fridays at Matador - deep techno and tech house); Still Doin' It (1st Saturdays at Anu - drum n bass); every Monday night at Swig (eclectic styles), random parties all over town.
Style(s) of music you spin: all things deep and musical
You fuse together so many different styles of music into your sets. What strain of dance music is most exciting to you right now? Drum n bass has been rather captivating as of late. After taking a bit of a break from the genre and diving into tech house and techno, I find myself drawn to my first love, and am very much looking forward to what LTJ Bukem has in his bag this Saturday night.
What's the best way of staying current on dance music culture? I do my best to pay attention to the trends. It's part of my job being editor and publisher at Nitewise (www.nitewise.com). I'm on a few messageboards which continually remind me of how dated my sound is and how I need to purchase even more new music. It's nearly impossible to keep up with those kids wearing scarves and riding overweight fixed-gear bicycles with brakes. Let alone paying attention so many dance music genres: tech, deep, minimal, tribal, and progressive house, techno, drum n bass... But the key for me has always been finding music I am wholeheartedly drawn to, without reservation, and keeping a focus on the dancefloor. I rarely buy dance music just to listen to. If I buy it, you're going to hear it in one of my sets.
You studied classical and jazz for a number of years. How do these styles of music inform your DJ sets? I always want to have a musical presence in my sets. Too many blips and blorps, or chainsaws, or absence of melody makes most people bored, unless you're on some really good drugs.
What, if any, are the correlations between a classical or jazz performance and a DJ set? I played classical piano for 15 years and would sometimes get the shakes before going on stage. I finally realized it was simply my adrenaline flowing and took the shakes as a sign I was ready to rock. I still get jittery sometimes when I'm up there in front of a crowd.It's a huge responsibility and I don't take it lightly. Having the opportunity to make 10, 200, or thousands of people dance to the music you love is one of the greatest sensations I have ever experienced.
Name of a track you can't get out of your head: I'm constantly humming melodies to myself and even have a few pieces I've worked on with my music partner David Gropper nearing completion. One of these days I'll get a regular schedule in the studio going, because there's too many tunes in my head that need to get out!
Dream DJ partner: Danny Tenaglia. I would love to open up for him someday. He is the maestro.
Favorite DJ experience: The few times I have spun at The End Up have been very special. The crowd is up for it like few other places on the planet.
Any time I get to open up for LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad, it is an honor and a privilege. They are true professionals and probably one of the few DJ / MC combos that perform a full sound check for every performance. The sound always ends up being the best you have ever heard, and DJ'ing in LTJ's setup is the easiest thing besides putting on underpants in the morning.
How you got your foot in the door getting international bookings: It helps having a consulting / finance background, I guess. Just be yourself, have confidence in what you do, and people will respond to that. Sending lots of emails and making lots of phone calls helps also.
Best piece of advice for the traveling DJ: If you're lugging vinyl around, prepare for clueless security "professionals" to spend an inordinate amount of time digging through your case. One time I had a lady swipe each record for traces of who knows what. So silly. Also, it helps to let the promoter or venue know how you like your setup to be well in advance, so there's no fishy business when you get there. You'll be surprised how you are welcomed if you just be nice and let folks know what you need.
Worst request: My brain has gone numb from all the terrible requests.
Most treasured vinyl score: An early pressing of Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage.
Musical mantra: Forge your own path and play the music you love. Everything else should fall into place if you put your mind to it and have a reasonably good head on your shoulders.
Other music-related projects you're currently hard at work on: Editing and publishing Nitewise, co-producing original tunes and a few remixes with the one like David Gropper.
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Why are there so many crap DJs?
Next time we can see you spin: Friday 10/17 @ Matador with Nick Williams and MeekRob; Saturday 10/18 with LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad at the Independent; every Monday at