We can always count on Craze to hold his color and stay true to his turntablist roots. He comes from an era where DJ culture was focused less on over-the-top stage antics and more on the actual act of mixing music. In his eyes, he needed to stir the dance-music pot in hopes of restoring some integrity to the endangered art form. In light of his insanely fresh “New Slaves” routine, we asked him to speak his mind on today’s DJ culture. He had no problem telling it like it is. To watch Craze keep it really real on the decks, come to BOO!/Pier of Fear tonight in NYC.
You once said we live in a producer’s world. What is the state and the need/value of the DJ today?
The current state of DJing is more cheerleading than actual work. This might sound disrespectful to a lot of people, but it is what it is. Kids want to feel the “love” and experience the “energy” at clubs and festivals. That energy comes from big, popular tunes that people know and can sing along to. So as DJs, we tend to go for those big tunes ‘cause we all want to kill it. Playing tunes is not enough, though, so DJs resort to hopping on the decks, hyping the crowd up on the mic and basically… cheerleading. In my opinion, DJs that play new music need to break the monotony of recycling the same big tunes in every set.
You’re a championed DJ with DMC titles to back it. Technology has rapidly changed the music landscape, for better or worse. Do you feel it has helped or hurt DJ culture?
Technology has most definitely helped DJ culture. I’ve been traveling the world DJing since the late ‘90s, and I can tell you horror stories about lugging around my vinyl, the back problems and missing record crates. Traktor has helped take my sets further now, because I’m able to pull up any tune in my collection instead of only the 20–30 records that I was carrying in the past. Also, sound quality is way better now (despite what old-school DJs may say). There’s no feedback coming from the turntables anymore, and it just sounds better.
As a DJ’s DJ, we’re curious: What are your thoughts on the DJ Mag Top 100 results this year?
Never was a fan of popularity contests. It’s lame!
Are there any actual “DJs” on there that deserve the rankings?
A-Trak, Laidback Luke, Diplo, Skrillex and Flosstradamus. Well, I haven’t even seen the list, but I think they should be on it. These guys are amazing DJs!
DJs and producers are the new rock stars kids are looking up to. We’ve had the DJ Hero video game franchise in the past, but what can the electronic music community do to help educate and promote actual DJ culture to today’s youth?
I’m gonna have to go with this answer.
And on that note, how do we resurrect organic DJ culture? Or should we just kiss it goodbye for good?
I feel, as with everything, you shouldn’t try to “bring it back.” You should try to reinvent it, take it to the next level, and keep the progression going.
Which artists on Slow Roast should we be following now, and why?
Slow Roast is gonna have an amazing rest of 2014 and an amazing 2015. Some of the artists to check would be Codes, Durkin, Suddenbeatz, Ape Drums, Beauty Brain, Havok, and JSTJR, to name a few. Oh yeah—as well as myself and Kill the Noise.
What’s next in the crazy world of Craze?
I’m gonna keep pushing the culture forward and keep putting out music I feel is next-level and original. My new EP Bow Down is coming out in December and features Trick Daddy on the first single. It’s a mixture of everything I’m feeling at the moment, from dancehall to house to hip-hop to trap. I hope my vibe shines.