Music is magical. Any mood your in, in any situation in your life, you can always use it to escape. Without music, life would be dull.
Home Town: Modesto, CA
Currently Living: Modesto, CA
Origin Of Name: Since I was a kid I always got compliments on my real name, Zaya. So rather then try to think of a crazy insane name for the masses, I just took out a letter “A.”
Weapon of Choice: My music, my own personal productions and remixes that are not released yet. I like the fact that I can play tunes that no one has heard before and watch them dance to my own stuff.
Source of Power: A couple local DJs from home got me into wanting to be a DJ. But what really made me snap was when I first heard the Bangin’ The Box Vol. 1 mixtape from Bad Boy Bill. That intro drove me crazy and made me want to make people dance. Production, I would have to say Daft Punk. Those two French dudes are crazy! A couple guys nowadays influence me, Wolfgang Gartner is my favorite producer at the moment and I feel his work definitely sounds different and stands out…to me of course.
Was there one particular moment in the recording or mixing process for your Discovery Project entry that made you feel like you were creating something pretty damn special?
Yes. I made the mix live using a Jazzmutant Lemur (which is a multi-touch MIDI controller) and Ableton Live. The over sound I wanted was to use tracks that I really liked, old or new. And what I was going for was to make the mix sound like one track, one huge mashup by mixing different elements of certain songs with others. Synths, vocals, loops…I practiced the set over and over and the final product came out great.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?
My dad was an Assyrian singer, so I was always into tagging along to the jam sessions they would have before the parties and stuff. That is really how I grew up; I was always into music because of my dad. The locals I mentioned before as my influences would DJ at those parties while the band would take a break. And they would play that hip-house, Fast Eddie tracks. That was something new to me.
What do your parents think of what you are doing?
Parents have always supportive. I did get the, “get another job” line here and there. But I really never had to work. I am following my dream and they understand that.
What’s the strangest part of your job?
I can go for days on this question, but to break it down…Politics. And also the fact that DJs like to label themselves “producers” when they haven’t produced a record in their life. That’s pretty annoying.
What would people be surprised to find out about being a DJ?
DJing can be fun most of the time as long as you don’t let the politics annoy you.
How does what you do for a living affect you on a day-to-day basis?
My eyes tend to hurt by looking at the computer monitor all day…ears are shot. I guess it affects my friends and family because I am always away and isolated in the studio.
What is your ultimate career dream?
To make a living doing what I love to do. And to one day play the main stage at EDC.
Are you impulsive with your work or do you have a sketch in mind before you start?
When working on music I just pretty much play around until I come up with something good. I usually refer to my audio clips with all the humming I have done on my iPhone. DJing, I just vibe off the event and the people who are there.
How, if at all, does listening to music figure into your creative process?
I’d say the new Daft Punk album. I knew what they were trying to do with music. And it really made me want to look into a few things.
What’s the most important piece of gear in your studio?
My computer. Without it I couldn’t program and make tracks. So that would suck if I lost it.
How important is it for you to experiment and take on the risk of failure?
If I want to do what I love for a living, I have to take a risk. Life itself is pretty risky. Sometimes risks pay off…I’m the type of guy that wants to see if they will on my own.
Do you have a list of people you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Daft Punk. I want to know how the hell they get their talk boxing, vocoders sounding so damn real. Wolfgang Gartner. His production is great and sounds are great. Would be cool to see that guy work in the studio. Deadmau5. Even though I have remixed a few of his tracks, I’d like to see how he gets his mixes so damn clean.
If we pressed Shuffle on your iPod while you went to the bathroom, what would you be embarrassed to come back to us listening to?
Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin”
What sound or noise do you love?
What should everyone just shut the fuck up about?
Pauly D being a good DJ.
What gets you excited when you think about the future of electronic music and club culture?
The amazing visuals and the next new big sound, which I am currently working on, LOL.
When you look at electronic music and the surrounding culture, what worries you about the future?
DJs not playing live sets worry me—and a lot of my fellow DJ friends. Was that not the point of a DJ from day one?
What are your weaknesses?
Speaking my mind.
Do you have a secret passion?
Yea. I enjoy fly-fishing in the wilderness.
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Deaf people can’t hear, so I can’t describe anything unfortunately.
Is success physical or internal?
Internal. I really don’t want fame. I just want to make people dance. Make people happy. If they are dancing and happy…it’s a success!
What do you remember about your first DJ gig?
It was a house party. I borrowed records from a childhood friend (because I owned like seven records at the time) and I remember being hella nervous. Placing the needle on the record was the worst—people can tell you are nervous that way by the way your hands shake.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
It was a smaller event, not the biggest I’ve played. It was a patio to an old club that shut down in my town. I remember this night well. I was DJing with my good friend Teddy C and I was dropping some minimal tracks, which is unheard of in Modesto, and people went ape shit. There’s a video floating around YouTube of it actually.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about entering the Discovery Project competition?
I would say, just submit. I never thought I would be discovered out of all the mixes they received, but they really do listen to all the mixes. Just try and do something different and play your own productions, remixes and edits.
Link to winning track: